Hawks can rally in AFL, says Hodge

Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge has backed the two-time defending AFL premiers to rally, saying their best remains good enough.

He also has not given up hope that forward Jack Gunston might recover quickly from a serious-looking ankle injury.

The Hawks’ qualifying final loss to West Coast on Friday night means they will have to do it the hard way if they are to make it three flags in a row.

Adelaide are brimming with confidence and riding a wave of high emotion ahead of next Friday night’s semi-final at the MCG.

If Hawthorn win that, they must return to Perth for the preliminary final against Fremantle ahead of the grand final.

“If you go back 10 weeks, we played some pretty good footy against Fremantle, against Sydney as well,” he told Channel Nine’s Footy Show.

“Any team in the top eight … at their best, they can beat anyone.

“That’s why the ladder was so even this year.

“I still have a lot of confidence that our best football can match it with the Freos, the Sydneys, West Coast.

“But first of all, we have to get Adelaide on Friday night.”

Gunston was helped from Domain Stadium with his ankle injury in the last term of the loss.

“I messaged him yesterday – he said he woke up okay,” Hodge said.

“But I guess he’ll have some scans and they’ll reassess.

“It didn’t look good at the ground, but he reckons he was a lot better yesterday morning when he woke up.”

Hawthorn’s kicking, normally so precise, was unusually sloppy against the Eagles and they paid dearly.

“Their pressure was outstanding, but also we missed a lot of targets,” Hodge said.

“We missed a few shots on goal that, if you kick them early, it might get (you) a bit more in the game.

“Their second and third quarters were outstanding – they ran us off our feet.”

West Coast also used their home ground advantage to perfection and gave the Hawks no room.

“Especially on that oval – obviously it’s a bit narrower than other ovals – everywhere you looked, you saw a West Coast player when you had the ball,” Hodge said.

“If you held onto the ball for too long, they were right onto you.”

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