Hawks, Cats eye off another finals clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks, Cats eye off another finals clash

By Adam Cooper 26/07/2008 01:15:15 PM Comments (0)

Rival coaches Mark Thompson and Alastair Clarkson have admitted they didn't hold anything back in anticipation of Geelong and Hawthorn clashing in this year's AFL finals.

Instead the Cats and Hawks played their full hands at the MCG on Friday night even though they could play again in September after Geelong won the round 17 opener by 11 points.

Before a massive crowd of 86,179, the reigning premiers continued their outstanding campaign by making the better of their chances and withstanding to win 12.16 (88) to 11.11 (77).

Thompson said he made no attempt to keep an ace up his sleeve tactically ahead of next time against the Hawks, which could realistically come in the grand final.

"What you got tonight is similar to what you're going to get when we play the Hawks again," he said.

Clarkson agreed: "Both sides will change but I don't think there was anything held in the bank by both sides."

Geelong's win followed last week's demolition of the Western Bulldogs, and means the Cats have beaten both their major rivals in successive rounds.

But Thompson was unsure if that would give his side any psychological edge entering the finals.

"It's a good question but I'm not sure. I don't think it really counts for that much, because when we play Hawthorn or the Bulldogs again, the teams will be different," he said.

"We'll hopefully have Gary (Ablett) back, and (Cameron) Ling back, and (Darren) Milburn, and (David) Wojcinski, so I don't think (last) night counts that much.

"We didn't win it convincingly.

"We never crushed them, it was a really tight affair, so they should be pretty proud of their efforts too, Hawthorn.

"They're a good football team and we respect them.

"And they haven't lost any respect tonight."

The above quartet will all push for inclusion for Saturday's game against Richmond, but half-forward Paul Chapman, who strained a hamstring and spent the second half Friday night on the bench, could miss the next two games.

Clarkson admitted his side lacked the polish Geelong had as the Hawks could not make the most of their chances and conceded goals through bad errors.

But the coach said his side would benefit from the big-game experience.

"You just can't buy that type of opportunity," he said.

"Over 85,000 people, against a quality opponent against Geelong, who have taken all before them for 18 months.

"There's some sides trying to narrow the gap on them and we are one of them.

"We are not quite there yet, but we've got a young group and plenty of upside to our side.

"We look forward to the opportunity to have another crack at them hopefully later this year, but if not, over the next couple of years.

"We know they're the measuring stick and we're chasing hard."

Clarkson said Hawthorn's side could also be boosted, by the returns of Shane Crawford, Ben McGlynn, Stuart Dew and Clinton Young.

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