WHERE AND WHEN: Aurora Stadium, Saturday June 2, 2.10pm
LAST TIME: Hawthorn 15.13 (103) d North Melbourne 13.8 (86), round 20, 2011 at Aurora Stadium
Expectation has arguably done the Hawks in. Placed in many pre-season markets, to even as late last weekend as the favorites for the flag. It’s apparent something has gone south for them since the start of the season; and that hunger that they promised to bring after their 2011 preliminary final exit has obviously failed to rear it’s head. One more ugly loss for the men from the Eastern Suburbs could see the pressure move from the players to the coach.
Similarly, the boys from Arden Street look to go off the boil when the heat is on in the kitchen. Second half fade-outs and a general lack of intensity have looked to seriously impact upon their expectations of finals berth for the first time in four years. Dropping valuable points against the Dogs and Power, North Melbourne must strike now or look to be two games out of the 8 going into their bye.
WHY SHOULD YOU TUNE IN?
After last weeks debacle, everyone was quick to yell, scream and point fingers who was to blame. Hawthorn have one issue; even before they look at structures or Lance Franklin’s issues around goal: they’re not winning the ball out of the midfield when it counts. Hawthorn were smashed in the contested possessions and clearances last week; just like the Sydney game as when the ball was up for grabs, the Hawks engine room failed.
Many have called the Hawks “soft”, but to call players the caliber of Brad Sewell, Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell “soft” is unfair. Hawthorn just haven’t had the intensity and have second guessed a little when going to win the ball. This could be due to the fact that there’s not a lot of bursting speed in that group; and that there’s a chance they’re more worried about their faster opponents breaking away at the stoppage.
Richmond troubled them last week for speed, so considering North Melbourne’s midfield is similar bar Daniel Wells, Kieran Harper and Brent Harvey; they should find this easier to combat.
Lance Franklin has had issues with kicking for goal. Nothing to do with his action or whether he has mental demons; the fact remains he’s never down forward. The structure Hawthorn are still employing is a little outdated. Franklin is a supreme talent, and I believe he and Roughead are wasted when pushed up the ground to form a that short-chipping, rolling zone.
Buddy needs to be put in a dangerous space, considering North Melbourne’s questionable defense, he remains the key. Franklin has kicked 31 goals in his 10 games against the Roos, and can look to add to his tally on the weekend.
Hamish McIntosh’s injury continues to be a blessing in disguise. Todd Goldstein when given over 80% of game time in the ruck, seems to flourish. His 28 disposal game last week against the lines was him back to his 2011 best. His form and lack of dominance around stoppages may have contributed to North Melbourne’s poor clearance record; which they’ve amended in the last two weeks. Their attack on the ball has improved, and it will be the deciding factor in this game. North Melbourne’s outside players in Wells, Harper, Harvey, Shaun Atley and Jamie Macmillan must cut through Hawthorn’s zone using dare and pace.
Drew Petrie is a man who is working his way back into form. eight goals in the last two weeks has seen him starting to build up a head of steam, but is constantly held back by efforts by extra defenders and midfielders. Brad Scott must push him up to Center Half Forward to give him and his side more of a chance of finding an easier route to goal.
With Aaron Black and Aaron Edwards more likely to work in more room and get one on one with their direct opponents will give North the best chance of knocking off a susceptible Hawthorn defense.
North Melbourne’s fade-out’s are too concerning to back them with any confidence. Hawthorn’s top end talent will prove too much in the end and will get them over the line in a classic 8 point game down at Aurora.
Hawks by 16.
B: Brent Guerra, Josh Gibson, Shaun Burgoyne
HB: Grant Birchall, Ryan Schoenmakers, Benjamin Stratton
C: Jordan Lewis, Sam Mitchell, Clinton Young
HF: Isaac Smith, Lance Franklin, Shane Savage
F: Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, Brendan Whitecross
Foll: David Hale, Brad Sewell, Liam Shiels
I/C: Luke Breust, Matt Suckling, Paul Puopolo, Bradley Hill
Emg: Stephen Gilham, Jack Gunston, Broc McCauley
In: Bradley Hill
Out: Stephen Gilham
Milestones: Liam Shiels – 50 games
B: Cameron Delaney, Scott Thompson, Luke Delaney
HB: Shaun Atley, Michael Firrito, Nathan Grima
C: Daniel Wells, Andrew Swallow, Samuel Wright
HF: Ryan Bastinac, Aaron Edwards, Leigh Adams
F: Aaron Black, Drew Petrie, Kieran Harper
Foll: Todd Goldstein, Jack Ziebell, Brent Harvey
I/C: Levi Greenwood, Cruize Garlett, Ben Cunnington, Jamie Macmillan
Emg: Lindsay Thomas, Matt Campbell, Aaron Mullett
Milestones: Lindsay Thomas – 100 games
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