Where: Etihad Stadium
When: Saturday March 10th, 5:40pm AEST
Coverage: TV – Fox Footy live, Radio – 3aw & SEN live.
Shower or two clearing.
The Saturday twilight game sees Hawthorn playing Melbourne for a chance to make the NAB Cup Grand Final.
With an extremely healthy percentage courtesy of a full game against GWS, Hawthorn need to win this match and hope either Adelaide lose to Collingwood, or West Coast lose to St. Kilda in order to gain entry into the final.
The Hawks will go in with a reasonably strong outfit, however, they will be missing Jarryd Roughead, Josh Gibson, Michael Osborne, Xavier Ellis, Shaun Burgoyne and Brent Guerra.
For Melbourne, this is an opportunity to back up last week’s impressive win over Collingwood with another hit-out against a top four team, and no doubt build some much needed confidence down at Demon land.
Jack Trengove makes his debut as captain, and Brent Moloney, Mitch Clarke, Jared Rivers and Clint Bartram are amongst those returning for the Dees.
What the Hawks want to see:
To win or not to win, that is the question. A win tonight could see Hawthorn playing inter-state next week, with four full quarters, at a time suitable to the AFL.
A loss however, will provide Alastair Clarkson with the opportunity to schedule an inter-club practice match, with the time, place, and duration that best suits the preparation of his men.
Lance Franklin has been given opportunities to play through the middle so far in the NAB Cup, yet will likely play close to a full game as a forward on James Frawley.
Frawley presents Franklin with his first chance this campaign to fine tune his forward game against a quality defender, with promising recruit Jack Gunston another option for the Hawthorn midfielders to look for.
What the Demons want to see:
It’s only early days, yet Melbourne have thus far lifted their contested footy statistics through the roof when compared to last year. Granted, week one was played in monsoonal conditions on the Gold Coast, however in perfect conditions against Collingwood last week, the trend continued.
Melbourne’s inability to fight was appalling at times in 2011, and the inside word is that Mark Neeld will have Melbourne playing a contested brand of footy when the season proper begins. With contested footy kings Brad Sewell, Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell all returning after a week off, the midfield battle should provide us with a hint as to how far Melbourne have progressed in this area over summer.
With at least one position still available on the senior list this year, another impressive game from midfield rookie James Magner will almost certainly see him secure this spot.
VFL recruit Magner has already shown himself to be an intelligent footballer who knows how to find plenty of the ball and the Demons fans would love to see him with another high possession performance.
A difficult game to call, however Hawthorn will field the stronger side overall. Expect them to lead early, however if the game is close in the last quarter, do not be surprised if Clarkson benches a few big names in order to stay in Melbourne the following weekend.
Melbourne by 7 points.
2. Nathan Jones, 3. Clint Bartram, 4. Jack Watts, 6. Matthew Bate, 7. Jamie Bennell, 8. James Frawley, 9. Jack Trengove, 11. Mitch Clark, 12. Colin Sylvia, 13. Jordie McKenzie, 14. Lynden Dunn, 15. Ricky Petterd, 20. Colin Garland, 22. Brent Moloney, 25. Tom McDonald, 26. Daniel Nicholson, 27. Jared Rivers, 30. James Sellar, 34. Stefan Martin, 36. Aaron Davey, 38. Jeremy Howe, 40. Mark Jamar, 41. Troy Davis, 44. Rohan Bail, 46. Josh Tynan, 47. Tom Couch, 48. Jack Fitzpatrick, 49. James Magner
3. Jordan Lewis, 4. Matt Suckling, 5. Sam Mitchell, 10. Chance Bateman, 11. Clinton Young, 12. Brad Sewell, 13. Kyle Cheney, 14. Grant Birchall, 15. Luke Hodge, 16. Isaac Smith, 17. Cameron Bruce, 19. Jack Gunston, 20. David Hale, 21. Shane Savage, 22. Luke Breust, 23. Lance Franklin, 24. Ben Stratton, 25. Ryan Schoenmakers, 26. Liam Shiels, 28. Paul Puopolo, 29. Tom Murphy, 30. Luke Lowden, 31. Jarrad Boumann, 32. Bradley Hill, 33. Cyril Rioli, 34. Jordan Kelly, 37. Brendan Whitecross, 38. Mitch Hallahan, 39. Max Bailey