Written by Rhys Knight
After one of the more deflating losses of 2021 against Fremantle last week, Hawthorn are faced with the task of a premiership contender in Melbourne on Saturday afternoon. With a projected wet and miserable day, the Hawks are going to need to bring their own sunshine in order to step away with the four points.
Last time they played:
Two: Breust, Hanrahan, O’Brien,
One: McEvoy, Moore
Jaeger O’Meara – 27 disposals, nine clearances, seven marks, six tackles, five inside 50’s, five rebound 50’s
Jarman Impey – 24 disposals, five marks, five rebounds, three tackles
Ollie Hanrahan (Hawks fans MVP) – 14 disposals, six marks, five score involvements, two goals
This game was a fourth quarter meltdown as the Hawks had a chance to take the lead in the last quarter before the Demons ran absolutely riot, kicking 8.4 in the final term.
Jack Scrimshaw (concussion)
Changkuoth Jiath (knee)
Jonathan Ceglar (hip)
Ollie Hanrahan (sub, will most likely be sub again)
Hawks are going tall to compete with the skipper and Ned Reeves doing battle with Max Gawn and Luke Jackson in the ruck, expect Hartigan to take Tom McDonald, Sam Frost to take Ben Brown and Tim O’Brien likely to take the resting ruckman when they go down there.
Fantastic to see Mitch Lewis back who will probably get Steven May for company and needs to lead up at the ball to drag May away from being the third man in. Harrison Petty will probably go to Kosi so Jake Lever will go to Dylan Moore so Moorey and Lewis need to get on their bikes to stop two of the three best key backs in the competition wrecking havoc on our forward 50 entries.
How do the Hawks win?
Like the title suggests, the Hawks can mentally beat Melbourne because the Dees slip up against lesser sides. The argument that the Collingwood win over the Dees was an emotional response to Nathan Buckley’s sacking but if you watch that game back, Collingwood went up the middle of the ground, took on Melbourne’s back six and had damaging entries that led to scores.
Adelaide got over the line in Round 10 by a point and Melbourne played horrifically, with a historically great Clayton Oliver performance almost single-handedly getting the Dees over the line. Statistically, Melbourne dominated Adelaide but Adelaide’s forward 50 entries were damaging and they took their chances, kicking 15.6. Ben McEvoy when going forward needs to go to Steven May who was soundly beaten by Taylor Walker in the second half of the Adelaide game and even if that means Mitch Lewis plays a second ruck role, so be it. May almost has the All-Australian full back blazer in his hands and the skipper has the hands to stop him.
In Round 16, GWS won a genuine scrap against the Dees and did so by letting their high half forwards get up the ground in the first half and race Melbourne back. Toby Greene was excellent doing this by kicking three and there’s no reason Dylan Moore can’t apply the same strategies, especially if he gets the Jake Lever matchup.
The Giants also had their midfield be damaging on the scoreboard against the Demons, with Josh Kelly, Callan Ward, Lachie Whitfield and Tim Taranto all kick a goal so it’s on the Hawks to make themselves dangerous, with Tom Mitchell, James Worpel and Jaeger O’Meara needing to make an impact offensively.
The Hawks defence has been battered from pillar to post in the last fortnight. The lineup in defence without Jack Scrimshaw, Changkuoth Jiath, Blake Hardwick, Jarman Impey and James Sicily is an exciting opportunity to see where some youngsters stand of course but there is a knowledge that this is an undermanned defence. Damon Greaves has struggled early in games against Eddie Betts and Izak Rankine and he probably gets Kosi Pickett and will need to be on his game early.
There is barely any more frightening midfield mix in the competition than a Gawn/Oliver/Petracca/Viney centre bounce and the Hawks being the 15th ranked midfield contested possession team against the second, that’s an issue. However, the clearance battle might be intriguing given the Demons outfit are a measly eleventh (compared to their standing as a top three team in the competition) and although the Hawks have struggled around the clearances, Jaeger won’t be getting tagged like last week and given he and Titch can both at times get plenty of clearances, any momentum out of the middle of the ground is a plus.
Melbourne copped criticism for big spending in the backline and now it’s come to fruition. Jake Lever and Steven May are All-Australian bound, Christian Salem is in scary form and Harrison Petty has been unbelievable since Adam Tomlinson’s ACL injury. The Hawks could have matched Melbourne’s ‘gunslinging’ defensive style but injuries haven’t helped that possibility. However, no excuses here as structure around the ground will be key to stop the Demons taking territory from the back half.
Talking Hawks are keeping an eye on: Jaeger O’Meara
After Caleb Serong kept Jaeger to just 14 touches last week, we here at TH are looking forward to how he responds. If Jaeger plays angry and with a chip on his shoulder, this could be ultra exciting to watch. Averages 22 in his last three against the Demons and we are backing him to top that.