As Hawthorn prepare to sure themselves for a late run at finals football, assistant coach Scott Burns is optimistic about his group following two nail-biting finishes.
Sitting 13th on the ladder with six wins and nine losses to their name, the Hawks fell by six points to reigning premiers West Coast before defeating Collingwood by four last Friday night.
"We've played a little bit better over the last two weeks," Burns said.
"There are still things we want to do better but when you come up against the two grand final teams from last year and lose one by a goal and a win one by a goal, it means you aren't too far off but you've got to improve still."
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The Hawks looked down and out against the Magpies last week but were able to pull it all together and produce a come-from-behind victory, one that Burns believes instilled the group with the confidence needed prior to their Fremantle clash.
"There's times this year where we have been up and haven't quite been able to win games. I'm not sure what our average losing margin is but it's not much.
"To be down like that, for the boys to solidify what they were doing and put it back together and get the win was pretty impressive."
Facing the 11th-placed Fremantle following their devastating 91-point derby loss against West Coast, Burns is still wary of the threat the Dockers possess, with their midfield being the potent ingredient.
They've got a really strong midfield, damaging midfield and some good players up forward as wellHawthorn assistant Scott Burns on their opponents, Fremantle
"I think they've done terrifically well this year, playing some really good football, being smashed by injuries as well.
"They've been relatively consistent, even last week against West Coast, they still had 60 inside-50s so they have played some really good football.
"They've got a really strong midfield, damaging midfield and some good players up forward as well with Hamling, Ryan and Wilson down back that are certainly playing good football as well."
The Hawks made two changes to their side that defeated Collingwood with Tasmanian Grant Birchall rejoining the line-up for the first time since round 15, 2017 as he and Chad Wingard come in for the omitted Connor Glass and injured Jack Gunston.
"I was talking the other day, myself and Darren Glass haven't had the privilege of coaching him [Grant Birchall] at all on game day so it's nice.
"When I was at Collingwood and West Coast, he was just a headache for opposition teams. We aren't expecting him to come straight in and do what he's done in previous years but just for him to be back out there after two years off, we are just really happy."
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