'Crook' Hodge should be okay

Sportal September 23, 2012, 11:34 am
Luke Hodge

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Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is confident Luke Hodge will be fit to return to the side for next weekend's grand final against Sydney.

Hodge was a late withdrawal ahead of Saturday's preliminary final with a case of gastro, forced to look on as his side scraped through to the last Saturday in September in an unconvincing five-point win over a valiant Adelaide.

Following the match, a relieved Clarkson said he was confident his captain would be right to take on the Swans as the Hawks look to claim their first premiership since shocking Geelong in 2008.

"He was just crook," declared Clarkson.

"He had gastro and yeah when your captain rings the doctor and says, 'I'm feeling a bit crook', you know he must be pretty crook.

"He just lacked a bit of energy and so he'll get a spell and he'll be right for next week."

Clarkson said defender Brent Guerra would also be given a chance to prove his fitness this week, even though the coach felt it would go 'down to the wire' whether he recovers from a hamstring injury in time to face Sydney.

Even if Guerra is not fit, Clarkson knows he has plenty of match-winners remaining in his side ready to step up to the plate when the contest is on the line, as Cyril Rioli and Ben Stratton proved in Saturday's result.

Expected to rollover against the Hawks, Adelaide were set to produce one of the great finals upsets when they strung together four unanswered goals to turn a 22-point deficit into a one-point lead 21 minutes into the final term.

But the Hawks refused to panic and a classy Shaun Burgoyne clearance from the middle led to Rioli taking a pack mark and goaling to give his side back the advantage.

Moments later, a goal beckoned for Adelaide's Patrick Dangerfield as he ran onto the ball in the forward 50, but Stratton produced a quality tackle to halt the star Crow.

Dangerfield could possibly have been awarded a free kick for a hold but the call was never made and Hawthorn took the ball down the other end for Lance Franklin to seal the contest with a goal.

"Big games require some pretty special moments sometimes and they were pivotal," said Clarkson when asked about Rioli and Stratton's efforts in those dying stages.

"But you just come to expect that from players who have been doing those sort of things for the whole year.

"But, you know our whole group handled the last couple of minutes of the game pretty well and we need guys stepping up at crucial times and those boys both did that at the crucial time."

Clarkson, though, said his side needed to work on their conversion after keeping Adelaide in the game by scoring 19 behinds in an untimely reminder of last year's preliminary final, where poor kicking by Hawthorn allowed Collingwood to snatch a famous, dramatic three-point win.

"There's been plenty of times in games like that where poor kicking actually costs you," he said.

"And we're lucky tonight that it didn't.

"We only just got across the line but yeah we'll hopefully get that conversion right this week and we (we have) only got one more crack at it haven't we, so we need to get it right this week."


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