Sicily sizzles in defence as Hawks stun Saints

·2-min read

Maybe Sam Mitchell should "drag" James Sicily more often.

The Hawthorn captain produced one of the individual performances of the AFL season on Saturday, racking up 42 disposals in defence and leading his team to a stunning 10-point upset of St Kilda.

Sicily also had 21 intercept possessions and eight intercept marks - but Mitchell smiled post-match and said his skipper's game was only 95 per cent complete.

At one stage, he took Sicily off for some poor discipline, with Mitchell saying the backman "lost his way a little bit".

Otherwise, the coach lavished praise on his captain.

"It's the best individual game I've coached a player in," he said.

"It was as good a game as I've seen from an individual player.

"Every time it looked like we were breached and they were going to score, if Sicily was in the area, we were OK."

The win was important for Hawthorn, on and off the field.

On-field, they are in the midst of a significant rebuild.

They have looked good in patches this season, but too often have shot themselves in the foot.

Their 4.10 to halftime, when they were dominating play, looked like being another chapter in that story.

But Hawthorn stuck at it and eventually stormed past the Saints for their third win.

Off-field, the Hawks are mired in the fallout from the racism saga.

It is three days since chief executive Justin Reeves resigned, in no small part worn out by the toll of the controversy.

"Being able to make the 80,000 (Hawks members) proud of what they see - we don't have any control over the outside noise," Mitchell said.

"What we have control over is the intent that our fans see, and even if we hadn't won that game, every Hawthorn person ... said, 'That's a team that play for each other and work hard and they love their colours'.

"I was really proud of our strength of character, to be able to play the right way, regardless of external noise."