Hawks coach sees positives despite loss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks coach sees positives despite loss

By Sam Lienert 05/04/2010 07:10:07 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says his side can take heart from pushing Geelong all the way in their hard-hitting MCG clash and have plenty of scope for improvement.

While the Hawks lost 14.16 (100) to 13.13 (91) to the reigning AFL premiers on Monday, they signalled they will be much closer to the form that took them to the 2008 flag than their disappointing 2009 season which yielded just nine wins and no finals action.

Hawthorn led from the outset and were two goals up halfway through the final quarter, before the Cats finally swamped them, kicking the last 3.3 of the match.

The Hawks had some excuses, losing forward Rhan Hooper to a hamstring injury in the first quarter, while midfielder Jordan Lewis was lost to an ankle injury early in the last term.

Pacy forward Cyril Rioli also struggled to run out the match, in his first game for the year after a groin injury, while Lance Franklin and Chance Bateman were returning from suspension.

"We're pretty pleased with the effort of our guys, they're obviously a quality outfit and we were in front of the reigning premiers for probably 95 per cent of the game and they just toppled over top of us in the last five minutes," Clarkson said.

"They're going to do that to plenty of sides, but we'll get better, with some of our guys who haven't played much, like Cyril and Buddy (Franklin) and Chance, they'll be better for the runs.

"We'll take a lot of positives out of today's game, but we didn't get the chocolates, which is a little bit disappointing for us."

Rioli was very impressive early, particularly with his chasing and tackling, and pulled off a sensational tackle on Geelong superstar Gary Ablett in the final term, to set up the Hawks' last goal of the match.

"Some of the things he did early in the game, it was just really exciting to have him back, so he'll get better with a bit more game time I'm sure," Clarkson said.

But the Hawks coach said in the end it was the Cats' size and strength which made the difference.

Geelong won the clearances 27-11 in the second half and Clarkson said "strong, hard bodies" won out.

"That's probably what overwhelmed us in the end ... they just ended up dominating the fall of the ball in the middle part of the ground. It was nearly like a dam wall about to break in the last quarter."

That aspect of Hawthorn's game should be helped in the coming weeks by the return from injury of experienced midfielders Shaun Burgoyne and Brad Sewell.

But the Cats' tall forwards Cameron Mooney (four goals) and Tom Hawkins also exposed the Hawks' lack of a genuinely big key defender, helped by ruckman Brad Ottens also spending stints in attack.

"The contested marks were enormously in favour of the opposition and we need to get better at being able to halve some of those contests in our back end," Clarkson said.

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