Hawks Desperate To End Cats Streak

Buddy Franklin should be in action on Friday night. Image courtesy of: heraldsun.com.au
Lance Franklin returns from suspension against the Cats. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Five Meetings

Round 15, 2013 – Geelong 82 d Hawthorn 72 at MCG
Round 1, 2013 – Geelong 93 d Hawthorn 86 at MCG
Round 19, 2012 – Geelong 118 d Hawthorn 116 at MCG
Round 2, 2012 – Geelong 92 d Hawthorn 90 at MCG
Qualifying Final, 2011 - Geelong 98 d Hawthorn 67 at MCG


Form

     Rd 21       Rd 22       Rd 23       F Wk 1       F Wk 2   
Hawthorn   W  W  W  W  B
Geelong   W  W  W  L  W

Hawthorn could hardly be coming in to this match in a better situation. The Hawks have posted five wins on the trot, including a pair of victories over Sydney, as well as triumphs over Collingwood and North Melbourne. They’ve had the week off after easily disposing of the Swans by 54 points in the qualifying final after the teams were locked together at half-time. After sitting out that match due to suspension, Lance Franklin returns, as does Cyril Rioli who hasn’t played since round 22 due to an ankle injury.

Despite winning 11 straight against Hawthorn, Geelong comes in as underdog after a bumpy run through the first two weeks of the finals. The Cats made hard work of Port Adelaide in last weekend’s semi-final, getting home by 16 points after they were down by 23 at the long break. That rollercoaster ride came after their loss to Fremantle at Simonds Stadium in the qualifying final, just the team’s third loss in 52 outings in front of the Cats faithful.

After bagging four goals in just his fourth game back from injury, veteran forward Paul Chapman will spend another week watching on from behind the fence after he was suspended for his high bump on Port’s Robbie Gray. With Corey Enright also ruled out after suffering a knee injury against Freo, the Cats have included speedster Jordan Murdoch and midfielder Josh Caddy with Taylor Hunt dropping out of the side.


Key Men

(Hawks) Lance Franklin – He has been a non-factor of late against the Cats, but after missing the Hawks’ first final due to suspension, it’s time for Lance Franklin to stand up against his team’s nemesis, in what could well be his final game for Hawthorn. Tom Lonergan has had his measure in recent times restricting the Hawk spearhead to just five goals in their past three match-ups. Fremantle is the only team ‘Buddy’ averages less goals per game against than the 2.7 he tallies against the Cats. With plenty of emphasis likely to be placed on restricting the Cats’ rebound from the back, Franklin will also have to play his part in pouring on the pressure in the forward 50 when his team doesn’t have the ball.

(Cats) Joel Selwood – Recently named All-Australian captain Joel Selwood is amongst the best big-game players going around. When Geelong was under the pump against the Hawks in round one, it was the Cats’ leader who turned the tide with a stunning third term, pushing his side to a seven-point win. He averages 28.5 disposals per game over his career against the Hawks, second only to the numbers he posts against the hapless Demons. He has 29 goals this season, too, showing how he is playing more of an attacking midfield role this year.


Prediction

Hawthorn has apparently spent the past 10 weeks compiling a scouting report on Geelong’s game plan. It’s no surprise given the Hawks haven’t come up trumps against the Cats since the 2008 grand final. Nine of those 11 matches have been decided by less than two goals, but rarely has Geelong dominated a match like it did in the 10-point win in round 15. The Cats were up by 33 midway through the final term as they strangled the life out of their opponents. Only a late surge and an interchange error which led to a goal made the score as close as it was in the end. Normally brilliant by foot, Geelong’s pressure led by countless Hawthorn turnovers and few teams can rebound like the Cats. Tom Hawkins and James Podsiadly could only muster one goal between them in that game, and with the former struggling with a back injury and the latter really struggling last week against Port, Geelong’s small forwards and mids may have to kick a winning score. The minor premier has made the grand final every year from 2006 onwards, while Geelong is attempting to become the first team to reach the GF after losing a qualifying final since West Coast in that same season. The loss of Corey Enright, in particular, is huge, and Chappy’s absence will be felt. If Hawthorn can’t win after getting the week off, you have to wonder when the Kennett Curse will end. Hawthorn by 18 points


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