Hawthorn are back on the horse, and they’re set to be boosted by the twin returns of David Hale and Brian Lake as they attempt to chase down a top-two berth.
The Hawks are now just two points adrift of the second-placed Eagles after coming from behind to beat West Coast by 14 points in Perth on Saturday night.
Hawthorn grinded out the 13.10 (88) to 11.8 (74) win despite resting both Hale and Lake for the high-stakes clash.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson expects the veteran pair to return for Saturday night’s crunch encounter with Geelong at the MCG.
“Lake was just a bit sore,” Clarkson said.
“He’s had a really heavy program.
“We didn’t anticipate perhaps at the start of the year that he would play as many games as he has.
“And he has just been a bit sore throughout the course of the week, and same with `Haley’.”
Defender Josh Gibson will be assessed during the week after hurting his left wrist early against the Eagles, while defender James Frawley will also be monitored after copping his second head knock in as many matches.
Hawthorn trailed West Coast by 18 points late in the third quarter before pulling off a gritty win in wet and windy conditions.
It came just a week after suffering a shock loss to Richmond.
After singing the team song, Hawthorn players broke into a boisterous rendition of Daryl Braithwaite’s 1990s hit single ‘The Horses’.
The ritual – performed after stirring interstate wins – was originally inspired by former Hawk Brent Guerra two years ago.
“We had a really stirring victory in Perth in early 2013, and it was ‘Goo’s’ favourite song, so he belted it out after the game,” Clarkson said.
“And is has become a little bit of a tradition for us whenever we have a really good interstate win – we get Horses going.”
After taking on the Cats on Saturday, Hawthorn face struggling trio Port Adelaide, Brisbane, and Carlton in a soft run home, giving them an excellent chance to snare second spot.
In contrast, West Coast face testing matches against Fremantle, Bulldogs (home), Adelaide (away), and St Kilda (home).
The Eagles will need to win at least three – but probably all four – if they are to retain second spot.
Clarkson isn’t stressing about where the Hawks finish – as long as it’s somewhere in the top four.
“Our goal all year has been to finish in the top four, and if we can finish as high as we can in that top four, it’s a real bonus,” Clarkson said.
“But it’s really all about getting that double chance. And if that takes us interstate in the first week of the finals (by finishing third or fourth), then so be it.
“We will play anywhere, anytime, and try to equip ourselves as well as we possibly can.”