Written by Rhys Knight & Jake Smith
The media has done what it can to make Hawthorn feel unbelievably hopeless and dragged the Hawks through the proverbial stains of the competition and after a loss to the improving North Melbourne, the Hawks have an opportunity to bounce back against a Carlton side that could be the most mentally fragile unit we’ve seen in 20 years. The Hawks need to answer their internal critics and show themselves and the fans that they stand for something; each other.
Ins: Ned Reeves, Damon Greaves
Outs: Tim O’Brien (omitted), Michael Hartley (omitted), Daniel Howe (omitted)
The tallest ever Hawk and he’s a debutant! Welcome Ned Reeves to the seniors after having a few seasons on the list, to give skipper Ben McEvoy a much needed chopout and a chance to audition for the role moving forward.
Greaves comes back into the line-up after being the sub in Round 7 against St.Kilda but didn’t get on the park, but did play three games last year, averaging 6.66 rebounds and 17.33 disposals.
How do the Hawks win?
The Blues have only conceded nine points less than the Hawks in the opening nine matches so the Hawks will have ample opportunity to score. Even though Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones are having good seasons, they continuously get bags kicked on them; Tom McDonald (three), Josh Bruce (five), Cale Hooker (five), Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (four), Jake Stringer (three), Harry Jones (three), Eric Hipwood (three), Charlie Cameron (three), Mitch Georgiades (three), Robbie Gray (three), Jordan De Goey (four) and Jack Riewoldt (four) makes twelve instances of three plus goals, which the Hawks need to take advantage of.
Carlton’s spine of Weitering, Jones, Walsh and McKay have been very good this year but for a side who many ‘experts’ predicted for the eight, the Blues haven’t been great, particularly on the defensive side. The Blues have the worst tackle differential in the league with -8.8 whilst the Hawks rank fifth, with a +2.7 so the Blues will be under pressure consistently and the Hawks should be able to move the ball with freedom.
The Hawks need to be able to (not to sound like a broken record but it’s almost shattered at this point) hit their forwards and at least have some forward structure. Lachie Plowman, Adam Saad, Sam Docherty and Liam Stocker have been struggling in one-on-one contests so Dylan Moore, Jacob Koschitzke, Chad Wingard and James Cousins should be getting pockets of space
As easy as most fans would put ‘lost to North’, the concern here is a lack of bounce back. If there is any positive to take from North getting over the line, is it could be the rocket the group needs moving forward. With thirteen games left before the end of the year, the Hawks have got a lot to stand for and it begins at 1:45pm on Saturday.
The Hawks’ seemingly have one full quarter that they just put on the handbrake and stop completely in their tracks, especially with midfield pressure and with a tempo play style being in effect, the Hawks cannot afford to be afraid to keep attacking. If the midfield are continually piling on the inside 50’s but no score is coming, you can put your hands up but between the arcs, the Hawks are being obliterated. Ranking first for rebound 50’s, the Hawks’ dam wall eventually breaks due to the volume of opposition entries; Hawthorn ranking first for conceding inside 50’s with 59.7, three more than any other side, while ranking last for inside 50’s themselves so their opponents can get it inside 50 with ease, yet it can’t happen the other way.
The Hawks are currently averaging 46 inside 50’s for 19 scoring shots at a percentage of 41.3%. Just for reference, the Bulldogs are the No.1 scoring side in the competition, averaging 48.24% of scores from inside 50’s. It’s on the midfield group to deliver the footy better inside and for the talls to create contests, and the small forwards to create opportunities.
Daz is keeping an eye on: Jaegar O’Meara
After two weeks off due to a groin complaint, O’Meara returned to a lower than his usual form 22 disposal, five tackles and five score involvement game, but also had seven clangers and gave away four free kicks, three being caught holding it.
His first six weeks were All-Australian worthy and with a less than acceptable midfield performance (-20 in clearances and -21 in contested possessions), he will definitely be one that needs to respond.
Smithy is keeping an eye on: Ned Reeves
We love a debut more than anyone and for a bloke who’s been known by Hawks supporters for a while, Reeves and James Cousins had one of the best ruck-midfield dynamics in the VFL last season.
There isn’t a need for wild expectations around his debut but fingers crossed he goes well, competes hard and represents the Hawks in a proud way.