Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson wore shorts and a polo top to set the tone for his team as a frigid, snowy night in Canberra turned up the heat on Greater Western Sydney.
With a top-four position to play for, the Giants were nothing short of insipid as the Hawks outmuscled and out-thought them to run out 56-point winners 13.7 (85) to the Giants 4.5 (29).
James Worpel was the Hawks’ best, with Paul Puopolo lively up forward and kicking two goals.
It was billed as the coldest AFL game of the season and the forecast delivered, with snow falling at the end of the first quarter at Manuka Oval.
Clarkson, whose disdain for long-sleeve jumpers is legendary, asked his men to embrace the conditions and led by example as he went to the quarter-time huddle wearing shorts.
He had been seen at training with his team with his shirt off during the week when the likely weather conditions became known.
“We prepared well for the conditions and the boys executed really well. We prepared well in the conditions and the boys did really well,” Clarkson told Channel Seven after the match.
“We knew it was going to be tough and hard footy. Inspired a little by John Kennedy, I remember one day at footy training he forgot his footy boots and trained barefoot in the middle of winter.
“Sometimes you’ve got to show the way with your players.”
It was a bizarre game for debutante Changkuoth Jiath, who came to Australia as a refugee and saw snow for the first time.
“There is a cheer that came over the ground when the snow came down,” Clarkson said.
“CJ was born in a country full of sand, but he didn’t expect snow to be coming down in his first game.”
For his part, Jiath paid tribute to his family saying: “They came from Africa to here to give me an opportunity”.
The Hawks are now responsible for the Giants’ two lowest scores this season, and their two lowest in history.
They kept GWS to 38 points in Round 8 and 31 points in the club’s inaugural year in 2012.
The Giants only kicked one goal in the second half.
The Hawks still have a slim chance of making the finals, but Clarkson played down that possibility, saying he was just happy to get some games into young players on the list.
“We have still got two games to go and we’ll see where that takes us … some of those young players …. we are really pleased with the effort and we’ll just see where it goes in the next few weeks.”