HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson has welcomed the looming selection dilemma that a fit Cyril Rioli could present after the Hawks progressed to a preliminary final on Friday night.

Rioli could add to a forward line that was at its even best against Geelong at the MCG, with the star forward close to returning from a hamstring problem that has sidelined him since round 15.

As the skilful premiership-winning Hawk prepares to ramp up his training, Clarkson will have time to ponder who potentially makes way for Rioli after the Hawks dismantled the Cats in the final quarter to win their qualifying final by 36 points. 

"That'd be a welcome [selection] problem to have," Clarkson said on Friday night.  

"We're quite happy with the progress he's making, and if he continues to make that progress over the next fortnight then he'll give himself a chance to be available for the prelim final.

"He's still got a few boxes to tick, and I'll leave that to our medical people and our conditioning guys to just give us some indication over the next week to 10 days whether he's going to be available."

Hawthorn received an even contribution from its forward line on Friday night, with Jack Gunston and Jordan Lewis leading the team with three goals and Jarryd Roughead botting two in an otherwise quiet performance.

Small forward Paul Puopolo (two goals) and Luke Breust (one) played cameos and bobbed up at important times.

At the other end, key defender Brian Lake was superb in shutting down key Geelong forward Tom Hawkins, who kicked 1.2 from seven possessions.

"He's an important player for us, just because of his size and he just reads the ball in flight so well off the opposition's kicks," Clarkson said of Lake.  

"If we can keep him fit, I think our back end functions better when he's in it. He was pretty good tonight."

Sam Mitchell was the star in the midfield, winning 13 of his 36 possessions in contests and six clearances.

Clarkson praised his inside and outside players for complementing each other on Friday night.

"(Bradley) Hill was strong, (Isaac) Smith was strong and (Grant) Birchall was strong," he said.  

"Lewis was able to kick three goals and it's really important for our midfielders to kick goals."

The Hawks have now won three of their past four clashes against Geelong, with the Cats' run of 11 wins between 2009 and 2013 now a distant memory.

Clarkson said he didn't feel like Hawthorn had taken control of the rivalry, adding the clubs would continue to have "epic battles".

"It didn't feel like the balance of power was that way (in our favour) through the game," he said.  

"You guys might have felt like the balance of power in the game shifted, but it wasn't until the last three or four minutes of the game that we felt like we were going to win.

"It was a great finals contest tonight."

Clarkson said ruckman Ben McEvoy, who continues to wait for an opportunity as Jonathon Ceglar and David Hale combine well at AFL level, would play with Box Hill next week to push his claims.

He said the club was confident defender Matt Suckling (knee) would play at some level next week, although he has not qualified to play in the VFL finals.