North rivalry good for Hawks: Clarkson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

North rivalry good for Hawks: Clarkson

By Adam Cooper and Leonard Siragusa 20/06/2008 02:21:45 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson believes a rebirth of one of the AFL's great rivalries is good for the game and for the development of his finals-bound side.

Saturday's clash against North Melbourne at the MCG could be a fiery affair given the clear ill-feeling on display in the past two clashes, which resulted in a total of four Hawthorn players earning suspensions.

Clarkson said a renewed rivalry between the clubs - which played off in 10 finals (including three grand finals) from 1974-78 - could work to his players' favour, given the Hawks have emerged as the competition's next power and won 11 of their 12 opening games.

"When there's a lot of intensity and heat on in the game it's good for our players to experience that because so often that's what finals games are like," Clarkson said.

"The more big games - we played Collingwood before about 75,000 people five weeks ago - is a fantastic experience for our players.

"With our membership ticking over 41,000 now, we're really hopeful this club can start to generate some really strong crowds and get some really big games, and that will prepare us well for the day when we play regular finals footy."

Clarkson expected another tough, physical contest from the Kangaroos, especially after they lost to Fremantle by 53 points and their place in the top eight.

"They're a dangerous side when they've got their backs to the wall, the Kangaroos," Clarkson said.

"They've lost their last three and I'm certain they wouldn't have been pleased with their performance over (against) Fremantle.

"So we're expecting a tough contest, we've got enormous regard for the way the Kangaroos have gone about it for a long period of time and we know it's always a fierce contest when we play them."

North coach Dean Laidley dismissed the rivalry as a theme, and said his side had to instead focus on out-muscling the Hawks by winning a greater share of contested possessions.

That will also require Josh Gibson and other Roos backmen repeating their efforts from last year's semi-final, when they held Hawthorn star Lance Franklin to 3.3 and won by 33 points.

"Gibbo's played on him the last two times I can't see any reason why he won't play on him again for the majority of the time," Laidley said.

"Shannon Watt might get a go, (Michael Firrito) might get a go.

"Look he averages eight or nine shots on goal, you've just got to hope he kicks 2.7 rather than 7.2."

Franklin booted 5.4 in round three, when the Hawks overran North in the final quarter.

That game was also notable for the blows dished out to North's Daniel Pratt, from Hawthorn's Jordan Lewis, who copped a one-game suspension, and Campbell Brown, who labelled the Kangaroos defender "extremely soft" and "pathetic" for going to ground.

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