Blues teach some hard lessons in AFL win

Provided James Sicily learns his hard AFL lessons, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson will forgive the fiery defender’s tough night out.

Sicily gave away seven free kicks as Carlton forward Jed Lamb got the better of him in Saturday night’s seven-point win over the Hawks at Etihad Stadium.

The 12.5 (77) to 10.10 (70) victory was the Blues’ first win over Hawthorn since 2005 and also broke an eight-game losing streak.

Carlton now cannot finish bottom and Hawthorn will miss the finals for the first time since 2009.

Sicily also was told one of the oldest lessons in the book – it’s always the retaliator who is caught.

Lamb played his role as a defensive forward to perfection, kicking two goals and niggling Sicily into silly mistakes.

“He’s getting smacked a fair bit and he’s the retaliator – the umpires pay (the free against) the retaliator rather than apply the discipline to the Carlton player in the first instance, who’s doing the hitting,” Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said.

“But that’s footy, you live and you learn and we’ve been in that situation where we’ve done that too.

“I’d much rather it happen now, early in his career, when it’s a dead-rubber game. Who cares, really?

“It’s good exposure for our players to go through that.”

Carlton coach Brendon Bolton praised Lamb’s game and said the Blues showed with the win that they are making progress.

It was a symbolic night for the Blues – before the match, they honoured members of their 1987 premiership team.

There has been talk about whether Carlton have improved this season, but Bolton noted that two year ago Hawthorn demolished them by 138 points.

He said the win was an important reward after several near-misses this year.

“(It’s) just a little bit of emotional nourishment that they deserve for their efforts over the course of the year … some feel-good and reward for effort,” Bolton said.

Hawthorn midfielder Jaeger O’Meara played only his fifth game this season after recovering from knee problems.

While he looked rusty, his coach was rapt to have him back.

“He got going a bit in the last part of the game, so it’s just good for our supporters and his teammates to have him running around,” Clarkson said.

“He’s had a tough year and he’s worked really hard in pretty trying circumstances with all the innuendo about whether he was going to play or not.”

Hawthorn great Luke Hodge will play his last game next Friday night against the Western Bulldogs, while the Blues end their season on Saturday against in-form Sydney at the SCG.

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