Lewis to beef up Hawks for 'Dogs duel - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lewis to beef up Hawks for 'Dogs duel

By Roger Vaughan 30/05/2008 04:44:25 PM Comments (0)

The return of Hawthorn hard-nut Jordan Lewis underscores the ferocious potential of their AFL match against the Western Bulldogs.

The much-anticipated duel at Launceston's Aurora Stadium on Saturday will feature the unbeaten Hawks against the much-improved Bulldogs, who suffered their first loss of the season last Sunday against North Melbourne.

On the same day Brad Johnson's errant shot for goal after the siren meant the Bulldogs went down to the Kangaroos by three points, Lewis was a late withdrawal from the Hawks side that narrowly beat unfancied Melbourne.

An obvious reason for the Bulldogs' improvement this season has been their greater hardness and this is also a trait that Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson has instilled in his team.

Winning the contested football through the midfield will be a rugged task and it is a facet of the game where Lewis excels.

"Two weeks ago against Port Adelaide, Jordan Lewis was perhaps our most influential player - he and (Robert) Campbell and (Brad) Sewell," Clarkson said.

"He was a big `out' for us last week, together with (Brent) Guerra.

"To have him back in the side against the Doggies, who have been really, really good with contested footy, that's one of Jordan's great strengths as a player."

While Lewis has sometimes fallen foul of the match review panel, no-one doubts his resolve and ability.

Lewis is also a vital return for the Hawks because they are missing other important onballers.

Luke Hodge remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and the after-effects of an appendectomy, while Shane Crawford is nursing knee tendinitis.

While Hodge should return in the next week or two, Clarkson said the Hawks are unsure about Crawford.

The Brownlow Medallist missed last Sunday through suspension and would not have played anyway because of the knee injury.

"With tendinitis, sometimes they settle very quickly or sometimes they can drag along for six weeks," Clarkson said.

"We're not really certain, we'd love to be able to say he'll be playing by the Essendon game or playing by the Adelaide game, but we're not too certain when it's going to be."

One advantage for the Hawks will be Aurora Stadium, which has become a second home under their sponsorship deal with the Tasmanian government.

Hawthorn have made the most of this, winning seven of their last nine matches at the ground.

The Bulldogs, by contrast, have only played there once during the regular season, going down to St Kilda five years ago by 65 points.

The `Dogs trained at the stadium, no doubt to familiarise themselves with the often-windy conditions.

Typically, Clarkson would not buy into the possibility that home-ground advantage might become a factor.

"We like playing down there, you'd have to ask the Western Bulldogs at the end of the game whether they found it a disadvantage," he said.

Publicly at least, Clarkson also downplayed the significance of the match.

"I don't mean to be flippant when I say (this), because we've got a high regard for the way the Western Bulldogs go about it," he said.

"But it's just another hurdle for us to overcome ... we plan each week for a different set of personnel and a different strategy that they go about their football."

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