Hawks Set To Bounce Back

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Jarryd Roughead has been in career-best form this season. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Last 5 Meetings

Round 20, 2012 – Hawthorn 159 d Port Adelaide 87 at Aurora Stadium
Round 11, 2012 – Hawthorn 108 d Port Adelaide 62 at AAMI Stadium
Round 21, 2011 – Hawthorn 197 d Port Adelaide 32 at MCG
Round 7, 2011 – Hawthorn 104 d Port Adelaide 72 at AAMI Stadium
Round 18, 2010 - Port Adelaide 92 d Hawthorn 84 at AAMI Stadium


Form

  Rd 11    Rd 12    Rd 13    Rd 14    Rd 15 
Port Adelaide

B

W

W

W

L

Hawthorn

B

W

W

W

L


For three-and-a-half quarters, Geelong looked a cut above Hawthorn on Saturday night in their 10-point win . The Hawks’ ball use was well below its usual standard, and the Cats’ defenders kept their opponents well held for most of the night. After 12 straight wins, having your weaknesses exposed probably isn’t the worst thing as it gives coach Alastair Clarkson something to work on for the remainder of the premiership rounds.

Port Adelaide had a golden opportunity to pick up a major scalp on Sunday when Justin Westhoff’s bump on Jobe Watson left Essendon without its Brownlow Medal winner for the rest of the match. Inaccurate kicking in the final term cost the Power any chance of launching a comeback, but it was a shocking start to the second term that really cruelled any chance of victory. That loss snapped what was a promising three-match winning streak.

Enigmatic forward John Butcher comes in for the suspended Westhoff while Matt Thomas has also been included. Tough nut Hawk Brad Sewell has been omitted with defender Brent Guerra making his return.


Key Men

(Power) Brad Ebert – After returning to his home state from West Coast for the 2012 season, Brad Ebert showed Port Adelaide fans what cross-town rival Adelaide had missed out on when they knocked him back in the 2007 draft (in fairness, they probably made the right choice grabbing Patrick Dangerfield). He finished second in the club’s Best and Fairest, and now in 2013 he has lifted his game to another level. Against Essendon last weekend he amassed 36 touches and took eight marks. Since round 12, when Port started its recent three-game winning streak, he has averaged 30 disposals, eight marks and five tackles per game.

(Hawks) David Hale – Port Adelaide’s ruck division isn’t quite up there with the best in the competition, and they’ll find it tough against Hawthorn’s duo of Max Bailey and David Hale. The latter has always been able to go forward and kick a goal, and this season he has managed 12 goals in 13 games. He booted two last week against Geelong (even if one did comes courtesy of an alleged interchange infraction by the Cats), but his height and marking ability stretches even the best defences.


Prediction

The worst thing that could have happened to Port Adelaide was Hawthorn getting rolled by Geelong. From 2010 onwards, the Hawks have only lost back-to-back games in the same season once, so you can expect the competition leader to bounce back strongly this weekend. The Hawks have romped home in four straight matches against Port, with 32 points the closest the Power has come in that run. Port suffocated the Swans and Magpies in successive weeks in rounds 13 and 14, so Ken Hinkley’s side is certainly capable of springing an upset, although both of those wins came against teams coming off the bye, which has proved to be a hazard this season. Geelong provided a blueprint last weekend, but Port doesn’t quite have the cattle the Cats do. With Cyril Rioli having a game under his belt, Hawthorn’s forward line should be back to working like clockwork sooner rather than later. Hawthorn by 24 points .

Click here to bet on AFL Round 16 matches