Written by Rhys Knight
From Giants Stadium to the MCG, the Hawks get a seemingly ‘easier’ task when taking on GWS, on home turf. However, the Hawks’ home turf hasn’t been a happy hunting ground, given the Hawks haven’t won at the G since they beat Richmond, on the 18th of June last season, 374 days ago. Since then; a 29 point loss to Richmond, a five point loss to Geelong, a 50 point loss to Melbourne, a 38 point loss to West Coast and a 23 point loss to Carlton. On the ‘plus’ side, Hawthorn haven’t won at Spotless Stadium before against the Giants so the Hawks will take what they can get.
Shaun Burgoyne (sub)
Jarman Impey went for a spoil at training and has injured his ankle, with fears that there’s a break so fingers crossed he recovers as best he can.
Worpel returns after his one week suspension to add some grunt to that midfield at the expense of Cousins and Kyle Hartigan is back from his three week suspension. Hartigan is the likely matchup for Harry Himmelberg, as they’re both strong and powerful which is the type of opponent Hartigan has beaten this year.
Also, good luck to the No.6 pick in the 2020 Draft, Denver Grainger-Barras, who makes his debut on Sunday and if you want to learn more about the ‘next Jeremy McGovern’, we at Talking Hawks have got a piece on him so in this segment, we wish him all the very best.
How the Hawks win
The Hawks were smacked around the midfield against the Bombers, with a -19 contested possession count and a -13 clearance count but they adopted their own style by having a player behind the ball, free to repel from the back half. Jarman Impey, Jack Scrimshaw and Blake Hardwick were the key candidates for that role and they all combined for 1,135 metres gained which is a huge tick.
This will be a territory game without a doubt and the Hawks might adopt a spare down back for a second week in a row and concede clearances. Don’t forget, after quarter time last week, the Hawks had 19 scoring shots to 16 but kicked poorly. Clarko would’ve looked like a genius if the Hawks had’ve kicked straight but we can look ahead and because GWS struggle to get the ball back (sixth least amount of clangers conceded against them for the season), the Hawks will be able to dictate the pace.
When Brisbane defeated the Giants in Round 11, they went at a frighteningly quick pace in their ball movement and took the Giants apart. The Hawks will need to take their chances though, just like Brisbane did, because the stats didn’t reflect a 64 point win.
The Lions went -4 in contested ball, +3 in uncontested ball, even in contested marks, -7 in clearances and -7 in tackles so how did they win? +13 in inside 50’s and putting the Giants defence under an immense amount of pressure, taking 15 marks inside 50 to the Giants four so the Hawks will need to control the tempo of the contest but put the Giants defence under pressure.
The Giants looked to have found their groove last Saturday against Carlton, recording a six goal win on the back of a nine goal partnership from Jeremy Finlayson and Toby Greene, two players the Hawks will need to keep an eye on. A Blake Hardwick vs Toby Greene matchup is a tantalising one but a hybrid forward/midfielder bullied the Hawks last week and Greene is a better version of Jake Stringer so they need to be on high alert.
If the Hawks do employ a spare at the back of each stoppage, the midfield will be under more duress than last week. Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish were averaging 31 disposals each coming in and only had 27 and 24 respectively. However, with a nucleus of Josh Kelly, Tim Taranto, Callan Ward, Jacob Hopper, Harry Perryman and Matt De Boer, there is a case to be made the Hawks need to try and get them at the contest.
Both teams have criminally underrated rebounding defender cores, which will be wonderful to watch and as much as Hawks fans know and love the ability of Blake Hardwick, CJ, Will Day and Jack Scrimshaw, the Hawks forwards allowed Nick Hind to have a career game of 25 disposals (18 kicks) and a game high 745 metres gained.
The Giants have got Nick Haynes who’s played very well against the Hawks in the past, new boy Jack Buckley can dash, Lachie Ash was the sub on the weekend but is a young gun, Connor Idun is coming along and Isaac Cumming is becoming more elite by the game. Hawthorn are a bottom four attacking half pressure team in the competition and the Giants could carve up the Hawks from the back half, much like the Hawks will want to do to them.
Talking Hawks are keeping an eye on: Tom Mitchell
Since the bye, Titch has had a 34 disposal, seven tackle and one goal performance against the Swans and a 36 disposal, eight tackle, six clearance and ten score involvement showing against the Dons and Talking Hawks are backing him in to have another fantastic performance. Since Jai Newcombe has taken some grunt work off him in the middle, Titch has been able to hit the scoreboard as well which is a huge plus.