Clarkson lauds Hawks’ pressure in AFL

Coach Alastair Clarkson has backed Hawthorn to make the AFL grand final the hard way, provided they maintain the pressure that destroyed Adelaide.


The Hawks were back to their ruthless best in Friday night’s semi-final at the MCG, belting the Crows by 74 points.

That set up next Friday night’s preliminary final against Fremantle in Perth, with the winner going through to the grand final.

Hawthorn’s poor qualifying final loss to West Coast means two trips to Domain Stadium this month in their quest for a third-straight premiership.

But Clarkson is unfazed, saying a successful team must win on the road.

“We give ourselves a chance if we play with the sort of intensity and attack on the ball that we did (on Friday night) and the attack on the opposition ball carrier,” he said.

“That’s footy – in the early parts of the (AFL), all the finals were played in Melbourne and the poor old interstaters had to travel every time.

“If we’re good enough, we’ll win.

“We’re going to take up the challenge and see how we go, because if you’re good enough to win, you have to win anywhere.”

The most obvious sign of Hawthorn’s fearsome pressure was what happened to star forwards Taylor Walker and Eddie Betts.

They were two heroes in last week’s elimination final win over the Western Bulldogs, but they starved of supply on Friday night.

Betts was kept scoreless for the first time since late in the 2013 season and Walker received bronx cheers before kicking his only goal of the game in the third quarter.

While Clarkson was rapt with how Hawthorn rebounded from the West Coast loss, he remains unimpressed with how umpires are interpreting the deliberate out of bounds rule.

It was an issue again on Friday night – Josh Jenkins kicked Adelaide’s first goal after being awarded a free from a controversial out of bounds decision.

“That was a stinker, that first one, wasn’t it?,” Clarkson said.

“A couple went against the Crows later on.

“It’s just confusing and if they can fix that up, it would be good I reckon for everyone – not just the players, but also for those who appreciate the game and the pressure that’s applied.”

Defender Brian Lake is expected to play against the Dockers after hurting his midriff on Friday night, while forward Jack Gunston remains in doubt.

Gunston suffered a leg injury in the loss to West Coast and missed last night’s win.

“He’s been able to progress reasonably well (and) we’ll just have to see early in the week,” Clarkson said.

“We’re uncertain – he’s up and about and walking without any aid of crutches or moon boots or anything like that.

“Hopefully he’ll be okay to play.

“His progress to this point in time, we’ve been really pleased.”