Alastair Clarkson knows that for all their pluck, Hawthorn must improve quickly in the AFL.
Friday night’s classic match was the third time in as many weeks that Hawthorn have won by three points.
This time, they came back from 15 points down late in the last quarter to kick the last three goals.
Capping his best-afield performance, Paul Puopolo kicked the winning goal with less than a minute left.
The Hawks then hung on in the frantic last few seconds as Adelaide went into attack from the centre bounce.
Clarkson is equal parts rapt with his team’s composure and acutely aware that their luck cannot last forever.
“We know we’re thereabouts … but we need to improve on some things in our game because we’re not going to continue to win close games like that,” he said.
“At some point in time we’re going to lose a close one.”
It was the first time this season that the Hawks have passed 100 points in a game, with the two sides kicking 17 goals.
But they are clearly missing key forward Jarryd Roughead, who is recovering from knee surgery and is due back mid-season.
At times, they kicked into attack as though he was playing and the watertight Adelaide defence repelled with ease.
And Clarkson noted that the Hawks would have to tighten up their own defensive play.
“We still think we need to get a bit better with our ball movement and manner we defend, because we’re not going to win finals if we’re conceding 17 goals,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, Clarkson ended speculation about his future by signing a three-year deal that will keep the four-time premiership coach at Hawthorn until the end of the 2019 season.