Clarkson backs Hawks against tall Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clarkson backs Hawks against tall Cats

Greg Buckle 25/04/2011 02:33:42 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is backing his undersized defence to overcome Geelong's giant forward-line in Tuesday's MCG clash.

The unbeaten Cats have recalled the 197cm, 105kg big man Tom Hawkins to play alongside key forwards Cam Mooney and James Podsiadly in the round-five game between two of the AFL's in-form sides.

The Hawks, with three wins from the opening four rounds, are scrambling to cover for backman Ben Stratton's season-ending knee injury.

Hawthorn could only manage a seven-point win last round in Launceston against West Coast, as Hawthorn's defence was stretched by West Coast's tall forwards.

But Clarkson was quick to defend his backline when asked if they were fighting a losing battle against taller line-ups.

"West Coast tried that last week," Clarkson said on Monday.

"It looked really damaging for them in the last five minutes of the game, but up until the 28-minute mark of the last quarter, West Coast had kicked six goals (finishing with 9.11 to Hawthorn's 10.12).

"But I reckon we defended pretty well.

"Sides are going to try to pick sides against us in terms of height up forward. Geelong may have tried to do that again by bringing in Hawkins.

"(Josh) Gibson and (Stephen) Gilham and (Luke) Hodge have played a lot of footy together so we think they're more than capable of being able to be competitive down there and hopefully rebound the ball out."

Clarkson also faces concerns up forward with Buddy Franklin kicking six goals of Hawthorn's 10 goals against West Coast, and fellow key forward Jarryd Roughead contributing only one.

"He (Franklin) is a very, very dominant character in our forward half and demands a lot of the footy," Clarkson said.

"But thank goodness we had him last week. We couldn't find a way forward easily.

"It took some pretty special efforts from Buddy to get us across the line.

"But if we've just got to rely on Buddy to be our major source of goals then we're in a little bit of trouble.

"The better sides will spread those and we need to do that as well.

"It's not our intention to just have one focal point in our forward half. Sometimes it just pans out that way."

Clarkson admits Hawthorn's form has been patchy and says the Hawks are a long way off top form.

They're also chasing their first victory against Geelong since the 2008 grand final, although the past four encounters have all produced single-figure margins in Geelong's favour.

The loss of Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett to Gold Coast hasn't harmed Geelong's midfield power, Clarkson says.

"I'm not sure in the history of the game anyone has won as many games over a four-year period as what Geelong has won. It's up around 85 per cent," he said.

"Their midfield is still the strongest part of their game. They've got so many blokes who can go through there.

"They've even increased that a little more this year with Steve Johnson going in there more and (David) Wojcinski mixing up between half-forward and wing."

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