HAWTHORN expects to lose injured defender James Frawley to another stint on the sidelines, but coach Alastair Clarkson is uncertain how long the prized recruit will be out of the side.

Frawley was substituted out of Saturday's 38-point win over Essendon at the MCG in the second quarter, after he hurt his left shoulder in a marking contest.

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"He wasn't good enough to be able to return to the field obviously. He's got some sort of shoulder damage," Clarkson said.

"Whether that's AC (joint) or dislocation, I'm uncertain. He'll need to be scanned and assessed and we'll be able to indicate what his time out of the game will be.

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"If you can't come out on the ground that's usually a pretty good indication they're going to be unavailable for the next game. Just how serious it is I'm none too sure at the moment."

Bizarrely, Frawley injured himself at the same part of the MCG – inside 50 at the Punt Road end – against the Dons in round two, and missed four games with a torn pectoral.

While Frawley's injury – and a potential ankle issue sustained by likely replacement Matt Spangher in the VFL on Saturday – soured the win for the Hawks, they expect livewire Cyril Rioli to return to face the Pies.

Clarkson said Rioli was given compassionate compassionate leave to attend the funeral of a close friend in Darwin this week.

"We knew early in the week. The funeral was yesterday morning and we just ‘ummed and aahed’ in the first few days of the week whether he would fly back (for the game)," he said.

"It was a particularly close friend of Cyril's. You sit down and say 'Why did you select him in the side if you knew he wasn't going to play?', it was because Cyril didn't want attention around the funeral.

"We just wanted to have some respect for the family, so they could grieve in the right way, and so Cyril could as well.

"Obviously he's a very important player to our side, but never as important as grieving for loved ones. So he missed today, but he'll be a pretty handy addition to come into the side next week."

Rioli missed a spiteful contest between the arch-rivals, with tensions flamed by the back page of The Age newspaper featuring a photo of Bombers coach James Hird and the headline 'I hate them more than anyone else'.

Clarkson pinned the back page to the whiteboard pre-match, although he doubted it had much impact firing up his players.

"When articles happen to lob on the back page of the paper about the opposition coach hating our club, I reckon there's not a coach in the competition that's not going to use that," Clarkson said.

"Did it win us the game? You would say if we're going to have an impact we were going to come out pretty fiery in the first 10 minutes of the game and we were pretty scratchy in that area of the game."

The Bombers had the upper hand early through their tackling ferocity, but missed important shots at goal as the Hawks worked back into the game.

Jack Gunston bagged three important first-half goals, while Paul Puopolo bagged four majors – three to spark the Hawks in a pivotal six-goal-to-two third term.

Sam Mitchell – who came under fire for motioning to some Bombers players that he was injecting his arm in the fourth quarter – was instrumental in the win with 33 touches, despite a corked leg from a Shaun McKernan tackle.

"We speak about (Luke) Hodge and (Jordan) Lewis and these sorts of guys. He's just as tough as them – in some cases tougher – gee, he's been an important player for our side in that regard," Clarkson said.

The coach paid particular praise to tough nut Taylor Duryea (22 touches) and Jarryd Roughead, who again showcased his versatility up the ground.

"He's had 29 or 30 touches today and won some important clearances for us, shared the ball really well and kicked 1.3. If that could have been 3.1 or 2.2 his influence on the game would have been profound," Clarkson said.

"It's allowed us to mix and match a little bit in terms of our midfield as well as our forward line.

"Rough hasn't had a huge scoreboard impact in the past four or five weeks and we're still managing to win games of footy and guys are spreading the load, which is really pleasing for us."