Sam Mitchell plays his first game for the Hawks this season against the Bulldogs. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Michael Klein
One of the intriguing sub-plots of this game hasn’t come to fruition after former Bulldog , now Hawthorn defender Brian Lake pulled up lame with a calf injury and wasn’t listed in the Hawks’ squad. How much he’ll be missed down back is debatable as the Bulldogs attack was anaemic last season, as shown by the fact their highest score in an 11-game losing streak to finish the year was 85, and seven times they failed to kick double-digit goals .
The Doggies weren’t overly competitive in their first two outings in the NAB Cup a fortnight back, either, as Essendon easily accounted for Brendan McCartney’s side by 26 points before Collingwood cruised home against them by 18. The Hawks have shown no mercy on their rebuilding opponent, bringing prime movers Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell and Jordan Lewis in after they missed the pre-season double on the Gold Coast last weekend.
Hawthorn lost both of those matches to the Suns and Lions, but Alastair Clarkson did go in with a relatively inexperienced line-up while the Queensland outfits weren’t far off full strength as they tried to build some winning form heading in to the season. Cyril Rioli will miss Friday night’s match due to an ankle problem while Paul Puopolo injured his knee late in the one-point loss to the Gold Coast and won’t play.
The Hawks won the last match between the teams by 72 points in round 16 of the 2012 season. Injury-plagued forward Shaun Higgins kicked three of the Dogs’ six goals that day; he’s not in the line-up for this match and neither is another goalkicking option, Jarrad Grant, who is facing a make or break season after being taken at 5 in the 2007 draft. Hawthorn has claimed the Bulldogs’ scalp the last four times they’ve clashed.
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