Hawks expect big rebound in AFL finals

Alastair Clarkson says history suggests defending champions Hawthorn will rebound in their AFL semi-final against Adelaide.

The Hawks were disappointing in a 32-point qualifying final loss to West Coast last weekend but the coach predicted his team would deliver a better performance in their do-or-die MCG match on Friday night.

Clarkson said history gives them confidence they will get the job done.

“We’ve played some good footy over a long, long period of time,” he said.

“We put in a bad one every now and then like everyone does but I reckon we’ve done it less than most so it gives us a fair amount of trust and faith that we will get a response this week.”

Clarkson bristles at suggestions his team was battle-weary and their era of success could be over.

They have five premiership players, including skipper Luke Hodge, aged over 30.

“We gave the whole footy world a fair amount of ammo last week to have a crack at us and rightly so, we performed well below our expectations.

“But we’d won six finals prior to that and there was no mention of us not being a proud group or talented group after any of those victories.

“It was only six weeks ago everyone was saying we were unbeatable and now everyone’s fallen off, it doesn’t worry us.

“If any group’s entitled to have an off day it’s probably this group, but we can’t afford to be in that sort of form Friday night otherwise we’ll get `pantsed’.”

The Hawks lost star forward Jack Gunston with an ankle injury suffered against the Eagles, with youngster James Sicily vying with Ryan Shoenmakers to be his replacement.

While not having Gunston is a blow, Clarkson said they had the depth to cover him.

“We’ve had that right through the journey of our club; we lost Roughy (Jarryd Roughead) for a couple of games through that (cancer) scare and managed to beat Fremantle by 12 goals down in Tassie,” Clarkson said.

“It’s not ideal because you’d like your better players to be out on the park but the chances of getting them out there in one hit is usually pretty rare.”

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