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Swans, Hawks to clash for AFL top spot
Sam Lienert
19:53 AEST Sun Aug 19 2012

Sydney's motivation for Saturday's AFL table-topping SCG battle with Hawthorn will be trying to beat the best, not claiming the minor premiership.

The Swans moved a game clear in top spot by thrashing the Western Bulldogs 26.11 (167) to 13.7 (85) at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The Hawks climbed into second with their 19.15 (129) to 10.5 (65) belting of Gold Coast at the MCG.

In Sunday's other match, fifth-placed West Coast outclassed Port Adelaide 14.14 (98) to 6.14 (50) at AAMI Stadium.

If the Eagles beat fourth-placed Collingwood in Perth on Saturday night they will replace the Magpies in the top four.

While Hawthorn have one less win than the Swans, superior percentage means they will take top spot if they can beat Sydney in Saturday's twilight encounter.

If the Swans win, they will have all but sewn up the minor premiership with a round to spare.

But coach John Longmire said that was not the key motivator.

"I don't think too many people remember it," the Swans coach said.

"Beating Hawthorn at home, that's what's important for us.

"It's playing well against really good teams. It's as simple as that, that's the challenge for us, playing well against the best going around."

The Swans had started the round ahead of Adelaide and Collingwood only on percentage, with the Hawks a game back in fourth.

But the Crows' shock 13.17 (95) to 12.13 (85) loss to Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday night and the Magpies' 13.13 (91) to 8.13 (61) defeat by North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium changed the top four's complexion.

Fremantle climbed into the eight with Saturday's 13.16 (94) to 11.6 (72) win over Richmond at Patersons Stadium, snuffing out even mathematical finals hopes for the Tigers.

But in a concern for the Dockers, Matthew Pavlich, who kicked three goals to take his AFL-leading season tally to 60, needed treatment during the match for hamstring and achilles tightness.

The Dockers replaced Essendon in eighth spot, after the Bombers continued their late-season nosedive with Saturday's 24.12 (156) to 8.12 (60) belting by Carlton at the MCG, their fifth straight defeat.

They also lost defenders Dustin Fletcher (groin) and Jake Carlisle (ankle).

The ninth-placed Blues sit just one win behind Fremantle, but need the Dockers to lose to in-form North Melbourne at Etihad on Sunday to climb into the eight.

St Kilda are all but out of the race after Friday night's 18.15 (123) to 11.15 (81) loss to Geelong.

In the weekend's other game, Melbourne beat bottom-placed Greater Western Sydney 11.18 (84) to 9.5 (59) in Canberra.


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