Hawks Soaring Towards Minor Premiership

Buddy Franklin should be in action on Friday night. Image courtesy of: heraldsun.com.au
Lance Franklin returned to form with eight goals last week. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Five Matches

Round 9, 2012 – Richmond 137 d Hawthorn 75 at MCG
Round 3, 2011 – Hawthorn 115 d Richmond 52 at MCG
Round 8, 2010 – Hawthorn 89 d Richmond 86 at MCG
Round 21, 2009 – Hawthorn 135 d Richmond 93 at MCG
Round 20, 2008 – Richmond 105 d Hawthorn 76 at MCG


Form

     Rd 14       Rd 15       Rd 16       Rd 17       Rd 18   
Hawthorn    W  L  W  W  W
Richmond   W  L  W  W  L

When you are first on the ladder with only two losses to your name, not much can get better. That is, unless you’re Hawthorn , which had the luxury of welcoming back gun forward Lance Franklin last Friday night, and he duly delivered booting eight goals in the 56-point thumping of then second-placed Essendon. Apart from the two slip ups against Geelong, the Hawks are bubbling along nicely, although they still have a few tests prior to the finals.

One of those comes this weekend as Richmond tries to bounce back from its 47-point loss to Sydney on Sunday. The Tigers weren’t that bad, but the Swans showed there is a big class gulf between the top three and the rest of the competition. Apart from the win over an undermanned Fremantle last week, the Tigers’ form has been scratchy over the past month, and they’ll need to improve with examinations against the Hawks, Blues and Bombers to come.

Hawthorn welcomes back utility Shaun Burgoyne with youngster Jonathan Simpkin dropping out of the side. Richmond will miss Ricky Petterd (groin), Tyrone Vickery (concussion) and Matt Arnot (back), with Luke McGuane, Orren Stephenson and David Astbury coming in to the 22.


Key Men

(Hawks) Lance Franklin – After a couple of weeks off thanks to a knee injury, Lance Franklin looked refreshed on Friday night as he destroyed Essendon with a stunning eight-goal effort. It was just his second bag of five goals or more this season, and after some indifferent performances and his role seeing him pushed further up the ground, ‘Buddy’ put the rest of the competition on notice with his haul against the Bombers. Alex Rance kept him to just one goal when the teams last met in a blanketing display, but much of the pressure will fall on Richmond’s mids in preventing quick ball from getting to Franklin and his forward line.

(Tigers) Jack Riewoldt – The Coleman Medal is well and truly up for grabs, and for Jack Riewoldt to grab it for the second year running, he’ll need to come up with performances similar to the one where he booted six goals in Richmond’s stunning victory over Hawthorn last season. He has only kicked more than three goals in a game once since round seven, and finished with his average of three against Sydney yesterday. As much as the Tigers have a more balanced forward line this year, another big effort from Jumpin’ Jack is needed against the Hawks.


Prediction

Richmond is one team which doesn’t seem to be intimidated by Hawthorn. The Tigers have won two of the last five matches between the sides, and last year they monstered the Hawks by a whopping 62 points . Richmond is 6-3 at the MCG this season, but their losses speak loudest. They’ve gone down to Collingwood by 34 , Geelong by 44 and Essendon by 29 ; the Tigers are putting away the teams they should beat, but they’re still looking for that big scalp. After having their injury concerns mid-season, things seem to be falling in to place for Hawthorn, which is a scary proposition for every team apart from Geelong and Sydney. Hawthorn by 29 points .

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