LAST TIME: Geelong 14.8 (92) d Hawthorn 13.12 (90), round two, 2012 at the MCG
Ever since Hawthorn upset the Cats in the 2008 Grand Final, the Cats have appeared determined to never again lose to the Hawks. It may seem like a ridiculous goal, but when you consider the chances the Hawks have had in the years past, it is clear that the Cats step up to a new level when facing their rivals.
Of course, those losses could be a representation of the general standard of the sides: Geelong have won two premierships since the Hawks’ premiership whilst Hawthorn have only managed the one finals victory in the same time span. Clearly, Geelong’s side has been better since that fateful day.
But despite the ladder discrepancy, six of the eight losses to the Cats have been under nine points, meaning that there are some legitimate questions regarding the Hawks mental state towards the Cats that need to be answered.
Tonight, Hawthorn will be presented with their best chance to break the winning streak. The Cats have found some momentum in previous weeks, belting Essendon and comfortably dispatching an Adelaide side fighting for a top four berth, but otherwise, Hawthorn have clearly had the superior season.
The worrying thing about facing the Hawks comes from finding a way to stop their attacking prowess. Lance Franklin is clearly the focal point, but they have more than a few options on the rare occasions that ‘Buddy’ is being negated. Luke Breust, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli, Jordan Lewis and Jack Gunston, along with ‘Buddy’, have kicked over 20 goals this season, causing severe headaches for defences across the land.
Captain Luke Hodge even got in on the act last week, showing no signs of rustiness in his return game with a five goal performance. This Cats defence will be stretched, and will need to be at their best if they are to create an upset tonight.
The Cats have been impressive in the past fortnight, and will certainly be alarming some premiership aspirants with the form that they’ve rediscovered.
However, the Hawks have been hitting that standard for quite some time now, and there is no reason why it should change tonight. Hawthorn should finally break the hoodoo that has haunted them since their last premiership.
Hawks by 23