Hawks brace for Demons chaos in AFL final

Melbourne are revelling in the chaos of September with their Richmond-like pressure system, and Alastair Clarkson admits Hawthorn are doomed unless they can find a way to play Friday night's AFL semi-final on their terms.

Richmond's swarming pressure and unpredictability at stoppages was pivotal in their victory over the Hawks in last week's qualifying final, and the rampant Dees employed a similar style as they knocked Geelong out of premiership contention.

Finding a way to minimise the influence of star ruckman Max Gawn and the Demons' brigade of contested-ball specialists looms as the key to Hawthorn avoiding a straight-sets finals exit.

"We spoke about chaos ... that's where they're particularly strong," Clarkson said.

"Some of that's got to do with Gawn giving them first use of the ball but some of it's got to do with the fact they've got some really good hunters in there.

"(Jack) Viney coming back into their side helped them enormously in the first half in particular last week.

"If you can get your hands on the ball then you've got the choice of what you can do with it ... if we can do that, then we give ourselves a chance."

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said it was no secret the Demons thrived on chaos in much the same way as last year's premiers.

"I guess if you looked at our game style there are some similarities, certainly the way we tackle and our pressure and intensity, but there are (also) a lot of differences."

Both coaches acknowledged plenty had changed since Hawthorn thrashed Melbourne in round four despite Gawn racking up 66 hitouts.

Goodwin noted that while Hawthorn were better known for their precise ball use, they were also more than capable at the coalface.

"Without question I think people underestimate what they're like in the contest and their tackling," he said.

"We've looked at Hawthorn for the last month so we know what they're good at."

Neither coach was giving any selection hints ahead of Thursday evening's teams announcement.

The Hawks will name a replacement for premiership defender Ben Stratton (hamstring) ahead of the MCG clash and must also decide whether to stick with two ruckmen in Ben McEvoy and Jonathon Ceglar to negate Gawn.

Mature-aged recruit David Mirra and Taylor Duryea are in the mix to replace Stratton while Ryan Schoenmakers could benefit if the Hawks opt to go with McEvoy as their sole ruckman.

Melbourne are a strong chance to line up unchanged with key defender Michael Hibberd having fully recovered from knee soreness earlier in the week.

Australian Associated Press