A confident Hawthorn side heads west to tackle Fremantle at Subiaco on Saturday night, looking to make it two wins from two games while the Dockers – under new coach Mark Harvey – will want to put paid to media suggestions that they are a bunch of recycled hacks, and chalk up their first win of the season.
The Story So Far
Last week saw the best possible opening to the season for Hawthorn, with a 104-point pasting of a lacklustre Melbourne outfit. Lance “Buddy” Franklin booted six goals and could have had more, while Jarryd Roughead kicked three majors.
Perhaps most encouraging for the Hawks was the debuts of youngsters Cyril Rioli and Cameron Stokes, while Stuart Dew made a successful return fro retirement with a best-on-ground performance.
Meanwhile Fremantle got their season off to a losing start, falling to Collingwood at Telstra Dome by 26 points. The Dockers were in the game for most of the contest, but the Pies broke away from the visitors with a six-goal-to-three last term.
Much has been made in the media about Fremantle’s performance, but the fact is Collingwood is a very good side and there was no shame in their effort. That said, the performance of forwards Matthew Pavlich and Chris Tarrant was below par, with one goal between them.
Last Time They Met
Fremantle 14.12.96 defeated Hawthorn 11.14.80 in round 7, 2007 at Subiaco
Having beaten Essendon the week before and with Franklin coming off a nine-goal haul, the Hawks headed to Perth with every reason to believe it could come home with the points.
Hawthorn led by as much as 27 points in the second quarter and had chances to slam the door shut on a Docker revival, but Franklin couldn’t fire and the Dockers fought back to win thanks to four goals from the relatively unknown Adam Campbell and Adam Sandilands’ dominance in the ruck.
B: McPharlin, Grover, Mundy
HB: Dodd, Michael Johnson, Hayden
C: Palmer, Headland, Peake
HF: Ibbotson, Tarrant, Farmer
F: Mark Johnson, Pavlich, Schammer
FOLL: Sandilands, J.Carr, Bell
I/C: Crowley, Gilmore, Mayne, M.Carr
EMG: Hinkley, Murphy, Campbell
IN: Ibbotson, Palmer, Mayne
OUT: Solomon (suspended), Black (concussion), McManus
NEW: Rhys Palmer, Selection No.7, 2007 AFL National Draft; Chris Mayne, Selection No.40, 2007 AFL National Draft
A bit of flux for Freo after their loss to Collingwood. Two debutants from last year’s draft come into the side in Rhys Palmer and Chris Mayne – both can play in the midfield or a flank. Also in is Garrick Ibbotson, who played one game last year and can work between a flank and midfield.
Dean Solomon is out after being suspended for rough conduct on Shane Wakelin last week, while Heath Black is out with concussion and veteran Shaun McManus has been dropped.
It is interesting that the Dockers have opted for young players with smaller bodies against Hawthorn – the forced absences of Solomon and Black probably would have saved McManus previously, but Harvey looks determined to give some youngsters a taste at home.
The changes will add pace, but will the loss of steel prove costly?
B: Guerra, Gilham, Birchall
HB: Ladson, Brown, Murphy
C: Dew, Mitchell, Bateman
HF: Rioli, Boyle, Young
F: Osborne, Roughead, Franklin
FOLL: Taylor, Sewell, Hodge
I/C: Campbell, Ellis, Stokes, Tuck
EMG: Kennedy, Morton, Thorp
IN: Hodge, Brown
OUT: Croad (wrist), Clarke
Two of the four suspended stars return for Hawthorn this week, with Luke Hodge and Campbell Brown making their way in for the injured Trent Croad and Tim Clarke. Croad has a wrist injury that will see him out for at least a month, while Clarke’s calf strain has seen him rested, though he might have been in the gun regardless.
Brown’s return is timely, as Croad’s loss otherwise would have really stretched the Hawthorn defence. Now, regardless of whether Luke McPharlin plays back or forward, the Hawks have cover.
Mark Williams – who was named last week but, as expected, was a late withdrawal – will miss a few weeks with his chronic knee problems, though given Hawthorn’s spoils in the front half, his loss will not be of huge worry.
For all the talk of how Hawthorn should worry about Fremantle’s forward line, it would be Harvey instead of Alastair Clarkson who’d be rocking up to Subiaco with more headaches about handling the opposition’s forward stocks.
Fresh from bagging six goals last week, Franklin has made a habit of kicking several goals on a bad day. Michael Johnson did well on him last time, and would be expected to go to him again.
Another Hawk with confidence is Jarryd Roughead, who will probably demand the attentions of McPharlin – something that would annoy Harvey, as he’d no doubt rather have the former Hawk up forward to stretch the Hawthorn defence.
This leaves Antoni Grover on the dangerous Tim Boyle (who kicked three goals last outing against the Dockers), Roger Hayden on Cyril Rioli (who will need to watch out for Hayden going the other way) while Steven Dodd and David Mundy will have to look after a combination of Michael Osborne, Stuart Dew, Cameron Stokes and Luke Hodge.
Another possibility is that Osborne could play as a defensive forward on Hadyn, which would see Mundy most likely to take Rioli.
In The Middle
Apart from the ruck, where Aaron Sandilands has a clear advantage over both Simon Taylor and Robert Campbell, Hawthorn looks to have all bases covered in the middle.
Josh Carr will most likely get the job on Mitchell, but a challenge for the hosts will be how to stop the constant run of Chance Bateman and the drive and sheer brilliance of the returning Hodge.
It is difficult to see how any of Carr, Peter Bell, Des Headland, Brett Peake, Byron Schammer, Mark Johnson or first-gamer Palmer have the combination of speed, ball-winning ability and clean disposal to hurt Hawthorn.
Simply, if Carr can shutdown the Hawthorn skipper, Hodge will be moved into the middle and would have the edge over any of his midfield opposition.
The dilemma for the Dockers is whether they focus on trying to shut down the Hawks, or back their blokes to win the ball from what will more often than not be Sandilands’ tap.
Headland is the only real game breaker that Hawthorn will need to keep tabs on, but he is out of form and unlikely to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
This is the kind of game – against a relatively defensive and slow midfield – where Travis Tuck could come in and make an impact through the middle, especially if Hawthorn is on top and wants to send Hodge forward to make the most of it.
The biggest threat for Hawthorn’s defence is clearly Pavlich. Croad would have been the obvious opponent for the big South Australian, but with his injury it will either be Stephen Gilham or Brown with the job.
Most expect Brown, who last season spent many of his games on bigger and stronger opponents but came away with both their scalps and an All Australian spot, to take Pavlich. But with Tarrant a perfect opponent for Brown, and no other obvious opponent for Gilham, it should be the taller Gilham that starts on Pavlich if he lines up deep in attack while Brown minds the out-of-sorts Tarrant.
Why? Pavlich is elite. Brown is an extremely good defender, but against Pavlich it would be better to have someone who is closer to matching him for size. The difference between minding Scott Lucas or Travis Cloke and matching up on a Jonathan Brown or Anthony Rocca is size and power. Pavlich is in the Rocca category, and it’d be unwise – unless McPharlin goes forward – to start Brown on him.
If McPharlin does start forward, Gilham would have to go to him, Brown to Pavlich and youngster Tom Murphy – who did very well on Russell Robertson last week – on Tarrant.
The only other danger forward – with both Adam Campbell and Ryan Murphy emergencies for the hosts – Fremantle has got is Jeff Farmer. Rick Ladson will probably mind him, but Brent Guerra might be another option.
Confidence is quite rightly high among Hawthorn supporters, and why wouldn’t it be? Fresh off a three figure spanking and with two All Australians coming back into the lineup against a side that not only lost last week, but didn’t make the eight last season, Hawthorn should be favourites – even with a flight across the Nullabor.
It’ll take something special from Pavlich, Farmer and a Freo midfield and defence that simply looks outgunned for the Dockers to win.
They can do it. Fremantle are a side that will trouble the better sides (which Hawthorn has to be considered among), and they will be thereabouts in the race for the eight. They are one of the few sides in the competition who have the height to match Hawthorn’s forwards, and an absolute superstar who can win matches in Pavlich.
But Hawthorn should have their measure. As long as the midfield can find enough ball and they can have command of the play on the large Subiaco surface, it is hard to see Hawthorn losing.
Hawthorn by 13 points.