Hawthorn v West Coast

Buddy Franklin should be in action on Friday night. Image courtesy of: heraldsun.com.au
Image courtesy of: heraldsun.com.au

The finals start a week early for Hawthorn and West Coast with both teams having plenty to play for in Friday night’s clash at the MCG.  The Hawks currently sit atop the AFL ladder and can sew up the minor premiership with a win over the Eagles, who are desperately clinging to a spot in the top four heading in to the final round.

These two teams have a recent history of tight encounters with their last three clashes decided by a combined total of 20 points.  The Eagles have an abysmal record at the ‘G, though, with only a single victory against lowly Melbourne in 2010 from their last 10 starts there.   Their cause won’t be helped by the loss of luckless midfielder Matt Rosa who fractured his collarbone in last week’s win over the ‘Pies, in his first game back from a broken jaw.

Where it Will be Won – The last time these teams met at the MCG in 2008, Lance Franklin  and Jarryd Roughead  booted 11 goals between them.  Not much has changed since then, as Franklin (55) and Roughead (40) again lead all Hawks’ goalkickers, meaning an Eagles defence missing the reliable Eric Mackenzie (hamstring) will have its work cut out restricting Hawthorn’s spearheads.

The Eagles will be in with a shot of breaking their MCG hoodoo if they can get on top of the Hawks’ on-ball brigade.  Silky-skilled midfielder Daniel Kerr  has been West Coast’s prime mover in the second half of the season, racking up 29+ disposals in seven of his last ten games.  Expect him to have a big influence on the contest, as he did in the win against Collingwood last week.

Prediction – If the Hawks can kick their bad habit of starting slowly in recent weeks, then they should have too much firepower for an Eagles outfit which has an average interstate record this season, including losses to the Bombers and Lions.  Hawthorn 1-39

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