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Hawks say Cats hoodoo not an issue
Robert Grant
13:16 AEST Sun Mar 31 2013

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has dismissed as irrelevant the Hawks' consecutive string of close losses to Geelong but admits his team need to focus more on the closing minutes of the game.

The Cats have won every clash since the 2008 grand final but seven of the nine games have been decided by less than 10 points.

There has been less than a goal in three of the past four but Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson does not see Monday's game at the MCG as a hoodoo match.

"We've always had great games against them but we just haven't been able to get over the post in the crucial last minutes of the games," Clarkson said.

"We need to get better at that but we've played some good football against them and it's not like we've been wiped off the park."

He said tweaking the team could help reverse the trend on Monday.

"We need to persevere. Even our side from this time last year is a little bit different again.

"We're playing a first-gamer in Jed Anderson and another young player in Bradley Hill. We're hopeful that just a couple of changes to our side might help us to get across the line against them," he said.

Clarkson said Hawthorn needed to play out games until the final siren when two top sides were involved.

"We know at different stages we'll be on top in the game and have the momentum and at different stages the Cats will.

"We've just got to make sure that in the final part of the game we're in front.

"It all depends when the siren goes - we've been in front on two of those (past) occasions and the siren's gone and they've kicked goals or points after the siren.

"But we're not worried about the past, it's all about tomorrow."

Cats key forward Tom Hawkins was Hawthorn's heart-breaker in their most recent clash, kicking a huge goal after the siren to secure a two-point win in round 19 last year.

Hawthorn small forward Cyril Rioli and defender Brian Lake will go into the game with an interrupted pre-season but Clarkson is not concerned about them in the opener in particular.

"They're okay but it's not ideal going into round one with not the same amount of game time as some of the other players," Clarkson said on Sunday.

Clarkson said skipper Luke Hodge came through Saturday's VFL game at Box Hill well but still needed more game time before he could be considered for the seniors.

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