Hawks happy as Williams cleared - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks happy as Williams cleared

By Sam Lienert 22/09/2008 07:14:32 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn has had a bright start to their first AFL grand final week in 17 years, with preliminary final goal-scoring hero Mark Williams cleared to play Geelong in Saturday's decider.

The Hawks sharpshooter was the one player from either grand final side facing a genuinely nervous wait for the match review panel's assessment of the weekend's preliminary finals on Monday.

Williams made high contact with veteran St Kilda defender Max Hudghton while the Saint was bent over the ball late in Saturday night's big win by the Hawks at the MCG.

But he was saved grand final heartbreak when the panel on Monday cleared him of any wrongdoing, ruling contact was made only to Hudghton's back and not to his neck or head.

Williams' clearance to play is crucial to the Hawks' chances of upsetting the Cats on Saturday, given his role as a small, agile foil to more prominent forward targets Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead.

He gave a timely demonstration of his value against St Kilda on Saturday night, booting 5.4 to ensure the Hawks had no problems kicking a big score despite regular matchwinner Franklin having a rare quiet game.

It was Williams' biggest return of the year and took his tally to 43 goals from 21 games for the season so far.

"It's fantastic, Mark played really well on the weekend," teammate Trent Croad said on Monday of Williams being cleared.

"He really stepped up and the best thing about our forwards, they're all combining and each one of them are playing their own part.

"At any individual time one of them can step up and that's been a huge strong point for us this year, but having Mark available will be great for us."

Minor incidents from Saturday night's game involving two other Hawks were also reviewed.

Ruckman Robert Campbell was cleared over contact with Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt, as was midfielder Jordan Lewis over contact with David Armitage, with the impact deemed too light to constitute an offence in both cases.

The good news from the match review panel came on top of positive news on the injury front, with the Hawks certain Luke Hodge (ribs), Croad (foot) and Franklin (thumb) will play on Saturday.

Hodge, who was coughing up blood after being crunched in a marking contest by Justin Koschitzke on Saturday night, can expect to be tested physically by Geelong at every opportunity, although Cats skipper Tom Harley said on Monday they would not go out of their way to target him.

"He's a very tough strong player and he's going to have the Hawthorn jumper on like 21 other blokes out there," Harley said.

"They're the opposition and you go out to play them hard and fair and play the ball, so I wouldn't have thought you'd necessarily run out of your way to do anything like that."

Croad said there was no doubt Hodge would stand up to any punishment delivered by the Cats and would continue to courageously place himself in the way of the opposition's leading forwards.

"He'll be fine. It's the way he plays his football, it's the way he contributes to the team and he plays his role in helping us all out in that way," Croad said.

"It's just a common week for Hodgey to be bashing and crashing into packs. Nothing much fazes him."

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