Written by Rhys Knight
[Note: This was written before the big news]
With four rounds to go, the mind wanders back to 2006. The Hawks of then we’re like the Hawks of now, down near the bottom of the ladder, struggling for wins (2006 were 5-13 with four to go and 2021 are 4-13-1) and without a lot of fan optimism.
In 2006, the Hawks went on to win their last four games to finish the year off spectacularly and the squad took off in 2007. In order to finish off the 2021 campaign really strongly, the Hawks have got four good games ahead of them, beginning with a Tasmanian trip against Brisbane.
LAST TIME THEY PLAYED
March 22, 2020, Round 1
Hawks Goals: Wingard, Breust, Burgoyne 3, Hanrahan, Patton, O’Brien, Scully, Smith
Hawks Disposals: Mitchell 25, Shiels 24, O’Meara 23, Wingard 20
Yes, it’s really been 497 days (as of Sunday when we play) since we’ve met the Lions and what a difference that time has made. Thirteen Hawthorn players in that side aren’t playing (Paul Puopolo, Ollie Hanrahan, Jack Gunston, Jonathan Ceglar, Jonathan Patton, Harry Morrison, Shaun Burgoyne, Ricky Henderson, Tom Scully, Isaac Smith, James Sicily, Ben Stratton and James Frawley) so it’s pretty much a fresh side which is exciting.
It’s fair to say that the two teams have gone in different directions since but hopefully the Tasmanian fortress helps, since the MCG (where the last meeting took place) hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Hawks, who have only won two games at the home of football since. Those wins were against Richmond in Round 3, 2020 and GWS four weeks ago.
Cousins was subbed out last week and a midfielder makes the most sense to bring in, which leaves Greaver out we think. The ‘Duke’ would be a welcome addition back as his pressure through the midfield will be key to stopping Lachie Neale, Hugh McCluggage, Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko.
Finn Maginness has been a tagger for Box Hill so could he come in to get a four week tagger assignment? Stand next to Jarryd Lyons and good luck Finn? Potentially… it would be fun to find out.
How the Hawks win
If you look at the Gold Coast and Brisbane scoreline last week, you’d see Brisbane had a comfortable victory but the halftime score was 60-33 in the Suns favour. They were all over the Lions early with ferocious tackling, pressure on the ball carrier, ability to take on the corridor and tall forwards doing some damage (Ben King and Josh Corbett kicked three each).
The week before against Richmond, Jack Riewoldt kicked six and Mabior Chol kicked four so Mitch Lewis, Jacob Koschitzke and Tim O’Brien need to create some headaches for the Brisbane defence, especially with TOB not needed down back as the Lions have a depleted tall forward stock.
The midfield battle will be intense so the ruck battle will be one to watch. Toby Nankervis had 22 disposals, 25 hit-outs, seven clearances, six score involvements, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50’s in a best on ground performance and made Oscar McInerney look second rate, especially with ‘The Big O’ giving away five free kicks, which led to three goals.
Last week, McInerney was one of the best on the park up against little opposition, having 39 hit-outs, an insane twelve clearances, five inside 50’s and four score involvements. With an exciting young ruckman in Ned Reeves and old head in skipper Ben McEvoy, the Hawks should be able to nullify his influence and help the midfield get going.
Much like the Port Adelaide write up, Hawks fans have got to remember that we have a top team we are going up against. The Hawks have got an uphill battle and the Lions are an elite side.
The midfield has been Hawthorn’s kryptonite this season and with Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons, Dayne Zorko, Hugh McCluggage, Brandon Ah Chee and Devon Robertson awaiting, our midfield core will be under the pump.
The Lions rank second for contested possessions, second for clearances and third for contested marks which rings alarm bells for the Hawks. If the boys from Waverley want a fifth win, Tom Mitchell needs more help. Here are the average stats for the Hawks four main midfielders in the last month:
Tom Mitchell: 34.5 disposals, 75.5% efficiency, 6.5 clearances
James Worpel: 24.5 disposals, 60.3% efficiency, 4.5 clearances
Jaeger O’Meara: 20 disposals, 64% efficiency, 5.8 clearances
Liam Shiels: 20 disposals, 66.8% efficiency, 2.5 clearances
Our No.3 needs his teammates to help him look like the elite inside midfielder that he is and they simply aren’t. Lachie Bramble has had some chains with Titch that have looked great but they need to happen more often with more midfielders.
It’s not often that over 30’s have career best years but Daniel Rich is doing just that. The man will be an All-Australian half back flanker with averaging 26 disposals (22 kicks) at 79% efficiency, eight rebound 50’s, five marks, four score involvements and three inside 50’s. The man has a cannon leg and it’ll be on Dylan Moore probably to nullify his damage. The Hawks cannot control his kick ins but can’t let him start attacking chains (see the St.Kilda goal for reference).
Talking Hawks are keeping an eye on: Blake Hardwick
If Damon Greaves doesn’t play as expected, Dimma will get the role on Charlie Cameron, who has kicked 11.10 in the last five games. Dimma will also need to get the footy and begin scoring chains with Jack Scrimshaw and Lachie Bramble as well so how he deals with needing to be an unreal two way player (which he has been in the past) will be an exciting watch.