WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday May 5, 7.40pm
LAST TIME: Hawthorn 14.15 (99) d St Kilda 10.9 (69), round eight, 2011 at the MCG
Five rounds in and few would have had St Kilda in the top 8 and Hawthorn out of it. As a result this game holds a lot more importance to it than one previously would have thought.
Hawthorn is coming off a second-half fade-out against the surprise package that is the Swans.
Their performances over the last two weeks have not been befitting of those of a premiership favourite; this was most likely the topic of the players’ midweek meeting.
St Kilda on the other hand will be quite content with their season so far. Despite having an easy start to the season, the Saints have done what has been needed and could even be disappointed with themselves for not being 5-0.
However, now they begin to face the better teams and they have to step up if they want to be competitive.
The Saints have made only one change, dropping Dean Polo and introducing some youth in the form of Arryn Siposs.
Siposs will have to adjust immediately if St Kilda wants to challenge. The Saints will hopefully learn from last week’s mistake and keep Beau Wilkes on this week. Wilkes was impressive and could be handy with Hawthorn’s changes.
Hawthorn have made three changes this round, the most significant is the inclusion of Grant Birchall who was in good form before getting injured.
Conversely, a huge out is Josh Gibson who absent with injury. This will hurt the Hawks as the Saints have some height that Gibson would have worked well off. Isaac Smith is another good inclusion who showed lots of promise last year.
Jordan Lewis v Clinton Jones
Lewis could be a likely target for Jones this week. Lewis has been close to the Hawks’ best this season, contributing not only in the midfield but up forward as well – he is currently the Hawks second highest goal kicker.
The Saints may see him as the right match-up for Jones as if he can nullify Lewis, that is one less contributor to the scoreboard for Hawthorn.
Sam Fisher v Lance Franklin
The Swans showed last week how much easier it is to win if Buddy is kept quiet. Fisher is just one option for St Kilda, but he is a viable one.
If Fisher can subdue Franklin’s influence and create some drive, the Saints will have a huge advantage. However, Franklin rarely has two bad games in a row and is due a big haul.
Ben McEvoy v David Hale
If the Saints are to have any chance in this game they need to win the midfield battle and this begins with the rucks. While neither McEvoy nor Hale has set the world on fire with their ruck work, if either can stop the other from putting it down their midfield’s throats it will be a huge step to a win.
Hawthorn’s midfield has not been at its peak lately and last thing they want is to get second hands to the ball.
Although the Saints are higher on the ladder they certainly will not be going into this game as favourites. St Kilda still rely on their old hands to get the job done.
Hawthorn’s start has not been optimal but this game offers them the perfect opportunity to start again. The Hawks have the talent and should outclass St Kilda, even if they are slightly off the boil.
Hawthorn by 27
B: Jason Gram, Sam Gilbert, Jason Blake
HB: Tom Simpkin, Sam Fisher, Sean Dempster
C: Nick Dal Santo, Lenny Hayes, Brendon Goddard
HF: Jack Steven, Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna
F: Stephen Milne, Rhys Stanley, Arryn Siposs
Foll: Ben McEvoy, David Armitage, Clinton Jones
I/C: Jarryn Geary, Jamie Cripps, Terry Milera, Beau Wilkes
Emg: Justin Koschitzke, Dean Polo, Ahmed Saad
In: Arryn Siposs
Out: Dean Polo
B: Benjamin Stratton, Jarrad Boumann, Brent Guerra
HB: Grant Birchall, Ryan Schoenmakers, Luke Hodge
C: Liam Shiels, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis
HF: Michael Osborne, Lance Franklin, Shane Savage
F: Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust
Foll: David Hale, Shaun Burgoyne, Brad Sewell
I/C: Brendan Whitecross, Matt Suckling, Isaac Smith, Paul Puopolo
Emg: Kyle Cheney, Jack Gunston, Broc McCauley
In: Grant Birchall, Isaac Smith, Jarrad Boumann
Out: Josh Gibson, Kyle Cheney, Broc McCauley
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