By GREGOR MACTAGGART
MORWELL export Changkuoth Jiath played a starring role as Hawthorn stunned Sydney by 38 points on Friday night.
The Hawks produced their best performance of the 2021 season, snapping a five-match losing streak with the 14.5 (89) to 7.9 (51) victory.
Playing in defence, Jiath knocked up winning the football, gathering a career-high 28 possessions (14 kicks and 14 handballs) to feature prominently in Hawthorn’s best.
The success was an early birthday present for Jiath, who turned 22 yesterday.
He gained a team-high 553 metres with his dash from the half-back line proving a key feature in the Hawks gameplan on the tight confines of the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Jiath was joined in the list of Hawthorn’s better players by 2018 Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell, who had 34 touches (including 16 contested), seven tackles and a goal.
Ruckman Jonathon Ceglar, Ben McEvoy, playing predominantly in a forward role, midfielder Jaeger O’Meara and key defender Sam Frost were other leading lights for Hawthorn.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said the performance came after a tough few weeks.
“We had an opportunity over the mid-season bye to have a bit of a reset and do some soul-searching,” he said.
“We were able to do that, get a rest, set ourselves up for a restart and try to find something out of the second-half of the year.
“I think that reflected in why our intensity right from the get-go was really, really strong.”
Gold Coast, featuring former Moe and Fish Creek footballer Sam Flanders, finished on the receiving end of a 27-point loss to Fremantle at Optus Stadium.
The Dockers kept its finals hopes alive with the 11.10 (76) to 6.13 (49) success despite missing Nat Fyfe.
Flanders finished the game with 14 possessions and 1.2.
There was no Ben Ainsworth in the Gold Coast side, but the Morwell talent did his hopes of a senior recall no harm with a starring performance in the VFL.
Ainsworth booted three goals and was named third best as the Suns scored a thrilling 17.5 (107) to 16.8 (104) win over the Sydney Swans.