HAWTHORN got its 2014 premiership defence off to a winning start but it was a less than convincing performance at times with the reigning premier eventually recording a 48-point victory over Brisbane in their round 1 clash at Aurora Stadium yesterday.
The Hawks struggled to shake off a determined Brisbane for three quarters in what was at times a scrappy and defensive game, but the floodgates opened in the final quarter as the Hawks ran out comfortable winners 21.13 (139) to 13.13 (91).
The Lions struggled to find options to goal in a low-scoring first half managing only three goals to half-time while the Hawks kicked seven.
The young Lions matched Hawthorn at clearances, stoppages and inside 50s but failed to convert opportunities.
The Hawks led by five points at quarter-time and extended it to 22 at the main break with a four goal to one second quarter.
But the Lions refused to give in and fought their way back into the contest in the third term kicking five of the next seven goals to cut the deficit to just two points mid- quarter with two goals each to Sam Mayes and Trent West and a single to Tom Rockliff.
Hawthorn was under siege but responded when the Lions looked like getting on top, booting the last four goals of the quarter with Luke Breust kicking three for the term to open up a 25-point advantage at three-quarter time.
Hawthorn then controlled a high-scoring final term kicking eight goals to five as the final margin blew out to 48 points in a game that developed into a second half shoot-out with 24 goals scored.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson admitted his side was well below its best but said that was to be expected in round one.
"It's pretty scratchy footy quite often early in the year but as long as we're winning games of footy we'll deliver close to our best hopefully towards the end of the year rather than right now," he said.
"Our polish wasn't quite there in our game overall and hopefully that will get better over the next few weeks as we build ourselves into the season.
"We can't be too displeased with a game we won by nearly 50 points against a pretty spirited opposition."
Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch said his side could take some positives for the future from its performance despite areas of deficiencies.
"We disappointed ourselves in the last quarter, there's no doubt," he said.
"They scored 13 times from 14 entries in that last quarter so that was a bit of a train wreck and we'll have to address that and stoppages they scored 18 to eight so there are a couple of specifics for us to work on and the guys know that.
"I thought going in we'd struggle to run out the game given their experience and their legs.
"We all want to win and we don't want to lose any contests and we're all competitive but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture."
The Hawks had 10 individual goalkickers to the Lions five for the match.
Bruest finished with five goals as did Jarryd Roughead, with two each to Isaac Smith, Jack Gunston and Liam Shiels.
Veteran Jonathan Brown booted four for Brisbane with three each to West and Rockliff and two to Mayes.
Grant Birchall was the best possession winner for the Hawks with 31 touches with Brad Hills picking up 26 as did Isaac Smith.
Dane Zorko had 28 as one of the Lions' best with Brent Moloney having 23 and Josh Green 21.
The victory continued Hawthorn's impressive record at its Aurora Stadium fortress to eight straight and 15 out of the last 16 since mid 2010.