Hawks Flying Toward Minor Premiership

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Hawks forward Jarryd Roughead was held to one goal last weekend. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Last Five Matches

Round 5, 2013 – Hawthorn 99 d North Melbourne 96 at MCG
Round 10, 2012 – Hawthorn 174 d North Melbourne 59 at Aurora Stadium
Round 20, 2011 – Hawthorn 103 d North Melbourne 86 at Aurora Stadium
Round 5, 2010 – North Melbourne 82 d Hawthorn 70 at Aurora Stadium
Round 15, 2009 – Hawthorn 73 d North Melbourne 64 at Aurora Stadium


Form

     Rd 17       Rd 18       Rd 19       Rd 20       Rd 21   
Hawthorn    W  W  L  W  W
North Melbourne    L  W  W  L  W

After a couple of indifferent performances in the loss to Richmond and a scrappy win over St Kilda, Hawthorn tuned up for the finals with another dominating performance against Collingwood last Friday night. The Hawks have had the wood on the Magpies over the past couple of years and the 35-point win was achieved in relative comfort. The return of Lance Franklin, Luke Hodge and Grant Birchall has come at the right time of the season.

North Melbourne’s cracking percentage means if the AFL decides to strip Essendon of points, the Kangaroos are in prime position behind Carlton to take the last spot in the top eight. Since their devastating one-point loss to the Blues a month ago, the ‘Roos have looked impressive with the pressure off, recording big wins over Melbourne and Essendon, as well as a stunning Friday night victory over Geelong.

Aggressive midfielder Jack Ziebell returns for North Melbourne while Michael Firrito comes in as a direct swap for Nathan Grima who has a foot injury. Hawthorn gets back Brent Guerra and his booming left boot, along with Rising Star nominee Jed Anderson. Paul Puopolo has hamstring soreness while Taylor Duryea has been dropped.


Key Men

(Kangaroos) Drew Petrie – Life is difficult for key forwards these days against Hawthorn duo Brian Lake and Josh Gibson, but North Melbourne is one team that moves the ball quickly enough to get their forward options in to one-on-one situations. That will suit the likes of Drew Petrie perfectly. He was immense against Essendon grabbing ten marks to go with 20 disposals and three goals. He averages just one goal per game across his career against the Hawks, but the work he and Aaron Black did against the premiership favourites earlier this season allowed small forward Lindsay Thomas to dominate booting five goals from just six touches.

(Hawks) Luke Hodge – Apart from the glove on his right hand, there was no way you could tell Luke Hodge had undergone surgery on his thumb the week before Friday night’s win over Collingwood. The Hawks’ veteran was dominant across half-back picking up 28 possessions and eight marks. Lance Franklin’s return and bag of goals grabbed all the headlines, while all eyes were on Grant Birchall after such a lengthy stint away with injury, but making sure Hodge remains fit is every bit as crucial to Hawthorn’s premiership chances.


Prediction

North Melbourne’s record against Hawthorn is fairly similar to their recent history against Geelong; a few narrow losses coupled with a win or two. The Kangas are 8-4 at Etihad Stadium this season and since losing their opening two matches of the season there in close contests against Collingwood and Geelong, they have only dropped a pair of one-point heartbreakers against Adelaide and Carlton. They were impressive in dumping Essendon at the weekend, but as West Coast showed, a win over the Bombers at the moment counts for little in terms of form line. Two weeks ago you would have given North a massive hope in this one, but the brilliant return of three of Hawthorn’s biggest guns last week has surely put the rest of the competition on notice. They got close in round 5, but the Hawks had an off day and it will take a much better effort from the ‘Roos to be in the mix this weekend. Hawthorn by 24 points .

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