A Round 1 return looms large for Tom Mitchell.
A Round 1 return looms large for Tom Mitchell.

Patton shines in first Hawks outing, Mitchell looking good

HAWTHORN superstar Tom Mitchell is on track to play in Hawthorn's season opener against Brisbane after getting through his first competitive hit-out in 400 days.

The Brownlow medallist racked up 21 disposals playing on the ball in the two-hour intra-club clash and, importantly,  showed no signs of the broken left leg he suffered in a training drill last January.

But there was a fresh injury blow for the club when untried defender Jacob Koschitzke left the ground in the third term with a left shoulder problem.

Mitchell's strong showing would have been a major relief for the ball magnet, who needs only to emerge unscathed from the club's next three games against St Kilda (twice) and Melbourne to lock in his Round 1 return.

Mitchell was cleared for contact only in the past week but was typically brave and busy in the clinches for three quarters on Friday night, helping brush off the cobwebs after sitting out all of last season.

Tom Mitchell showed no signs of his injury in the Hawks’ intra-club. Picture: AAP Image/Sean Garnsworthy
Tom Mitchell showed no signs of his injury in the Hawks’ intra-club. Picture: AAP Image/Sean Garnsworthy

The clearance machine is priced at $630,900 in SuperCoach this season with an ownership of just 14 per cent, which will soar if he performs strongly in his upcoming preseason matches.

Asked if he wanted Mitchell to play in Round 1, Isaac Smith said: "Everyone does. He's a Brownlow medalist, so he can play footy. He certainly makes us better.

"He's been moving pretty well since Christmas and he's out there doing everything."

New spearhead Jon Patton also shone in his first game since crossing to Hawthorn in exchange for a future fourth-round draft pick, slotting three goals.

Patton was hot early, nailing two first-term majors from a strong contested mark and a free kick after working well to the front position deep forward.

The former No.1 draft pick took another excellent grab on a bustling lead to slot his third major in the second term, and is certain to lead the Hawks' new-look forward line against the Lions at the MCG in Round 1.

The strong showing helps vindicate Patton's controversial decision to sit out of the Greater Western Sydney's NEAFL side late last season as the Giants' made a charge to the grand final.

Smith said Patton, who hadn't played since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament for a third time in mid-2018, had a towering presence inside 50m.

"He's fitted in well," Smith said.

"He's so big ... it's hard to get your arm around to spoil, so you've got to go over the top.

"Hopefully he can have a good season. I'm sure if he does, we will."

Jon Patton kicked three goals in Hawthorn’s practice match. Picture: Getty Images
Jon Patton kicked three goals in Hawthorn’s practice match. Picture: Getty Images

Patton lined up alongside youngster Mitch Lewis, who was quiet until kicking his first goal of the game from a mark deep in attack in the third term.

Patton and Mitchell are key planks in the Hawks' plans to return to the eight next year after missing finals last season, while former Demon Sam Frost was also part of the stronger side at full back last night.

Premiership ruckman Ben McEvoy also played key defence where he looks set to continue his career in 2020, following a late-season experiment from mastermind Alastair Clarkson.

Veteran wingman Isaac Smith, ruckman Jon Ceglar, running machine Tom Scully, hard nut James Worpel and star defender James Sicily were all prominent in wet conditions.

But Jaeger O'Meara (managed), Jack Gunston (ankle), Jack Scrimshaw (managed), Jarman Impey (knee) and Daniel Howe (foot) all sat out as part of a relatively short injury list.

Sicily set up Patton's first goal with a brilliant 50m pass running through half forward and again looks primed after narrowly missing All-Australian selection over the past two years.

Luke Breust also showed extraordinarily clean hands picking up a slippery ball at pace deep forward to set up a Tim O'Brien goal.

Livewire Chad Wingard also flashed in floating through forward half as he looks to continue his strong-late season form into 2020.

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