The Preview | Round 11 v Suns : One ‘til the bye, do the Hawks go out on a high?

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Written by Rhys Knight & Jake Smith

This may have been the weirdest week in Hawthorn history, including the unbelievable 2020 season. From a disappointing but humble effort against Carlton, to the report of Jaeger’s concussion, fan video of Kyle Hartigan whacking Sam Walsh and getting himself a three-week holiday, to the COVID-19 crisis attacking Melbourne, the Gold Coast game being postponed and within 24 hours, having the game at the SCG, Hawthorn fans can now take a breath and look at the last game before the bye and the mid-point of 2021.

Team Changes:

IN’S: Liam Shiels, Shaun Burgoyne, Josh Morris 

OUT’S: Jaeger O’Meara (concussion), Kyle Hartigan (suspension), Ollie Hanrahan (omitted)

How can the Hawks win?

It is a touch difficult to outwardly come out and say that the Hawks are outright in a great position to have a win due to the 2-8 score-line that reads as they sit second last but the Hawks are coming up against a team that went from one of the best fortnights of the year in defeating Sydney and Collingwood, to one of the worst with a bad loss from the Suns in the Q Clash with Brisbane and a loss to Geelong last week.

The Hawks won the clearances and the contested ball against the Blues after being humbled the week before against North which was a positive and with rain expected, taking territory will be imperative.

The Hawks got some quality games from their quality players last week with Tom Mitchell, James Worpel, Harry Morrison, Blake Hardwick and new boy Ned Reeves were fantastic and what is required for the group to come together and put together a very strong contest.

The Hawks outrank the Suns in contested marks and they will be like gold in this match, with the Suns being a good team in regards of shots on goal from set shots. Up forward, whilst who will play on Ben King is an issue, Damon Greaves will get the job on Izak Rankine like he did on Eddie Betts and if he can do as amazing a job as he did on the Carlton (and Adelaide) superstar, the Hawks have absolutely shut down a Suns offensive threat.

With Jaeger O’Meara out of the side with concussion, this will again be time for the Hawks’ midfield to step up. James Cousins did a wonderful job on Sam Walsh post halfway through the second quarter so does he go to Touk Miller who on the outside has had an extremely good season? Does he roam free as a pure midfield role? With a firm belief that he can do both, Clarko has an opportunity to be versatile with him which is fantastic.

Whilst the forward line hasn’t performed up to the standard that fans expect, the Hawks did score from 37% of their entries – which was down on their 41.7% average – on the weekend, but that was increased to 52% across the second and third quarters, when the Hawks had control. Jacob Koschitzke and Dylan Moore especially were leading up at the ball well on Saturday and the forward group need to be doing it more, especially at the SCG, where the Hawks’ forward group will be exposed if they stay at home the whole time. 


The Suns will need some respect on their name, given they have won an extra game but the percentage differential of 12.1 is one of concern. The Suns’ average winning margin is 41 points against the Hawks’ two and the Suns’ losing margin has been 32 points in their seven losses in 2021, while the Hawks’ average losing margin is 34. 

Hugh Greenwood and Touk Miller are having underrated seasons and are needing to have minimal impacts. Hugh Greenwood is leading the competition for tackles, is averaging seven clearances (more than any Hawk) and 14 contested possessions, which are elite numbers. On the other side, Miller is averaging 29 disposals (eleven contested), seven tackles, four clearances, four inside 50’s and six score involvements. Add in young gun Noah Anderson, aging veteran David Swallow and Brandon Ellis on a wing, the Hawks will have a battle between the arcs for sure. 

If the expected rain doesn’t come (circa the Fremantle game) the Suns will be breathing a sigh of relief, given when they’ve played in the dew or the wet (Brisbane, Carlton), they’ve been deplorable at times but when it’s dry, they’ve looked like a different side. Sydney, North Melbourne and Collingwood felt their wrath as a fast, pressure first side who used Ben King and Josh Corbett as their pillars and let the smalls strut their stuff. Don’t forget either, if Matt Rowell doesn’t go down against the Eagles in Round 1, they probably would have won that game too.

Lastly, the Ben King assignment. Whilst brother Max has garnered headlines, Ben has kicked 28.13 from his ten outings and has been a headache. Standing at two metres tall with vice-like hands and a good kicking action, Kyle Hartigan seemed the logical choice but with his three-week suspension, it will be up to Sam Frost mostly, who ranks No.1 in the competition for winning percentage in one-on-one contests.

Daz is keeping an eye on: James Worpel 

No Jaeger in the side so we can expect the ‘Worpedo’ to go to another level. His publicized form without O’Meara and Mitchell will linger but at the end of the day, his third quarter (13 disposals, five clearances) was elite, even with Titch and Jaeger fit at that stage. Wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he has 27 touches, half a dozen clearances and kicks a goal.

Smithy is keeping an eye on: Jacob Koschitzke

Had a moment he would rather forget but for a young player, he’s creating moments and it’s only a matter of time before those moments become consistent domination; this kid is going to be fantastic. He’s leading at the ball carrier more and especially with confidence, it’s only a matter of time before he’s kicking bigger hauls. His defensive pressure too is unbelievable.  

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