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Finals Face Off #13 Dew v Brereton

10:00am  Sep 23, 2017

56 years ago today...

6:00am  Sep 23, 2017

 

Challenge accepted

Marc McGowan  May 30, 2017 11:44 AM

Isaac Smith 'Happy hunting grounds up there' Isaac Smith spoke to the media at the Ricoh Centre today as Hawthorn prepare to take on Port Adelaide this week.

The challenge Hawthorn faces to make an eighth straight finals campaign is an enjoyable one, star wingman Isaac Smith says. 

The Hawks have not finished outside the top eight since Smith was drafted in 2010, with a blip in 2009 – a year after winning the premiership – the only miss since making the second week in 2007. 

A horror 1-5 start to this season, including three losses by 75 points or more, put Smith's record in danger, but three victories in a month have Hawthorn back on track.

The next step is fixing its ghastly percentage of 79.1, with only bottom sides Carlton and the Brisbane Lions worse off in that area.

"It has turned around a little bit, but it's still not exactly where we'd like to be," Smith said. 

"But challenges are good fun and we're finding the positives in it and working forward as a team.

"It's funny, you watch games of footy and … we've lost to someone by 50 or 60 points, then they go out and lose to a team we've beaten.

"It's a tough season to read, (but) what is there, 12 rounds to go or something? We're (one game and percentage) out of the eight, so we're certainly not out of it."

First-year skipper Jarryd Roughead's late match-winner against Sydney on Friday night repeated history after injured forward Cyril Rioli managed a similar feat last season at the SCG.

Dallas Willsmore and rookie James Cousins made their debuts in the Swans win and there is an increasing number of young players in four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson's remodelled line-up. 

Read: Unfamiliar side record familiar result

"We've got some pretty special players that are injured at the moment and we've got some young guys playing and we're getting experience into them," Smith said.

The Hawks' late fightback to beat Sydney masked the fact they lost their eighth third quarter in 10 rounds this year and Smith said it was an area of concern. 

"I think Clarko mentioned in his press conference a couple of weeks ago that our third quarters have been far from ideal," he said.

"We're working on it and trying to figure out ways to get better and, obviously, teams are thinking they can really get us in those quarters. 

"We've just got to bind together as a team and play better at that time, but what was pleasing was Sydney just got up in the third quarter and we were able to rally."

Read: Our Round 10 game summarised in GIFs

Hawthorn has just a six-day turnaround before playing Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night in a match that could see the Hawks draw level with the Power on five wins. 

"We really enjoy going to Adelaide and I know personally I do," Smith said.

"The stadium over there is unbelievable and the Adelaide and Port fans are pretty special to play in front of because they're very vocal.

"The group's in a good spot after winning against Sydney at the weekend, so hopefully we can go over there and get the chocolates."