Hawks not taking Dockers lightly in AFL

Surely Hawthorn against Fremantle is a lay-down misere.

The all-conquering AFL premiers, on their favourite ground, against the winless Dockers, who have never taken four points home from Tasmania.

It’s a recipe for an ungodly belting and it’s certainly happened before.

Hawthorn are on a winning streak of 16 in Launceston and have won all eight of their meetings with Fremantle there by an average of 45 points.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon has been known to spare players the long trip from Western Australia to Tasmania and, on this occasion, forward Matthew Pavlich, key midfielder Michael Barlow and defender Zac Dawson haven’t travelled.

There’s plenty of evidence the match will be another flogging but Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson doesn’t see it unfolding that way.

Clarkson said he saw plenty of fight in their past two weeks; losses to Adelaide (A) and GWS (H) and expected more on Saturday.

“Their wins and losses tell you they’re not going so well but, underneath, they’re actually not tracking too bad,” he said.

“There’s a lot of talent and experience in that side.

“At some point in time, they’re going to put something together that’s some pretty special football. I just hope it’s not tomorrow.”

The Dockers have added Clancee Pearce, Ed Langdon and Zac Clarke in place of their trio of experienced outs.

The Hawks have made two changes.

Cyril Rioli misses the match, heading to the Northern Territory due to a family illness, while 18-year-old Kieran Lovell has been omitted.

Lovell misses the chance to play in his home state, with the Hawks needing to make room for the returning Sam Mitchell.

“They’re a similar type of player,” he said.

“He’s got a great attitude. It’s a bit of a shame he couldn’t play in this game because he’s a Tassie boy.

“For the balance of our side, it didn’t suit us to have two little stumps in the same spot.”

James Frawley also comes back into the Hawks’ team.

So while others might see this as a chance for the premiers to improve their percentage – at 99.4 per cent, the worst figure at this stage of the season in seven years – Clarkson is out to improve another number.

“We deal in wins and losses. That’s all we’re searching for – nothing deeper than that,” he said.

“This is another chance for us to try and consolidate our position in the eight.

“We haven’t been playing our best footy this year but we’ve been able to win some games against some pretty good opponents.”

FREMANTLE DOCKED IN LAUNCESTON:

* 2015 – Hawthorn 17.13 (115) def Fremantle 6.7 (43)

* 2013 – Hawthorn 18.10 (118) def Fremantle 11.10 (76)

* 2012 – Hawthorn 17.17 (119) def Fremantle 9.9 (63)

* 2010 – Hawthorn 24.11 (155) def Fremantle 5.9 (39)

* 2006 – Hawthorn 17.7 (109) def Fremantle 13.9 (87)

* 2004 – Hawthorn 10.10 (70) def Fremantle 8.13 (61)

* 2003 – Hawthorn 15.8 (98) def Fremantle 10.8 (68)

* 2001 – Hawthorn 13.11 (89) def Fremantle 11.13 (79)

Eight straight wins by an average of 45 points.

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