Isaac Smith of the Hawks.
Isaac Smith of the Hawks. JULIAN SMITH

Hawks using bye to fine-tune for Cats clash

AFL: Hawthorn has welcomed the pre-finals bye as it prepares for a shot at its fourth-straight premiership.

The Hawks have limped into the finals, suffering two defeats in their last four games, and only narrowly avoided finishing seventh and being forced into an elimination final next week with their one-point win over Collingwood.

Instead they ended up third and will contest a qualifying final against Geelong at the MCG.

Before then they have the chance to regroup before taking on their arch rivals, says wingman Isaac Smith.

"We've not been disappointed in the way we've been playing, but we believe we can definitely play better," he said.

"It's probably a good time to take check and realise where we weren't performing and where we can get that five or 10 per cent better.

"We've looked over a few things this week and we're looking forward to next week."

Smith said he believed the Hawks were now the hunters again, naming Geelong favourite for the blockbuster on Friday night.

"There's two teams above us on the ladder so we're definitely going out to hunt them," he said of the Cats, who finished behind minor premier Sydney in second place.

"They've got the right to be the favourites going into the game."

The Hawks are expected to regain defender Ben Stratton (torn pectoral) after he trained yesterday, and ruckman Ben McEvoy (back/glute), despite him being a no-show on the track.

Hawthorn, meanwhile, is leading the charge to sign Ben Jarman, who qualifies as a father-son recruit for both the Hawks and Adelaide after dad Darren played in premierships at both clubs.



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