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The Hawks experienced their second dose of heartbreak at the MCG, after a one point loss to Carlton earlier in the year.
Now, the Hawks go to Optus Stadium to take on the red hot Dockers, who sit third on the ladder and are fresh off a fortnight of joy; defeating Melbourne and Brisbane.
The Hawks have got a 3-3 record at Perth Stadium, so the ground holds no fear for the Sam Mitchell led squadron.
Last Time We Played
Round 17, 2021, UTAS
Hawks – 6.10.46
Dockers – 16.12.108
Goals – Jeka (2.0), Koschitzke (2.0)
Disposals – Mitchell (39), Bramble (27), Shiels (22), Greaves (20)
It was truly a disaster at UTAS last year, with the Hawks making Rory Lobb look like a champion and getting comprehensively beaten in the midfield.
Whilst many media pundits would predict a similar result, there’s something about these young Hawks.
Ins – Sam Frost, Jack Scrimshaw, Jackson Callow
Outs – Connor MacDonald (omitted), Jack Gunston (ankle), Jarman Impey (managed), Mitch Lewis (knee)
Connor MacDonald sees himself out of the side for the trip across the Nullarbor and it will be interesting to see if he lines up with James Worpel and Finn Maginness for Box Hill or if it’s a “footy cleanse” weekend for the second round pick in last year’s draft.
Gunston hurt his ankle last week and there were positive scans, seeing him miss between 2-4 weeks, instead of the 6-8 as was initially feared.
Impey’s workload was talked about being managed throughout the year and the biggest trip in footy is a logical leap to being managed, even off his 20 disposal performance last week.
Lastly, the biggest change is leading goal-kicker and biggest priority to re-sign, Mitch Lewis.
The man with a top six goal average per game would’ve caused an issue or two for Alex Pearce and Brennan Cox but it isn’t to be.
Coming in, Jack Scrimshaw returns to drive from the back half and potentially push up onto a wing, whereas Sam Frost and Jackson Callow are recalled, to provide size and an aerial presence at either end of the ground.
How the Hawks win
The Hawks have got to take their chances, as simple as that.
Connor MacDonald and Chad Wingard had chances late in the piece to put the Hawks ahead and couldn’t get it done, leaving the Hawks stranded on 10.8 and four points in arrears.
The positive is, the Hawks are No.2 for goal scoring accuracy so when the ball is in the forward half, scores are being generated.
The Hawks have scored more points than Fremantle (999-973) so if the opportunities are presenting themselves, the Hawks have got the firepower to get the job done.
The Hawks won the clearance battle on the weekend, which was really encouraging and what was more so, the tackle count of 81.
The weather reports show rain, rain and more rain, which is a double advantage to the Hawks.
The “dish soap” training will come in handy, with Tom Mitchell and Jai Newcombe the main benefactors as the clearance kings.
Newcombe’s third quarter was simply stunning last week, with seven disposals, five tackles, three clearances and 71% disposal efficiency.
The second advantage is that Fremantle are like a cricket pitch at the moment; inoperable in the rain.
Gold Coast took Fremantle apart in Round 9 in the rain, by out-contesting them by 17, being +16 in clearances and defended so strongly (Fremantle had 65 inside 50’s for 33 points).
The next week, Collingwood were welcomed to a slippery Optus Stadium and left with a six goal win, thanks to a different modus operandi; pressure.
Collingwood laid 89 tackles and made Freo cough the ball up, delivering 60 inside 50’s for twenty scoring shots.
Are the Hawks better at that pressure, or that contested ball? Pressure for sure but go all the way into it and they’ll need to suffocate the Dockers, for all four quarters.
This is the second best team in the competition, after all.
In the last fortnight, they’ve taken their two biggest rivals; Melbourne and Brisbane.
In the Melbourne game, the Dockers set up behind the ball magnificently (Chapman, Ryan, Cox and Young had a combined 50 marks) and just didn’t allow Melbourne to get the ball in their front third.
In the Brisbane clash at home, the Dockers midfield picked apart the likes of Lachie Neale, Hugh McCluggage, Jarryd Lyons, Zac Bailey and Cam Rayner by having a +11 clearance differential.
The Hawks midfield (yet again) are the concern, as Andrew Brayshaw is a top six Brownlow contender, Will Brodie is the recruit of the year, David Mundy is still a star, Caleb Serong is a star and the role players in James Aish and Blake Acres have been really good.
Oh, and they also welcome back Nat Fyfe. Yep.
If the Dockers are allowed time inside 50, they’ll take the game away from the Hawks very early.
The Hawks themselves can’t seem to get the ball inside 50, ranking 16th and averaging just 46 per game.
They also are the only team (including North and West Coast) who have not won an inside 50 count, for the entire season.
Sometimes, a simple game needs a simple answer; keep the ball out of Freo’s hands and hunt the ball carrier when it is in their hands.
TH Spotlight: Jacob Koschitzke
All the talk this week has been Mitch Lewis’ contract and performance but it’s the other forward who’s under the spotlight.
Kosi’s been played largely out of position in every game he’s played this year and looks bereft of confidence by just a touch and with no Lewis or Gunston, he could be his real self.