Hawthorn’s premiership hopes don’t rely on the Hawks snaring a coveted top-two finish, according to Alastair Clarkson.
Hawthorn are two points adrift of second-placed West Coast with three rounds remaining and they won’t achieve their goal of finishing the season first or second on the ladder if the Eagles win their remaining matches.
But the Hawks scored an impressive 14-point win over West Coast at Subiaco in round 19 and Clarkson said a potential return bout in September holds no fears for his team.
The triple-premiership coach won’t worry himself with potential ladder scenarios and is focused instead on keeping the pressure on the Eagles by winning their remaining games, starting with Friday night’s clash against Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium.
“If we do (win against Port) we keep alive our chances of trying to secure that second spot but if it doesn’t happen then, as we proved two weeks ago, we can go to Perth and still win, so we’re not real fazed too much about it either way,” Clarkson said on Thursday.
“We can only deal with what we can control and if West Coast win their last three games then they retain second spot on the ladder.
“We can’t do too much about that except control what we’ve got to do and that’s face Port Adelaide and try and win that game.”
The Power are 12th with nine wins heading into the clash while Hawthorn will be looking for their 15th win of the season.
Port, a popular pick to finish in the top four this season, have endured a disappointing campaign but Clarkson believes they’re a tougher prospect than their ladder position suggests.
“We’ve got a significant challenge tomorrow night – their best is up amongst the best five or six sides in the competition,” he said.
“They’ve played some good footy over the last four weeks and won three of those games.
“They’ve probably freed themselves up a little bit without the burden of expectation that they had earlier in the year and they’ve played some pretty good footy.
“They’re a fast and attacking side and they’re playing on a pretty fast deck on Etihad Stadium … so they’d fancy their chances on that basis.”
The Power stormed to an early lead over the Hawks before holding on for an eight-point win at Adelaide Oval in round four and Clarkson said denying Ken Hinkley’s side a similar opening blitz was a key focus for the Hawks.