Hawthorn fans with high blood pressure might not appreciate it but coach Alastair Clarkson has warned of another nail-biter AFL preliminary final when the Hawks play Fremantle on Friday night.
The Hawks have triumphed on the second-last weekend of the season for three years straight by less than a goal, and in 2011 found themselves on the wrong side of a close one with Collingwood.
For whatever reason, it seems Hawthorn can’t escape drama on preliminary final weekend.
Last year, Hawthorn survived a tense battle with bolters Port Adelaide with a three-point scrape.
In 2013, they got the Geelong monkey off their back in a come-from-behind five-point win over the Cats.
The year before that, Adelaide’s Graham Johncock almost brought about Hawthorn’s demise before Lance Franklin’s last-minute heroics ensured another five-point triumph.
And in 2011 the Hawks were denied by Collingwood by three points after leading the minor premiers for most of the night.
To Clarkson, they are games that forge the team together to fight on the biggest day in September.
“Our last four prelim finals have all been decided by less than a goal – as you’d expect with two fierce sides going at it, big prize to get into a grand final,” he said.
“I don’t expect tomorrow to be any different really and I probably wouldn’t want it any other way leading into a grand final.”
Friday night’s contest has been widely tipped to be the closer of the two Domain Stadium finals.
Sportsbet has set the line at 9.5 points, with the Hawks starting favourites despite playing against the minor premiers on their own deck.
The same bookmakers have set West Coast’s line at 30.5 points for Saturday night’s second preliminary final against North Melbourne.