Tough stretch to test Hawks' form - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tough stretch to test Hawks' form

By Sam Lienert 31/03/2010 06:57:52 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn star Luke Hodge says the next three weeks will show the Hawks where they stand in the AFL pecking order.

The club were happy with their opening round performance, a very comfortable 56-point win over a disappointing Melbourne.

But Hodge said three upcoming matches against premiership contenders, starting with reigning premiers Geelong at the MCG on Monday, would give a more precise guide.

"Our next three weeks is going to show us, we've got Geelong, Collingwood and the (Western) Bulldogs," Hodge said.

"There's probably no three bigger teams, with the form they're playing with at the moment, so it's going to be a big test for us."

But the match-up with the Cats holds a special place, with the two clubs having produced some classic contests in recent seasons, notably the Hawks' 2008 grand final win.

Their most recent clash was also an epic, the Cats overcoming several injuries and a 28-point deficit in the final quarter in round 17 last year to win by a point and help ruin Hawthorn's finals bid.

Geelong coach Mark Thompson said at the time that match had convinced his players that "anything can happen in a game of footy".

Hodge said the Hawks knew they would always be in for a massive fight against the Cats.

"You always know they're going to keep fighting back and they did and they pipped us in the end, but hopefully not this time," he said.

"You always build yourself up for games against Geelong, we've always had close games."

Geelong forward Cameron Mooney said the Cats also took extra motivation into games against the Hawks.

"It's very exciting, actually, they've obviously got one over us in the big one, which is the most important one," Mooney said.

"So every time we come up against them we've always got a bit of a score to settle."

The Hawks will welcome back Lance Franklin and Chance Bateman from suspension, while Hodge said speedy small forward Cyril Rioli should play after overcoming a groin problem.

"He trained today and he looked pretty good, so hopefully he gets through on Friday and we'll see him on Monday," he said.

The Cats have lost veteran defender Darren Milburn to a hamstring injury.

Mooney said it might provide an opening for 28-year-old recruit James Podsiadly to make his AFL debut, even though he plays at the opposite end of the ground.

"James Podsiadly had a really good (VFL) game on the weekend, so he might come in," he said.

"Whether a defender goes out and a defender comes in or a forward comes in, I'm not sure yet."

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