Hawks are AFL prelim underdogs: Smith

Hawthorn are gunning for a historic third straight premiership but they are still claiming underdog status ahead of Friday night’s AFL preliminary final against Fremantle.

Hawthorn will return to Domain Stadium, the scene of their qualifying final defeat at the hands of West Coast two weeks ago, which winger Isaac Smith labelled “a bad day at the office”.

While he says his side will go into the match confident of a better performance this time, Smith feels the minor premiers deserve to go in as favourites on their home turf.

“Fremantle are going to be tough opposition, they finished on top for a reason, they’re a good side and we’re definitely the underdogs going into the game on their home ground,” Smith said on Monday.

“They’re the No.1 side in the competition, so we’re going to need to bring the heat to beat them.”

Bookmakers have taken a different view, however, installing Alastair Clarkson’s side as warm favourites to advance to the grand final.

The Hawks crushed Adelaide by 74 points to set up the clash and they did it without leading goalkicker Jack Gunston, who is still nursing an ankle injury.

Gunston will likely travel with the team to Perth and will be given every chance to prove his fitness but Smith is confident they have the weapons to again cover his absence if necessary.

“The other night proved that we can kick goals without him,” he said.

“I think we’ve kicked a few goals this year … we’ve got a few avenues to goal.

“If Jack plays it’s a bonus but if he doesn’t then you’ve got someone like Ryan Schoenmakers who plays and plays well.”

Overcoming the Dockers’ notoriously stingy defence will be one of the keys to the game but Smith, clearly a keen golfer, said that wasn’t the only dangerous club in their bag.

“I guess that’s their one-wood but they can score quickly as well,” he said.

“That’s their one-wood, to try and clamp you down and be really defensive and play like that, but if we play our offence (well) hopefully we can beat them.”

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