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Hawkins just one of many threats for Port in qualifying final: Hinkley

Football

Port Adelaide can’t afford to overly focus on Geelong’s man mountain Tom Hawkins in Thursday night’s AFL qualifying final, Power coach Ken Hinkley says.

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Hawkins looms as a game-breaker when the AFL finals series begins at Adelaide Oval.

The star forward is the Coleman medallist and booted six goals in the Cats’60-point flogging of Port in round 12.

But Hinkley says Hawkins is just one of many threats for Geelong, who were the AFL’s highest-scorers this season.

“We talk about Tom Hawkins, but if (Patrick) Dangerfield is down there and (Gary) Rohan is down there and Gary Ablett is down there – there’s a few people that you have to worry about,” Hinkley said.

“There’s an enormous amount of challenges for everyone in the game tomorrow night.”

The Cats have axed recruit Jack Stevens and Esava Ratugolea, preferring Rhys Stanley and Tom Atkins.

Port summoned Ryan Burton, Tom Clurey and Zak Butters to replace Jarrod Lienert, Riley Bonner and Boyd Woodcock.

Clurey, who has overcome a hamstring strain which sidelined him from round 18, is poised for first crack at Hawkins despite being towelled up by the Cats spearhead in round 12.

But Hinkley said Hawkins’ haul was more the product of the dominance of his Geelong teammates than any Clurey shortfall.

“You ask both teams, both coaches, they would say the same thing: that (six goals) is an end result of a lot of things that go on,” he said.

“Whether that’s the opposition being good with the ball, whether that is being poor in defence, they certainly all played factors.

“Tom (Hawkins) to his credit that night was in awesome form. He was unstoppable almost in that game.

“But if we go back to the game here last year when we played against Geelong, I don’t think Tom kicked a goal, Cluz (Clurey) had the better of him.

“Form is relevant because it’s there. But it’s the next game that is really important.”

Thursday night’s winner will advance to a preliminary final, with the loser tossed into a cut-throat semi-final.

-AAP

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