Thursday, September 15, 2016

Preview, Semi Final, Hawthorn versus Western Bulldogs

They say in every fairytale there is a monster.

With the precocious Western Bulldogs facing this reality in a knockout final on Friday night against a Hawthorn unit still smarting from stealing defeat from the hands of victory against Geelong.

Leaving us all to ponder whether the youthful Dogs can contend with and slay the impending beast, as opposed to being monstered?

The Teams


B:Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Shaun Burgoyne

HB:Luke Hodge, Josh Gibson, Grant Birchall

C:Isaac Smith, Sam Mitchell, Bradley Hill

HF:Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Cyril Rioli

F:Paul Puopolo, Jack Fitzpatrick, Ryan Schoenmakers

FOL:Ben McEvoy, Jordan Lewis, Liam Shiels

I/C:Ben Stratton, Brendan Whitecross, James Sicily,Billy Hartung

EMG:Will Langford, Daniel Howe, Matt Spangher


B:Jason Johannisen, Joel Hamling, Matthew Boyd

HB:Matthew Suckling, Dale Morris, Easton Wood

C:Lachie Hunter, Marcus Bontempelli, Liam Picken

HF:Jack Macrae, Zaine Cordy, Jake Stringer

F:Tory Dickson, Tom Boyd, Caleb Daniel

FOL:Jordan Roughead, Luke Dahlhaus, Tom Liberatore

I/C:Clay Smith, Toby McLean, Josh Dunkley, Shane Biggs

The Hawks have added the run of Billy Hartung replacing the versatility of Dan Howe. As well as bring in James Sicily to add some marking power and greater structure to their forward line with the injured Ryan Burton making way

The only change for the Western Bulldogs is Toby McLean coming in for the injured Lin Jong

The Prelude to the Game

For both, the legacy of 'last week' looms large....

How will Hawthorn's respond to last weeks galling defeat?

A question dominating all the headlines and which smacks of ignorance to a group with proven resilience as seen in dealing and prevailing from bitter blows in the recent past. If anything, the defeat will sting them, and in the process steel their focus and with it, ignite all their engines.

The bigger question in my mind is the response of the Dogs to last week's momentous win with the reactionary media going into overdrive in ordaining them as 'arriving as a force.' The irony of this is inspirational wins are as often as hard to deal with as galling defeats with them deluding young teams into thinking they are more advanced than they are. We saw this in 2007 with Hawthorn after a great finals victory against Adelaide led to a shock loss the week after against 'Norf', When it was obvious most of the player's minds we still basking in the adulation of last week.

Most are expecting last week to fill the Dogs sails with the winds of momentum but do not be surprised if they suffer a mental letdown

The Game 

Targeting has been central to the anti-social ethos of  Alastair Clarkson's Hawthorn dynasty with it certain to be front row centre of Friday night. They will try to beat up and batter the youthful pups as well as pay special attention to a few individuals.

Like the 2014 Grand Final where they had a huge target on the head of Dan Hannebary's head they will do similar to one of the Scrays precocious pups. The obvious one is Bontempelli, but to lend a cricketing analogy, he has a Brian Lara demeanour about him and would lift in the face of it. The next obvious one is Caleb Daniel, who is so destructive with his creativity and footy smarts that have flourished with him floating under the radar. He ran with Sam Mitchell last game and is likely to do the same but look for some old fashioned ugliness to emerge with the work the Hawks put into him.

Diverting from the intimidation factor, the midfield battles  will be decisive.

Key in this will be whether Hawthorn can match Footscray in the inside battles to facilitate their uncontested game style?

After struggling all season they lifted the ante against Geelong last week but can they follow suit against arguably a better midfield unit containing an outside arsenal of line breaking jets that can rip any opposition to ribbons.

Jordan Lewis and Shaun Burgoyne were huge last week with their contested bestiality and will need to be similarly stellar.

If Hawthorn can hold their own in the midfield, I cannot see the Scrays having the firepower forward to kick a winning score. With them lacking the height in their attack to expose the Hawks defensive frailties and relying on a host of small and mid size forwards to get the job done which buys into Hawthorn's defensive strength.

It would rely on either Tom Boyd or Jake Stringer playing major roles.

The Key Duals 

Zaine Cordy versus Josh Gibson 

It is near certain the Dogs will play a defensive forward on Josh Gibson, with Zaine Cordy likely to get the role. Last week Geelong assigned Jimmy Bartel the role of making Gibson accountable for an opponent and limiting his ability to zone off and impact on other contests as third man up. It left the Hawks defence isolated in one on one duals making them very exploitable.

The Scrays are sure to follow suit and it will be interesting to see Gibson's response after looking frustrated and lost last week

Liam Shiels/Ben Stratton versus Marcus Bontempelli 

I cannot see the Hawks tagging Bontempelli tightly but will lock onto him tight in stoppages trying to limit his clearance ability. He is likely to go forward to cause match up issues, and when this occurs, I can see Ben Stratton locking on to him.

The X-Factors 

The Media's effect on the Umps 

It will be interesting to see the umpiring response after a few Hawks made mention to the scragging tactics of Scott Selwood while tagging Sam Mitchell last week.

If the past is anything to go by the response will be reactionary with the umps paying a few cheap free kicks for the Hawk midfield dynamo.

The 'Unknown' Dogs 

The names like Bontempelli, Stringer and Liberatore amongst others are known by all. But, there are still many in the Scrays line up that are floating under the radar and not getting the dues they deserve. This makes them very dangerous for they are often not afforded the attention that their abilities dictate.

Views from the Outer
Glenn S Birnie
: If we lose it not the result of how we finish but a result of where we have lacked throughout the year against quicker midfield

Michael Ellery:
More of the same from last week, we were the better team in general play.

Mark Grasso- 
I think the result will essentially be determined by the Dog's mindset. I feel their best will beat us for we now lack that key forward presence and are susceptible all over the ground.


This Hawks unit is too proud to go out in straight sets, and the combination of this, and the Dogs feeling a let down after last weeks remarkable victory.

Hawks to prevail by 6 goals


  1. Good write up, Tim. I am thinking (or hoping) much the same but I think it will be Libba getting close up with Sammy as they will want Caleb Daniel's ball use freed up. He has a lethal foot and is a brilliant decision maker - reminds me a bit of Sammy.

    1. I think they will anticipate Daniel being freed by playing on Sam because of Mitchell's lack of a defensive side

  2. I can't see Daniels going to Mitchell either. You need a monster tackler to take on Mitchell. Daniels is a creator, not a destroyer.

    1. They did in the last game, with the mindset that he will punish Mitchell for his lack of a defensive side. A bit like McGlynn when he plays on Sam