Nervous AFL week for Williams, Chapman - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Nervous AFL week for Williams, Chapman

By Roger Vaughan and Adam Cooper 21/09/2008 04:24:05 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn forward Mark Williams and Geelong utility Paul Chapman face nervous starts to AFL grand final week, but Luke Hodge appears certain to play in the decider.

The Hawks also insist star forward Lance Franklin only jarred a thumb in his quiet preliminary final on Saturday night.

While Hodge and Franklin represent good news for Hawthorn ahead of their first grand final appearance in 17 years, the club will sweat on the AFL match review panel's assessment of a last-quarter incident involving Williams and St Kilda defender Max Hudghton.

Williams collided with Hudghton while the Saints fullback was on the ground, trying to gain possession.

"I haven't actually seen the footage, so I'm not too sure about it," Williams said of his incident.

"I remember him getting the free kick, that's all I remember so that's all I can take from it.

"He (the umpire) just said `high' ... that's all I can remember."

Williams was Hawthorn's best forward, kicking five goals.

Chapman missed Friday night's 29-point preliminary final win over the Western Bulldogs with a hamstring injury and he must prove his fitness to play for the defending premiers in the grand final.

The Cats ruled out Chapman early last week, but football manager Neil Balme said that would only happen again if the outlook was negative - something they don't expect.

"As (coach Mark Thompson) has already said, it's a matter of putting the work into him and seeing how he recovers," Balme said.

Chapman's return would create a massive selection dilemma for Geelong, because young forward Travis Varcoe had his grand final berth guaranteed by Thompson after an impressive performance against the `Dogs.

James Kelly and David Wojcinski are among a small group of players who could conceivably be omitted to make way for Chapman's return.

Hodge's renowned toughness gained added currency after a clash with Saints ruckman Justin Koschitzke early in the 54-point preliminary final win left him coughing up blood at quarter-time.

A Hawthorn club doctor had a stethoscope on Hodge's back at the first break, checking for any lung damage.

Hodge also had to leave the field in major distress after a second-term collision, but he returned to the field and ran out the game without any extra trouble.

"There are no problems - he was obviously checked at quarter-time by the doctors to make sure he was safe to keep playing," said Hawks football manager Mark Evans.

"Once he was deemed to be safe, it was going to be about how well he performed during the rest of the game.

"He's run hard, he's tackled hard, he's marked the ball with no problem, so he will be fine.

"If this was round 12, 13 or 14, he would play - given it's a bigger game than that, you can guarantee he'll play."

While Williams will be the big news to come out of the match review panel findings, whatever the ruling, Saints utility Brendon Goddard appears certain to face a charge.

His forearm swing floored Hawks captain Sam Mitchell.

On Friday night, Geelong withstood a strong Bulldogs challenge to win their preliminary final 12.11 (83) to 7.12 (54).

On Saturday night, the Saints farewelled legend Robert Harvey, but not the way they wanted.

The Hawks smashed them in the second term on the way to an easy 18.10 (118) to 9.10 (64) win..

While Geelong will start favourites in the grand final, a punter has placed $400,000 on Hawthorn at $2.90 to win.

The bet is worth $1.16 million if the Hawks upset Geelong and it has forced Sportingbet Australia to shorten their Hawthorn odds to $2.75, while the Cats are at $1.45.

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