HAWTHORN will be wary of North Melbourne's experienced campaigners when they face off in a bottom-of-the-ladder AFL clash in Launceston.
Saturday's match shapes as a must-win for Hawthorn, chasing their third victory of the year - but winless North Melbourne have improved significantly in recent weeks.
The likes of Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Todd Goldstein have been typically positive - while young gun Tom Powell has been particularly impressive.
"They've been really strong the last two or three weeks," Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said.
"(Jack) Ziebell and (Aaron) Hall playing across half-back have been really strong for them and (Todd) Goldstein and (Ben) Cunnington.
"It's been their old brigade - the guys that are experienced and they're just really showing the way for their younger players and they've been able to show some good form.
"We're hoping we can show the same - some of our leaders play some good footy tomorrow with some of our younger guys stepping up as well and hopefully it'll be a really good contest."
Clarkson cited both Hawthorn and North Melbourne's recent strong performances against ladder-leaders Melbourne as reason to expect a fierce contest.
"We've both played Melbourne in the last two or three weeks and both sides were in front at half-time," Clarkson said.
"... Obviously when you play the good sides it's being able to sustain that sort of performance for four quarters and both we and North couldn't do that against Melbourne.
"But there was parts of our games we really liked, playing against good sides."
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Hawthorn expect to regain key midfielder Jaeger O'Meara after two weeks on the sidelines with "groin and hip discomfort", along with ruckman Jon Ceglar (ankle).
But forward Jack Gunston will miss at least two weeks - and could well be sidelined until after the mid-season bye - after a back issue flare-up while veteran Shaun Burgoyne (ankle) is at least a week away.
The Kangaroos lost Jaidyn Stephenson (wrist) and Aiden Bonar (ankle) to injury, while Trent Dumont is likely to return.