Collingwood v Hawthorn
MCG – 1:45PM – Saturday 21 July
The most even season in recent memory produces its most defining match yet as Collingwood clash with Hawthorn this Saturday afternoon.
In what has been built as the round of the year, this match is perhaps the most critical in shaping the all important top four positions.
Both teams come in to the clash with exceptional form, with each team winning nine of their last 10 games.
A Collingwood win would see the Pies skip two games clear of the Hawks with only six games remaining, while a Hawthorn win would see them leapfrog Collingwood in to the top four with a vastly superior percentage.
Plenty of time has passed since Hawthorn triumphed over Collingwood in round 1, with this encounter producing many new questions.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the match is how Hawthorn will function with out star player Lance Franklin, who sits his second week on the sidelines with a hamstring concern.
Franklin, who has kicked 51 goals this year, was a crucial piece of the round one puzzle and will be severely missed. To help offset the loss, Hawthorn will on this occasion have Jarryd Roughead.
Roughead will need to be at his absolute to help minimise the loss of Franklin, though he will have help from his team mates.
A vital aspect to Hawthorn’s games this year is its ability to produce multiple goal kickers, especially from the midfield, making it critically Collingwood run both ways.
Collingwood will have no concerns with their midfield however, with Dane Swan firing, Scott Pendlebury racking up a season high possession count last week in his first game back along with Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom having breakout seasons.
Where Collingwood has been below par is in its forward line, with Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes having below average outputs in 2012.
Coming up against the most formidable offensive team in the competition, Collingwood need Cloke and Dawes to fire.
With out there forward duo firing, Collingwood may just fall short of a winning score.
Prediction: Hawthorn by 16 points
B: Heritier O’Brien, Nathan Brown, Chris Tarrant
HB: Nick Maxwell, Ben Reid, Alan Toovey
C: Ben Sinclair, Dale Thomas, Jarryd Blair
HF: Scott Pendlebury, Chris Dawes, Heath Shaw
F: Dayne Beams, Travis Cloke, Tyson Goldsack
Foll: Darren Jolly, Dane Swan, Steele Sidebottom
I/C: Tom Young, Alex Fasolo, Paul Seedsman, Jamie Elliott
Emg: Martin Clarke, Simon Buckley, Caolan Mooney
In: Tom Young, Paul Seedsman
Out: Martin Clarke, Simon Buckley
B: Kyle Cheney, Stephen Gilham, Benjamin Stratton
HB: Matt Suckling, Josh Gibson, Grant Birchall
C: Clinton Young, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis
HF: Brendan Whitecross, Ryan Schoenmakers, Jack Gunston
F: Paul Puopolo, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli
Foll: David Hale, Shaun Burgoyne, Brad Sewell
I/C: Liam Shiels, Luke Breust, Thomas Murphy, Isaac Smith
Emg: Max Bailey, Shane Savage, Bradley Hill