Still time to make AFL eight: Hawks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Still time to make AFL eight: Hawks

By Robert Grant 03/07/2009 04:08:07 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has denied the reigning AFL premiers' finals hopes will be sunk if they lose to the in-form Western Bulldogs on Saturday.

The Hawks have been hit by injury and poor form and are struggling for consistency and will have to improve dramatically to have a chance of a flag defence.

The Bulldogs are in outright third place and their confidence is high after a run of four straight victories.

But Clarkson says there is still time for the Hawks to turn around their season, although he admits another loss will seriously lengthen the odds.

"All we know is that if we do win it gives us a better chance of playing in September and if we lose it makes it more difficult," Clarkson said.

"We're sitting just outside at the moment and current form would suggest we're going to need to get a wriggle on, otherwise we run the risk of not being there when it matters most."

Hawthorn emerged from last year's qualifying final against the Dogs with a 51-point win and Clarkson hopes the players can call on that win to boost their hopes at Etihad Stadium.

"There were certain areas of that game which were outstanding in terms of hardness at the footy and putting enormous pressure on the Bulldogs side when they had the ball," he said.

"If we can mirror those type of performances and efforts, then we give ourselves a real good chance.

"We know we are capable of beating this side if we apply ourselves in the right manner in those areas of the game.

"We haven't been able to maintain that type of consistency in our game, in those areas of the game, for long enough periods to give ourselves a chance to win games consistently. But we know we are capable of doing it.

"Our form for the best part of the season hasn't been near the level we know we're capable of.

"We know that over the course of the last nine rounds of the season we need to improve to be able to get ourselves into the eight."

Hawthorn's line-up is expected to be strengthened by the return within a fortnight of brilliant forward.

Defender Trent Croad could be ready for selection within three weeks.

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