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Rioli an AFL finals ace up Hawks' sleeve
Sam Lienert
11:29 AEST Sat Sep 1 2012
Rioli is an AFL finals ace up Hawks' sleeve
The Hawks decision not to start Cyril Rioli was partly about keeping him fresh for the AFL finals.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says Cyril Rioli's substitute role against West Coast on Friday night was partly about the AFL minor premiers keeping something up their sleeve ahead of their opening final.

The Hawks downed the Eagles 14.11 (95) to 10.10 (70) at the MCG in what Clarkson viewed as an ideal finals tune-up, to sew up top spot and ensure they will start the finals at home.

Rioli returned from a two-match absence with a shoulder injury to have a big impact after coming onto the ground late in the third quarter, although the Hawks already had the match in control.

Clarkson said the decision not to start the star small forward was partly about keeping him fresh and giving some of the team's lesser lights greater opportunity, but also about keeping something in reserve.

"You want to keep your powder dry a little bit," Clarkson told reporters.

"There's every chance that we could play West Coast again next week and you don't want to show everything you've got in one particular week.

"We'll just wait and see how the results pan out.

"But he'll certainly be a starter for us next week."

The Hawks will be missing defender Brent Guerra, who by the way he hopped off the field late in the game with a hamstring injury seems set to miss at least the Hawks' first two or three finals.

Hawthorn were confident Jack Gunston (ankle) and Brendan Whitecross (corked thigh) would not miss any football.

Similarly, West Coast said key forward Josh Kennedy should be fine to play in their first final, despite hobbling off after having his left ankle jarred by a Josh Gibson smother in the last quarter.

"He's okay, he was up and running, he went back on and he looked okay," coach John Worsfold said.

Worsfold remained confident his side could have a big impact on the finals despite the defeat.

"We don't need to take anything out of tonight confidence-wise," he said.

"What we take out of tonight is learning points about what Hawthorn did, what we did, what we can do better.

"There was never any doubt in our mind we can match it with Hawthorn in terms of playing good footy against them."