By Daz Knight
We at Talking Hawks want to give Hawthorn fans an experience. Subscribe to Talking Hawks for exclusive fan experiences and get involved in livestreams with Hawthorn players.
Our first glimpse at 2022 from a playing point of view is now behind us, with five new youngsters a part of the fold via the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, who’ve now hit the track at Bunjil Bagora and we can set ourselves for next season.
Fans can now rejoice as with the 2022 season fixture released today, with dates, times and locations confirmed for rounds one to nine.
Whilst in a COVID affected world, nothing is 100% locked in when it comes to footy, we thought it would be fantastic to go over the first two months of the season in detail, as well as some thoughts on matchups later in the year.
With an uneven number of games in correlation to the number of opponents to be faced, who a team plays twice is of the utmost importance when it comes to calculating potential wins.
So who does Hawthorn play twice we hear you cry?
- North Melbourne – Rounds 1 & 19
- St.Kilda – Rounds 4 & 20
- Richmond – Rounds 9 & 22
- Gold Coast – Rounds 11 & 21
- Western Bulldogs – Rounds 15 & 23
Not one of these opponents will worry the Hawks on paper as North Melbourne and Gold Coast both finished below the Hawks in 2021 (although both did beat us in 2021), the Hawks took down the Dogs at UTAS late in 2021 and the Round 23 matchup is set to return to the Apple Isle.
As for Richmond, who can forget the heart stopping draw in the final game of the season last year in the farewell of Shaun Burgoyne, David Astbury and Bachar Houli? To quote the late and great John Kennedy Snr:
“Oh no, no fear”
The Saints were a touch of a letdown in 2021 and the gap between the quality of teams from 9-14 wasn’t big at all throughout the season.
From a pessimistic point of view, if last year’s Grand Finalists beat us and Hawks go 0-2 and we end up 1-1 in every other matchup, there’s a 4-6 start which is already a better prediction than any media would give us credit for.
From a realistic point of view, Gold Coast should not be beating us and neither should North Melbourne, St.Kilda can be 1-1 and whilst it would be a stretch to beat the Tigers and Dogs twice, if we can get a win from the four games against Richmond and the Western Bulldogs, that’s 6-4.
The opening four games of the season are an amazing start from the boys in the brown and gold.
Opening the season against last year’s bottom side is a dream come true for Sam Mitchell’s debut, and whilst we cannot underestimate the Roos for even a moment (we all remember how that went in Tasmania last year), there wouldn’t be a better opponent to face to kick off 2022. Could there be a desire for payback amongst the playing group?
Port Adelaide on the road next up is a beautiful test for a young side to travel together, backs against the wall against a fiery opponent, the Hawks won some games they shouldn’t have (on paper) to end the year so who knows? This may depend on how many youth are blooded early on.
Carlton and St. Kilda are two sides that are similar to the Hawks in the sense that both are in the bottom eight bracket who want to leap up the ladder, but there isn’t a reason why the Hawks aren’t better than a finals flimsy Blues outfit and a one hit wonder in September St. Kilda?
Hawthorn fans lamented a poorer start than what was required, but there is zero reason why the Hawks couldn’t start 2-2 at a bare minimum.
Six Week Exam
From the platform that is (hopefully) set after the initial month, the Hawks are then presented with a month and a half of pure challenge from Rounds 5-10;
- Round 5: Geelong (MCG)
- Round 6: Sydney (UTAS)
- Round 7: Melbourne (MCG)
- Round 8: Essendon (Marvel)
- Round 9: Richmond (MCG)
- Round 10: Brisbane (UTAS)
The obvious advantage here is the Hawks aren’t playing on unfamiliar territory, but five finalists and the last dynasty team is a daunting task, no matter the optimism.
Hawthorn have got their bye in Round 14 and the main interest is in how the group hold up in Round 12 and 13 in the lead up, with Collingwood at the MCG and a trip to Fremantle on the cards.
Apple Isle & ANZAC Day
Hawthorn is back, bigger and better in Tasmania in 2022 and we are here for it. From the fortress during the dynasty years to the amazing fans, Tasmania holds a special place in the hearts for the team and the fans.
Below is the list of opponents we play in Tasmania:
- Round 6: Sydney – ANZAC Day
- Round 10: Brisbane
- Round 19: North Melbourne (Blundstone Arena, Hobart)
- Round 21: Gold Coast
- Round 23: Western Bulldogs
Whilst every Tassie experience is equally special, Round Six against the Swans holds a special place as Launceston will host its second consecutive ANZAC Day game.
With all of the special celebration, recognition, ceremony and blessing that comes with such an occasion, is it too greedy to ask for a contest as good as 2021?
Jacob Koschitzke kicked five for the Hawks, Jaeger had 31 touches and kicked a goal and the Hawks overcame an accurate and dogged Crows side to win by five points.
To ask for a contest with an equal amount of quality is a tough ask, but fans are hungry in 2022, and any chance to beat the Swans is one we are dying to take.
There is only the four times the Hawks leave Victoria and Tasmania in 2022 which seems low but the list is below:
- Round 2: Port Adelaide
- Round 11: Gold Coast (Darwin)
- Round 13: Fremantle
- Round 16: GWS
Four teams, four states and whilst it’s never a complaint to play home games, there isn’t a lot of travel so Hawks fans can pack out when we arrive and drown out the home noise!
Hawthorn were one of the best teams in the competition in the last month, having three wins and a draw so it is only natural that the last month be dissected.
Round 20 presents a very winnable game with St.Kilda at Marvel Stadium, Gold Coast at UTAS in Round 21, Richmond in Round 22 at the MCG and UTAS again with the Western Bulldogs.
Depending on how the preceding nineteen weeks go, Hawthorn could be playing with a potential finals spot or a chance to potentially ruin a team’s season, especially with the Saints, Tigers and Dogs.
According to Champion Data, Hawthorn have the fifth easiest draw using 2021 metrics, winnable ‘double match-ups’, plenty of Victorian and Tasmanian games, as well as a coach addicted to winning and a group with a chip on their shoulders.
Whilst it seems unlikely the beginning of the Hawthorn rebuild are a team who can consistently make finals, no one can complain about finals experience whenever it comes.
Let’s not forget that on average in the AFL era, three teams drop out of the top eight and three come in. Why not us?
Hawthorn’s fixture looks really good from an instinctual standpoint and having an easier draw will do a developmental side a lot of good with their confidence.
What do you think Hawks fans?