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Momentum the key against 'Pies: Clarkson

By Roger Vaughan and Greg Buckle 22/09/2011 06:20:56 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has warned the dramatic momentum shifts that have marked their AFL finals series so far will probably continue against Collingwood.

The Hawks will start underdogs in Friday night's blockbuster preliminary final against the Magpies at the MCG.

Geelong stung Hawthorn with two bursts of goals in their qualifying final, while Sydney put the pressure on the Hawks with a third quarter run-on during last Friday night's semi-final.

While Hawthorn were unable to recover against Geelong, they held their nerve against the Swans and eventually killed off the comeback to reach Friday's clash.

"That's what happens when you come to this pointy end of the season, it's hard to hold these really good sides for four full quarters," Clarkson said.

"It's just like five sets of a tennis grand slam - you start to get the quarter- and semi-finals and you've got some really cracking games.

"You don't win 6-1 6-2 6-3 in semi-finals very often.

"It's unlikely we're going to get through this game against Collingwood - if we do salute at the end, there's going to be a patch of the game where Collingwood have some momentum and be on top."

Clarkson can cope with the Magpies surging, so long as his team is able to do so better.

"It's swings and roundabouts but you've just got to make sure your momentum is greater than theirs for longer," he said.

Clarkson is confident the Hawks can cause a big upset by beating the reigning premiers and reach their first grand final since the 2008 flag.

He noted that there was plenty of steel in this Hawks team, given they overcome several key injuries through the season to make the top four.

Hawthorn had won eight straight games before the qualifying final loss to Geelong.

"Maybe you just think it's all going to happen and you're going to continue on your winning ways," Clarkson said.

"We got sat on our backsides pretty severely that particular night, we came out with a much better application last week against Sydney.

"We genuinely believe if we can have that similar type of application against any side ... whether it's Collingwood or anyone else, we'll (give) ourselves a chance.

"We're in for the fight."

Clarkson added that the key would be their intensity at the ball, an area where Collingwood are faultless.

Hawthorn have won five of their last seven matches against Collingwood but only one of the last three.

The Magpies beat them by 41 points in round 15.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse said the bumper crowd would be a factor on Friday night as players struggle to communicate properly amid the noise.

"It's much more animated than a grand final, much more - so there's more noise, less verbal instructions get through," he said.

"There's a lot of arm-waving. There's a lot of things happen that you just get absorbed in that you can't really control.

"It's very important that you pick a side that is going to be able to cope with those variances."

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