Alastair Clarkson doubted Hawthorn’s poor form and uncharacteristically sloppy skills were attributable to the emotional impact of the upsetting news of the return of Jarryd Roughead’s cancer.
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The Hawks were beaten by 14 points by Sydney in a game where Clarkson felt neither side played well.

“We lost a game of footy where we didn’t play particularly well and neither did Sydney. It was a pretty ordinary spectacle I reckon and we just played a little bit worse than what Sydney did,” he said.

“I am sure Sydney would be rapt to get the four points and move on but they have some improvement in their game as well.”

Clarkson said he was pleased with the way the club handled the news of Roughead’s cancer and felt that once the immediate shock rippled through the public, it would be better for the player, his family and teammates in dealing with it.

When asked if he thought the Roughead news had an impact on the team’s poor game, especially in the second quarter Clarkson was doubtful.

“I thought the club as a whole handled a difficult situation really well. The players’ effort and endeavour was there but we just couldn’t finish our work whether that was shooting for goal or just in general play some of our field kicking and handballing was nowhere near the standard we would like,” he said.

“Had we kicked a little bit straighter we would have given ourselves a chance to get in front.

“The sooner the hysteria goes out of this battle that he has got to confront, the better it will be for Roughy, Sarah and his whole family.

“We are trying to keep it as normal as possible for him. It’s difficult for people outside the football club because their manner of trying to provide him with support is what they can do publicly or saying things on radio or television.

“We are going to deal with it in the best manner we can as a footy club. Lot of support from his teammates, in particular, but also his family and those back at home at Leongatha.”

Sam Mitchell, who was averaging 33 touches before this game, was kept to just 14 possessions by Tom Mitchell who got the ball 21 times himself in what Sydney coach John Longmire said was his best game for the club.

Clarkson said despite Mitchell being down on possessions and the Hawks being beaten in contested football, his side had won the clearances, had more inside 50s and one more shot at goal and so should, on those statistics, have been expected to win the game.

“Sydney are averaging well over 60 inside 50s for each game thus far and they have 40 tonight. If we were presented with that stat at the start of the game we would have said ‘we are going to win this game of footy’ but we had 54 chances ourselves inside forward 50 and we just didn’t capitalise.

“Some of that has got to do with Sydney’s good play but I feel like most of it was that we just didn’t convert our chances anywhere near as well as what we could have and that was not just set shots but hitting targets inside 50.

“We made real crucial and fundamental errors that created Sydney opportunities.”

The most glaring error was when ruckman Jon Ceglar handballed to Will Langford when the player was running away from him with his back to him. The turnover went to the other end where Lance Franklin took a long shot at an empty goal square and the ball rolled through from 80 metres out.

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