Hawks go big-crowd hunting - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks go big-crowd hunting

By Roger Vaughan 02/05/2008 03:27:54 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn will concede a big-crowd advantage to Collingwood in Saturday's big AFL match at the MCG, but are determined to master the pressure involved.

Coach Alastair Clarkson said it was a focus for the unbeaten Hawks to perform consistently well in front of the 60,000-plus crowds that flock to the MCG for the finals.

Collingwood's thumping win over Essendon and Hawthorn's high-flying form will ensure that sort of attendance on Saturday in the match of the round.

Hawthorn were found wanting in front of nearly 75,000 fans in their semi-final last September against North Melbourne, where their season ended.

"We haven't been a well-performed club for some time (and) we haven't been in a situation where we play in front of this type of crowd regularly," Clarkson said.

"The MCG, a big crowd - the last time we played in that type of game was the Kangaroos final last year and we didn't perform anywhere near our best.

"So it's a wonderful challenge for this group of players, to try and see how they go in high-pressure footy with the big buzz of a big crowd.

"It would count for a fair bit and Collingwood obviously get an advantage in that area."

Hawthorn are coming off a hard-fought win over Richmond, where their goal-kicking radar was badly mis-wired.

Lance Franklin could not hit a barn door, kicking 1.7 as the Hawks scored 14.22.

"We didn't finish very well, we had some opportunities - I know Richmond forced us wide from time-to-time, because they had (Matthew) Richardson and (Graham) Polak behind the ball, dropping off the wing," Clarkson said.

"That forced us wide on a few occasions, we had shots from the boundary that perhaps we wouldn't have tried to convert from that wide in previous games.

"The rest of our game, we were pretty pleased with."

Clarkson dismissed talk that umpires would monitor his captain Sam Mitchell and vice-captain Luke Hodge for deliberately trying to knee opponents in the leg during play.

"There's no official complaint, so there's no issue from our point of view," he said.

"The issue died for us yesterday."

He also described as "a little bit mythical" a suggestion that the Hawks have developed a new form of zone defence, dubbed "the cluster".

"We and a lot of clubs have been employing zones ever since Robert Walls instigated the huddle back in the early `80s," he said.

"Our teams have been working with zones from kick-ins to try and stop the opposition from sweeping the ball down the ground on a regular basis.

"At different stages over the last 18 months we've played a lot of man-on-man football as well, sometimes that's been successful against some opposition and sometimes it hasn't.

"That's a great feature of Collingwood's play, with their kick-ins, sometimes they're man-on-man and sometimes they're in a zone, you're not really certain what you're going to be doing."

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