ACTING Hawthorn coach Brendon Bolton has been spared a humiliating AFL coaching debut by the width of the goalpost.
Two of Greater Western Sydney's last-quarter shots on Sunday hit the post to deny the Giants a famous victory as the Hawks prevailed 14.10 (94) to 13.9 (87) at the MCG.
At full-time it was hard to tell from the body language which team had won and which had lost.
The wooden spooners, unrecognisable from the side thrashed by Richmond just a week earlier, gave the premiers an almighty fright, out-running and out-tackling the Hawks.
When Jack Gunston kicked Hawthorn's first goal, roving a stoppage just one minute into the game, it seemed as though the struggling Giants would be given another footy lesson.
But an instant reply by Jonathan Patton laid the groundwork for an almighty battle.
If anything, it was the Hawks who were taken to school by a hungrier side.
Led by Lachie Whitfield and Devon Smith, the Giants kicked four of the next five goals to eke out a deserved 13-point lead.
The Hawks looked down and out, fumbling possession and indecisive in defence.
Bolton would have his first chance at an AFL coaching spray at quarter-time.
Hawthorn were missing Sam Mitchell, Cyril Rioli, Brian Lake, Josh Gibson and late withdrawals Jordan Lewis and Ben Stratton.
Dylan Shiel kickstarted the Giants with an early goal.
The two sides went goal for goal in the third term before goals from Rhys Palmer and Smith put the Giants 11 points clear.
The Hawks' Jack Gunston and Isaac Smith responded to take a one-point lead into the last change.
Still the Hawks could not find relief in a see-sawing final term. With the help of the goalposts, the Hawks scrambled over the line in a frantic final term. - AAP