Rnd 3 Preview: Rhythm and Blues

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When the fixture was announced, it’s fair to say Hawthorn fans couldn’t have imagined that after a fortnight, the Hawks would be first on the ladder, with the best points differential and knocking off a two time preliminary finalist in their own backyard. 

Yet, here we are. 

The Blues are also the hottest team in the league, having broken a decade long losing streak over the Tigers and then dismantling the Bulldogs for two and a half quarters last Thursday. 

Quite the challenge ahead. 

Last Time We Played

Hawks – 9.9.63 

Blues 13.8.86 

After trailing by just three points at half time, the Hawks conceded four goals and kicked just 1.3 themselves as the Blues got out to their match winning lead. 

Disposals:

  • Tom Mitchell (44) 
  • Jarman Impey (24) 
  • Jack Scrimshaw (24) 
  • James Worpel (24) 

Goals:

  • Luke Breust (3.0) 
  • Harry Morrison (2.0)
  • Jacob Koschitzke (1.2) 
Tom Mitchell of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the round 18 AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Hawthorn Hawks at Etihad Stadium on July...
Tom Mitchell had 44 in the last Blues encounter – Getty Images

Team News: 

Squad announced on 6:25pm, 31st March, 2022 

IN – Will Day, Jacob Koschitzke, Daniel Howe, Ned Long 

OUT – Tom Phillips (medical sub) 

The great news is the Hawks welcome back Pick 13 from the 2019 Draft in Will Day for his first game of 2022. 

The talented youngster might be used as the substitute in his first game back to see where he is at, but Day will be a Hawk to watch for certain. 

How the Hawks win

One word: defence. 

Sounds easy in hindsight of course, however the Hawks generated seven goals from defensive 50 against the Power last week.

Now given the fact Carlton’s talls aren’t renowned for their defensive pressure (as evidenced by Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay in a combined 16 quarters of footy totalling seven tackles for 2022), the Hawks can be confident that once they get the ball back, exiting the back 50 shouldn’t be too difficult. 

From there, exploiting the stand rule is key as the overlap run by Sicily, Scrimshaw, Jiath, Day, Hardwick, Ward, Worpel and Newcombe has been ultra effective to start the season.

Isolating our forwards inside 50 is also key.

Late in 2021, Mitch Lewis and Jacob Koschitzke consistently flew for the same ball inside 50, but the balance of Lewis and Jack Gunston has been incredible to start the year. 

Their 18 marks inside 50 so far combined is an elite start, but  the midfielders and defensive units must continue to ensure the quick ball movement, precise use and intentional kicking it to advantage when there’s a matchup to exploit. 

Carlton will be missing Oscar McDonald and Mitch McGovern so the forwards will be licking their lips. 

Concerns

How many times can we say “the midfield”? 

Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh, Adam Cerra, George Hewett and Matt Kennedy are one of the deepest and best midfield cores in the league, and if the Hawks let them have their way, the trouble begins. 

The pressure is going to be high, as even a casual glance can see the Blues were able to expose Richmond and the Western Bulldogs by drawing their midfielders to the contest and then find the spare midfielder at the front of the stoppage, in order to get to 60 metres out and deliver inside 50.

Former Hawk Marc Pittonet is going to be a threat all day, as his hit-outs to advantage have been extremely beneficial to the Blues.

It’s essential the Hawks do not give the Blues midfielders any space once the ruckman makes contact. 

The key forwards for the Blues are also going to present a problem.

Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow combined for nine goals against the Dogs, and if the Hawks can’t contain them, they’re in big trouble. 

Add in Tom De Koning and Jack Silvagni and the product is a forward line that’s dangerous in the air and on the ground, with Corey Durdin and Matthew Owies being crafty around goals. 

Josh Ward of the Hawks kicks a goal during the 2022 AFL Round 02 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Hawthorn Hawks at Adelaide Oval on...
Josh Ward kicks his maiden major vs Port – Getty Images

TH Spotlight: Josh Ward 

Seeing Matt Rowell run with Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca in the second half of the Suns and Demons game last week, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Hawks No.7 Pick take a lot out of seeing Sam Walsh live. 

Both are elite two way runners and Walsh is on a path that Ward can absolutely go down. 

Ward had 20 disposals and kicked 1.1 last week in an improved performance in Round 1 and we are backing him to take another step on Sunday afternoon. 

Check the In-depth Game Preview Round 3 Blues v Hawks

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