Coach Brad Scott has urged North Melbourne to match Hawthorn’s “confrontational” approach at the MCG, provided they do it smarter than in round 13 of the AFL season.
The recent trend of hostile clashes between the clubs looks set to continue on Saturday.
Hawks veteran Jordan Lewis, who was suspended for striking North ruckman Todd Goldstein last year, claimed this week the Kangaroos “like to try and get under our skin”.
Scott countered that Hawthorn had been the benchmark for a decade when it came to a “really confrontational, physical approach”.
“We aim to match that and try to replicate some of that pressure,” he said on Wednesday.
“The important thing is that you’ve got your mind in the right place. That’s to be really aggressive at the contest … we conceded too many free kicks last time.
“Maybe four of their first five goals came from free kicks. So we’d like to avoid that but still have that confrontational approach.”
Lewis noted a day earlier “it didn’t work for them last time”.
Scott felt it was simplistic analysis of North’s nine-point loss against the Hawks earlier this year.
“They kicked really accurately and we kicked really poorly. There’s a lot of ways of dissecting that game,” he said.
“(Suspended forward James Sicily) kicked five straight last time and he’s not going to do that this time.”
Scott dismissed the idea there was genuine hatred or animosity between the clubs.
“It’s just not true. Well not from our end anyway,” he said.
“What they’ve been able to achieve over a long period of time should be held up on a pedestal for every other club to try and emulate.
“We’ve got nothing but admiration, but it doesn’t mean we’re not fierce competitors.”
Eight-placed North need another win to guarantee their place in finals.
“Our focus is on playing the type of footy that is going to enable us to have an impact in September. If we’re able to do that in the next three weeks, the rest will takes care of itself.”
Scott was upbeat defender Scott Thompson and forward Ben Brown, who injured their adductor and knee, respectively, in a last-start loss to Western Bulldogs, will face the Hawks.
“(Thompson) is likely to get up,” Scott said.
“It’s not serious enough to rule him (Brown) out, so we’ll give him right up until the last second to make that call … we’re hopeful.”
Lachie Hansen looms as a likely inclusion if Brown isn’t fit.
Ben Jacobs, Luke McDonald and Shaun Higgins are also close to returning from injuries.