Freo must lap up Sandi s hit-outs

Michael Barlow says he and his fellow Fremantle midfielders must make the most of star ruckman Aaron Sandilands' brilliant early-season form in Friday night's blockbuster against Hawthorn at the MCG.

Barlow said his thoughts had quickly turned to the Hawks in the wake of the Dockers' grinding 48-point win over the Gold Coast Suns at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.

The premiers were down by nine points in the dying minutes against Essendon last Friday night, but found a way to win despite Sam Mitchell, Ben Stratton, Brian Lake and Brad Sewell all watching on from the sidelines and captain Luke Hodge being subbed out in the third term.

"I did have a think about who we have got next week on the ground after the game," Barlow said. "It's a pretty scary thought to know watching them Friday night, their depth is really first-rate.

"They have got probably five or six of their best team - walk-up starts - out and they have been getting the job done.

"It's a really exciting challenge for us."

Barlow said the Dockers would benefit from having played the Hawks on the same ground in last year's grand final.

"We will benefit from it a lot, just being able to review that game," he said. "We have had a really good look at that game already and identified areas we weren't good enough.

"Over the first two weeks of this season we have put those improvements into our game."

Barlow was outstanding against the Suns, cashing in on Sandilands' complete dominance to gather 32 possessions and chip in with two goals.

But he pointed to their performance in the grand final when they dominated the hit-outs 55-27, but lost the clearances 42-34 as proof they would not have it all their own way against the Hawks.

"I think in the grand final Aaron was fantastic but our mids weren't good enough at utilising his dominance so that's an area we have got to improve to make sure we give ourselves every chance," Barlow said.

"As all teams do, they will go with a big plan against Aaron but he will get his hand to the ball a lot of the time so it's a big challenge for our midfield, regardless if Hodge or Mitchell play.

"(Jonathan) Simpkin has stood up, Bradley Hill has gone to another level.

"They are hungry and they have shown up in the first two weeks of their season and said they are not going anywhere."

Hawthorn star Jordan Lewis has denied the team will be vulnerable on Friday night despite potentially having only 14 premiership players.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson hopes captain Hodge can recover from his groin injury, although All-Australian Mitchell is a doubt with a calf problem.

Sewell (hamstring) and Stratton (calf/hamstring) are expected to return to full training this week but must pass fitness tests, while Lake is still suspended.

Lance Franklin is now a Sydney Swan, and Max Bailey and Brent Guerra have retired.

Five members of Hawthorn's team that beat Essendon had played 20 games or less but Lewis said fighting back from nine points down in time-on proved the Hawks weren't vulnerable.

"Clarko has said it all along - you lose a soldier, you replace him with another one," he said.

The West Australian

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