Hawthorn v Collingwood Qualifying Final

Source: Michael Klein/foxsports.com.au
Sam Mitchell has a history of raising his game against the Magpies. Image courtesy of Michael Klein/foxsports.com.au
Collingwood has been less than convincing in the run-in to the finals losing to North Melbourne and West Coast, before finally getting back in the winners circle against the horribly out-of-form Bombers last Saturday night. In contrast Hawthorn cruised home with 12 wins from its last 13 starts with an average winning margin of 68. Importantly, they had a perfect finals preparation getting over the top of Sydney and West Coast to close out the home and away season.

The Pies took the points against the Bombers, but there was a noticeable lack of defensive pressure throughout the contest from Nathan Buckley’s men who managed just 47 tackles. There’s the excuse that his side had little to play for, but their tackle count has dropped from 72 per game in the final season of the Mick Malthouse era, to a smidge under 64 this year. They’ve particularly missed midfield wrecking ball, Luke Ball, and his near seven tackles per game.

The Hawks have won both matches between the teams this season and six of the last nine against the Magpies, all of which have been played at the MCG. Hawthorn has also led at halftime in the last three encounters. Lance Franklin  certainly gets himself up for clashes with the ‘Pies averaging a touch under five goals a game in his last seven appearances against them, although he missed the Round 17 win. Midfield maestro Sam Mitchell  also appears to lift against the black and whites, racking up 32 touches per game over the last five matches, which is seven above his career average.

Where it Will be Won - Magpies spearhead Travis Cloke  returned to form last week with a bag of five against the Bombers, to go along with 16 marks. Ryan Schoenmakers will probably get the job on him, with spoiling machine Josh Gibson no doubt lending a hand. They have generally had Cloke’s measure in the past; he averages two goals per game against Hawthorn, compared to his clip of 2.53 per game over the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Cloke did come up with the goods in last year’s three-point preliminary final win over Hawthorn, though, finishing with three goals alongside 19 disposals, 11 marks and five tackles.

By the Numbers - There could be some value in backing the fast-starting ‘Pies to be the first to 25 points. Collingwood’s for and against percentage in first quarters this season is 148.37%, compared to an overall mark of 116.46%. Take in to account the fact opening terms are by far the Hawks’ worst period of the game, and the Magpies are in with a good chance of getting off to a flyer. The first is unlikely to be the highest scoring quarter, though. Just 88 points were scored between these teams over the two opening terms they played this year. You can throw a blanket over the other three totals, though, as they scored 134 in the second , 127 in the championship quarter , and 132 in the final term .

Prediction – Hawthorn to have too many weapons up forward. Hawks 1-24  

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