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The Hawks have won just one of the last ten encounters of 2022 and this is probably the second best opportunity for the rest of the season to get win number five for the year or 1,000th overall.
The Crows themselves have only won three of the last ten games and are in a very similar place list wise.
Marvel Stadium will present the Hawks with better conditions than last week and some very good inclusions are all the better.
Last Time We Played
Round 19, 2021, Marvel Stadium
Hawks – 13.5.83
Crows – 16.6.102
Goals – Mitch Lewis (3), Tom Phillips (2), singles the rest
Disposals – Tom Mitchell, James Worpel (28), Lachie Bramble, Dylan Moore (25), Jaeger O’Meara, Chad Wingard (24)
In’s – Denver Grainger-Barras, Josh Morris, Josh Ward, Finn Maginness, Ben McEvoy
Out’s – James Worpel (shoulder), Will Day (suspension), Jack Gunston (personal), Lachie Bramble (back), Sam Butler (shin)
Welcome back skipper!
Ben McEvoy is back for the first time since Round 2 and is the only Hawk to have a 100% win rate in 2022 so no pressure in the slightest!
A two ruck system, Kositchzke and Nash playing their natural positions and putting pressure on Reilly O’Brien?
Tick, tick, tick.
Josh Ward returns after concussion complications and oozing class with his 26 disposal performance at Box Hill last week and Maginness returns after a good performance also.
Josh Morris will probably play half back and replace the suspended Will Day who misses a week and now that Adelaide (and West Coast next week) have twin tall forwards who can hit the scoreboard, DGB returns to let James Sicily be his intercepting best.
How the Hawks win
The Crows aren’t going that red hot at the moment and although they played Marvel pretty well against the Hawks last time and they nearly got Essendon earlier in the year, their ability to defend the ground when the opposition has the ball has been poor.
The Hawks simply must take territory and get the ball inside 50 (speaking of things we seem to say every week) because the Hawks are scoring when they enter the 50.
Lewis, Kositchzke and McEvoy/Reeves can be a powerful and tall trio that should test the limits of Jordan Butts and company so get the ball inside 50!.
That ruck contest is going to be an interesting one too. Reilly O’Brien was dropped earlier in the year but has responded in fine form, averaging 40.6 hitouts in the last five weeks but two good ruckmen in the Hawks’ arsenal can only be an advantage.
The Crows are conceding goals to small forwards in the past so Luke Breust, Dylan Moore and Connor MacDonald should be licking their lips.
The goals conceded include Ben Ainsworth (3.2) and Izak Rankine (3.2), Gryan Miers (3.0) and Tyson Stengle (3.0) in the last few weeks.
The Crows are also one of the worst teams in the league for defending multiple stoppages in their back 50 so the Hawks need to press further up the ground to suffocate the ball in the forward half.
Instead of the absolute broken record that’s only playing the opening lyrics of the Waverley album (the midfield), the defence is becoming the concern and a massive one.
Post the Geelong game in Round 5, the Hawks are 1-9 and giving up 102.2 points.
For comparison, North Melbourne have lost their last eleven games by more than 47 points each and conceding 115 points per game and West Coast are averaging 119 in the last ten, with no one else conceding 100 a game in that time.
The Crows have got Taylor Walker who has kicked 30 goals in 15 games to be the biggest threat offensively but if the defenders are letting in a big score to the fifth worst scoring team in the league, heads should roll.
Rebounding, intercepting and launching scoring chains are all parts of the Hawks’ arsenal but the Hawks have conceded scores from 58% of opposition forward entries in the last three weeks, including 65% last week in the wet!
With DGB and Blanck rotating through Walker and Darcy Fogarty, James Sicily should be at his best, which is needed given he’s lost some one on one contests in the last fortnight.
The message to Jack Scrimshaw and Changkuoth Jiath needs to be along the lines of “whomever has the footy, the other stays behind in case there is a turnover”.
The midfield is still not going unnoticed; Ben Keays is a fine player and Rory Laird is a star but there isn’t a whole lot of damage that stands out in that mix.
Jai Newcombe will have plenty of chances to get some clearances, which he needs, given he’s only had a total of five in the last three contests.
TH Spotlight – The Scoreboard
Sounds completely obvious but with a really good sign in and good conditions, the W after two hours is the only spotlight that’s necessary.
This has to be a win, it’s as simple as that.
Draft position is unnecessary, this group needs a win more than any potential future youngster and they really should get it done.