Saturday, April 18, 2015

Preview, Round 3, Hawthorn versus Western Bulldogs

Most fans will admit to having the Dogs as their second team and loving their fairytale undefeated start to the season.

A reaction to the club losing its Captain, Coach as well as nearly 800 games of experience before 2015 ticked over. Worse was to come with arguably their best player Tom Liberatore succumbing to a cruel season-ending knee injury before the dew on the pre-season grass had been kicked off.

Fans and experts alike thought it would lead to the Dogs being rolled over and playing dead in 2015, but, they have come out snarling with an attacking brand of football that has captivated all.

Round 3 will offer a reality to their fairytale against a Hawks unit that will come in with cold-blooded stares, bereft of any sentimentality after an insipid display against the 'filth' last week.

The Teams:

HAWTHORN

B: Shaun Burgoyne, Brian Lake, Ben McEvoy

HB: Grant Birchall, Josh Gibson, Ben Stratton

C: Isaac Smith, Sam Mitchell, Bradley Hill

HF: Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Will Langford

F: Paul Puopolo, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli

FOL: Jonathon Ceglar, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis

I/C: Brendan Whitecross, Taylor Duryea, Jed Anderson, Matthew Suckling

EMER: James Sicily, Ryan Shoenmaker, Billy Hartung

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: Matthew Boyd, Jordan Roughead, Dale Morris

HB: Robert Murphy, Michael Talia, Lukas Webb

C: Tory Dickson, Mitch Honeychurch, Jason Johannisen

HF:Luke Dahlhaus, Ayce Cordy, Jack Macrae

F:Jake Stringer, Tom Boyd, Mitch Wallis

FOL: Will Minson, Lin Jong, Marcus Bontempelli

I/C: Jarrad Grant, Stewart Crameri, Liam Picken, Brett Goodes

EMG: Nathan Hrovat, Fletcher Roberts, Koby Stevens

Starting with the Hawks, who have been delivered a blow last week with the pectoral injury to key defender James Frawley as well as speedster Brad Hill being a late withdrawal from this weeks selected side. It points to the likely inclusion of fellow jet Billy Hartung, but, it would also not surprise to see Ryan Shoenmakers come in to offer added height to the backline.

Legends Sam Mitchell and Josh Gibson are welcome additions as well as the quintessential clubman in Brendan Whitecross who plays his first game after two tragic knee reconstructions.

His inclusion and the meaning to the group cannot be under estimated

The Dogs have been dealt an unexpected blow with the evergreen veteran Matthew Boyd pulling out on the games eve.

The Game

There is something about this game, and opposition that attaches doubt to my usual certainty.

After the abject performance from last week, I would usually fear for any opposition facing us next. The questions I have is firstly the knowledge that Dogs coach Luke Beveridge has of our lineup after being an assistant coach.

Richmond was a bogey team after Damien Hardwick left us to coach them, and Beveridge brings similar inside knowledge to the Dogs.

While it is hard to rate the bearing this might have over the match, one can't deny it being a factor.

The second point is the relative unknown of Dogs line up.

Ask yourself, aside from their veterans such as Rob Murphy, Dale Morris and Will Minson and their high profile youngsters such as Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Boyd- how many others have reputations?

The unpredictability of this worries me

Especially with Beveridge releasing the choker chains that Brendan McCartney had around many of Scrays precocious pups and propelling them with his enthusiastic belief. Leading to the emergence of a fair few that are showing they could be very decent AFL players

Their run has been their highlight, and like the Dons run of last week troubled us, the Dogs are very able to do the same. The loss of Hill makes this a greater concern.

In response, you can expect the Hawks to close the game down, make it a tight, tough and in close affair where they can bruise the younger bodies of the WB mids. Tiring their bodies and invariably eroding their heads making it tough for them to sustain their efforts at a level high enough for the upset.

Round 3 Focus Player- Brendan Whitecross
\Great clubs are always remarked on for their stars, inspiring leader and master coaches, but, just as key are the respected clubmen

Brendan Whitecross is this man for Hawthorn

A player beloved by all the players, and if not for cruel Fate seeing him suffer two knee reconstructions he would be a dual premiership player.

He is held in such regard that he was viewed as one of the air apparent with Roughy, Liam Shiels and Jordan Lewis to lead the club after Hodgey relinquishes the Captaincy

After his knee crumbled in the final minutes of the 2013 Preliminary final, he returns this week, and you can know that it will put an extra charge in his team mates

Prediction

' In every fairytale there is a big bad monster.....'

The Dogs will discover this in the form of 22 rabid Hawks intent on redemption

Hawks by 42 points

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