The Suns were in disarray at 0-2 with former skipper Gary Ablett at the centre of a storm of criticism, but they romped to the largest winning margin in the club’s history and their first victory over the Hawks.
Defiant coach Alastair Clarkson, who was in his first season at the club in 2005, says the last-placed Hawks haven’t lost their winning identity.
“Right at the moment we’re just struggling a bit, but I’ve got confidence in our coaching group and our club,” Clarkson said after the 21.13 (139) to 7.11 (53) result.
“These moments are just events – they’re not symbolic of us losing our identity as a winning side.
“We’ve been a strong side for a long period of time and we’re just going through a tough patch at the minute.”
Hawthorn are last with a percentage of just 63.3, but Clarkson doesn’t believe his side’s 2017 campaign is doomed.
“Our season is not shot by any stretch but we need to get going a little bit in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“It’s going to be harder from here (to make the finals) but we’re up for the fight.
“We’ve got to be pretty pragmatic about it as well… you’re not going to be shining in the sun all the time.”
After being labelled uninterested during Gold Coast’s 102-point loss to Greater Western Sydney, Gary Ablett proved his critics wrong in yesterday’s huge victory.
Suns coach Rodney Eade said the two-time Brownlow medallist’s experience provided the foundation for the club’s highest ever winning margin.
“I thought his performance was good, I mean not to his normal excellent standard,” Eade said.
“I don’t think he kicked the ball exceptionally, he had a good goal.
“I thought he got his hands around the ball he worked harder in the contest which is his bread and butter and I thought he led the way, I thought his leadership was very good.”
At the other end of the premiership ladder, Adelaide are sitting on top of the pile as one of three remaining unbeaten sides.
The Crows knocked cross-town rivals Port Adelaide off the top rung with a 17-point win in a pulsating top-of-the-table clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
Adelaide were one of eight unbeaten teams entering round three but second-placed Richmond and Geelong in third were the only other sides able to maintain a perfect record.
“The guys still had some belief rolling over from last year,” star Crows midfielder Rory Sloane said.
“We’ve played a lot of footy together, this group in particular.
“We just go in expecting and wanting to win every game.
“If we keep playing the way we do, we’ll certainly make it hard for teams.”
Port Adelaide are sweating on the AFL match review panel’s assessment of Paddy Ryder’s off-the-ball clash with Adelaide’s Riley Knight.
The young Crows forward was floored with just over two minutes left to play in the fiery local derby and indicated to a trainer he had been hit in the jaw.
Ryder, playing his third game back from a year-long doping ban, starred with 48 hitouts but could face a stint on the sidelines.
“He got a bump off the ball and he reacted to it,” Power coach Ken Hinkley said.
“You’d prefer he didn’t have to react to it, but it’s a game of football. It’s competitive.
“From what I’ve seen… I don’t think there was an enormous amount in it. But we’ll let that be and see what happens.”
The Tigers inflicted West Coast’s first loss of the season after Dustin Martin starred with 40 possessions and two goals in an 11-point win at the MCG.
The ultra-accurate Cats had kicked 16 goals in a row at one stage as they handed wasteful Melbourne their first defeat – a 20.6 (126) to 13.19 (97) result at Etihad Stadium.
Star Demon Max Gawn will consult a surgeon today to determine if he needs an operation on the hamstring injury he suffered in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs lost their unbeaten status when Fremantle stunned the reigning premiers 13.11 (89) to 10.13 (73) at Domain Stadium.
Essendon were the last undefeated side to fall and did so as Carlton notched their first win of the season 7.15 (57) to 6.6 (42) in a rain-swept encounter at the MCG yesterday.
Another inside 50 deficit finally bit the Bombers hard as Carlton upset their traditional rivals by 15 points.
While coach John Worsfold was disappointed, he was hardly surprised and said the match highlighted areas of concern for his team.
Essendon had lost the inside-50 count in their opening wins over Hawthorn and Brisbane, an unsustainable trend.
It went badly against them 60-37 yesterday and while the game was close, the Blues mostly looked like the team more likely to win.
“There were no surprises in some of the things that happened today,” Worsfold said.
“They are areas that we know we have to get better at and it’s going to (take) a bit of chemistry and more games together.”
St Kilda and Collingwood also recorded their first wins of the season, defeating Brisbane and Sydney respectively.
The Swans slumped to an 0-3 start with the loss, joining the Hawks and North Melbourne who were thumped by Greater Western Sydney 15.19 (109) to 10.7 (67) in Hobart.
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