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From a quietly confident off-season to a strong 20 point win in Round 1 and followed by an amazing AFL 360 appearance, the Sam Mitchell era has truly begun in a fruitful way.
However, from a bottom placed North Melbourne to a back to back preliminary finalist interstate is a more daunting task, but not an impossible one by any stretch.
Last Time We Played:
Hawthorn – 7.11.53
Port Adelaide – 13.9.87
Shaun Burgoyne’s 400th game wasn’t the performance any Hawks fan would’ve asked for with a trouncing at Marvel Stadium.
Tom Mitchell – 29
James Worpel – 23
Blake Hardwick – 22
Luke Breust – 2.0
Jaeger O’Meara – 1.3
IN: Luke Breust, Ben McEvoy
OUT: Max Lynch (concussion), Liam Shiels (managed)
Straight off the bat, the skipper for Lynch just works positionally but Breust for Shiels is wonderful.
Not in a Shiels hate way but with Josh Ward and Connor MacDonald having positive debuts, the young players getting another gig is a great thing as these two fine young men are a part of the next premiership tilt so the exposure is a great thing.
Jacob Koschitzke is cover for Lewis and Gunston as an emergency, 2021 Rookie Draft selection Ned Long, last week’s sub Tom Phillips and Dan Howe are the emergencies.
Howe as the sub makes the most sense as he showed his prowess down back and on a wing late last year, plus Howe can kick a goal if a forward goes down.
How do the Hawks win?
Hawthorn’s defence is clearly the strong suit with Changkuoth Jiath, James Sicily and Jack Scrimshaw outstanding on the weekend.
However, all eyes are on the key backs with Harris Andrews, Darcy Gardiner and Brandon Starcevich who kept the Power talls invisible.
Mitch Georgiades, Todd Marshall and former Giant Jeremy Finlayson had just 22 disposals between them and just eight marks.
With no Charlie Dixon, Port don’t look strong in the air at all so the challenge is to Sam Frost (should go to Georgiades), James Sicily (should go to Finlayson) and Denver Grainger-Barras (should go to Marshall) to patrol the skies.
The other eye should be on the Hawks’ delivery inside 50.
Port conceded a dozen marks inside 50 to Brisbane with Joe Daniher taking three of them, but the Lions were able to make leads at their midfielders to deliver inside 50 and bring their talls away from the goal square.
Jack Gunston, Dylan Moore and the returning Luke Breust need to be creating space for Mitch Lewis and Ben McEvoy to go one out when necessary to create scores.
Ned Reeves was a star on the weekend, with just under a 50% hitout win percentage. He’ll need to do well on Scott Lycett.
With no Max Lynch and Ben McEvoy not set to have many CBA’s, his endurance will be tested and with Ollie Wines, Travis Boak, Zak Butters, Karl Amon and Dan Houston around the taps, we need priority access.
Port are a two time preliminary finalist after all, so on paper the Hawks are outsiders, but it’s on the outside and the inside where this could slip away.
Stand-in captain Jaeger O’Meara had one of his quietest games at the Hawks with 15 touches and 66% disposal efficiency but with five clearances and five score involvements, he showed with a higher volume, he can rip this game apart.
James Worpel also didn’t start the way he would’ve wanted to with a dozen touches but he used the ball well and had three clearances. Both of these boys will need to get around the ball to help lessen the quality of touches the Port midfield can have.
TH Spotlight: James Sicily
We absolutely nailed our spotlight last week with Jack Gunston as Jack took the Roos apart with his 3.4, but another returned Hawk takes the mantle in Round 2.
This week AFL.com.au reported Sicily is after a five year deal, and whilst every fan knows he can deliver, beating Port out the back will be key and Sicily’s elite ball use will be front and centre.
Sicily started the season with 27 touches, six marks and five rebounds whilst not using the ball perfectly.
All the rust has been eliminated and we predict a borderline BOG performance.