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After the win of the season, the one thing that the Hawks cannot afford to do is be complacent in their rebuild.
The Hawks haven’t won back-to-back games in 2021 and a humid TIO Stadium and a much improved Gold Coast await.
Last Time We Played
Round 11, 2021
Hawks – 11.10.76
Suns – 17.11.113
Goals – Moore (2.2), Mitch Lewis (2.1), Ben McEvoy (2.0)
Disposals – Shiels (27), Wingard (24), Cousins (23), Mitchell (22), Scrimshaw (21), Howe (20), Worpel (20)
Ins – Jack Scrimshaw, Connor MacDonald
Outs – Jaeger O’Meara (hamstring), Max Lynch (concussion)
The biggest news here is who isn’t included; Ned Reeves.
“Noodle” hasn’t been included in the 22 which means a mixture of Conor Nash, Jacob Koschitzke and Mitch Lewis could potentially face the most in form ruckman in the competition; Jarrod Witts.
How the Hawks win
As easy as it would be to say, “just repeat last week”, every opponent is different, all conditions are different and the personnel is different.
With Sam Collins going to Mitch Lewis, it’s up to the smalls to punish the Suns defenders and kick a winning score.
It’s quite a bounty of smalls, with Dylan Moore (16 goals for the season), Sam Butler (two goals last week), Chad Wingard (12 goals from seven games) and Luke Breust (18 in 9 games) can all potentially kick a winning score.
Liam Shiels did a really good job on Lachie Neale last week, keeping him to eleven disposals from the 11th minute mark of the second quarter.
Touk Miller is the next man who needs to be stopped, as his two way running and ability to cover the ground is a real weapon.
Miller’s disposal output for the year has read; 29, 38, 17, 32, 32, 26, 36, 20, 34 and 19 so the Hawks can’t let him get off the leash.
Add in a 7.2 clearance average and it’s a huge task for Pup.
Down back, Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult present a way bigger challenge than first suspected throughout the season.
Both have kicked 20 goals this season, but why this isn’t a concern is between the two of them, they average 15.8 pressure acts between them (ranked below average) so Sam Frost can add himself to the list of players who can take territory.
Keep moving the ball forward, nullify Touk Miller and let the smalls dominate.
There are only three massive concerns that await the Hawks in this game; conditions, Jarrod Witts and mental resilience.
Let’s start with the conditions.
It’s set to be hot and humid at the TIO Stadium, so the Hawks are going to need to play a territory game and not a precise game.
Jarman Impey, Jack Scrimshaw, Changkuoth Jiath, James Sicily, Blake Hardwick and Harry Morrison are all going to want to rebound from the back half but slicing through the Suns is going to difficult with a slippery ball.
The Hawks have been training with footies dipped in dishwashing liquid to combat the slippery nature of the ball, which should suit the likes of Jai Newcombe and Tom Mitchell.
However, the conditions suit the Suns who beat up the Swans around the footy three weeks ago and in the wet against Fremantle, took them apart, before sticking it up to the Dogs as best they could.
The Suns went +15 in contested ball against the Swans and +17 against Fremantle so they play their best football around winning the contest.
Next up; Jarrod Witts.
He’s the All-Australian ruckman at the moment, make no doubt about it.
He’s attended 241 more ruck contests than every ruckman who’s played all ten games, averaging 38 hit-outs, five score involvements, four clearances and four tackles.
His ability to help feed Touk Miller, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, David Swallow, Brayden Fiorini and others around the contest is paramount to the Suns’ success.
What the Hawks need to do without a recognised ruckman is firstly, compete, and secondly, nullify the clearances and stop the Suns from walking the ball out of the stoppage and taking the territory required to create scoring opportunities.
Thirdly; mental resilience.
The Hawks are 0-11 against bottom four sides since 2019 and whilst the Suns aren’t a bottom side, from the high that was Brisbane; they can’t slip this week because they’ll get punished.
It’s up to Sam Mitchell and the experienced players (Mitchell, Sicily, Frost, Breust and Shiels) to ensure the young group don’t drop their heads and allow complacency that will result in a loss and lock the finals door.
TH Spotlight: Cyril Rioli
No player has been as loved as Junior in the last 20 years and seeing as this is the best moment of a reconciliation, our fingers are crossed that the relationship can be in some means of repair.
We hope the legend knows how much the fans love him.