Different fortunes for NZ heritage coaches in round 1 of the AFL

NZ heritage coaches Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn Hawks) and Ben Rutten (Essendon Bombers) have had contrasting starts to the 2022 AFL season, with Mitchell recording his first ever win, while Rutten and the Bombers were crushed by Geelong.

With the Hawks fielding their youngest side since 2005, Jack Gunston and Mitch Lewis feasted on an undermanned and undersized North Melbourne defence to hand new coach Sam Mitchell the perfect start to his career.

Playing their first game in 18 years without four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson at the helm, the Hawks overturned a 21-point deficit to run out 11.12 (78) to 8.10 (58) winners in what was a highly entertaining affair at a sun-baked MCG.

Meanwhile, the Bombers couldn’t have had a worse start to the season, with a disappointing 66 point loss to the Geelong Cats.

Veteran Cats stars Patrick Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins blew the Bombers off the MCG in blistering fashion on Saturday.

Dangerfield ran riot with 22 disposals and nine inside-50s before half-time, while Hawkins caused all sorts of problems for the Bombers’ defence on his way to kicking four goals and setting up numerous others.

After being written off as too old and too slow ahead of this season, the Cats smashed Essendon in the midfield on their way to a 20.18 (138) to 11.6 (72) victory.