HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson is happy to enter September with his smaller forwards doing the damage after Cyril Rioli, Luke Hodge and Luke Breust combined for 13 goals in the Hawks' 36-point win over Geelong on Saturday night.
Rioli was the star at the MCG with six goals, including two gems out of stoppages and two running into an open goalsquare after outworking his opponents.
His performance and Breust's (three) and Hodge's (four) bags of goals overshadowed the Hawks' tall pair of Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston, who shared three goals, playing decoy for their smaller teammates.
Small forward Paul Puopolo kicked one goal but had a team-high three score assists and laid eight tackles to create scoring opportunities.
"It was pleasing that we got our goals in a different sort of way tonight than perhaps relying so much on Roughead and Gunston and these sorts of guys," Clarkson said.
"It was just the manner in which it went in (that helped the smalls) … sometimes you've just got to go long and deep.
"'Hodgey' was able to get forward a little bit tonight and we haven't been able to do that much through the course of the year.
Clarkson said his team was fortunate Geelong key defender Tom Lonergan had been a late withdrawal with illness, but the Hawks "had to work hard" for their goals regardless.
The reigning premiers went into attack 54 times for 26 scoring shots, while the Cats had 43 inside 50s for 25 scoring shots.
"We didn't feel like we were in control of the game as much as we would like through the course of the night," Clarkson said.
"By kicking 19 goals it could seem that it was easy, but we had to work hard for our goals.
"The game lied to us in a sense in terms of who was in control in the last quarter, and I felt Geelong were pretty much in control of it for that period of the game."
The Hawks sit in second place on Saturday night and that is where they will remain at the end of the round if West Coast loses to Fremantle in Sunday's Western Derby.
Clarkson, however, would not be drawn on the importance of a top-two finish going into the finals.
"We can't control that. If West Coast win their next four, they stay there," he said.
"All we can control is what is in put in front of us and that is Port Adelaide next week.
"We're working really hard to build up the wins and hopefully there's enough at the end of the year to have us in the top two spots on the ladder.
"But if not, then we'll just work our way through the finals series from whatever position we finish."