Match Preview: R4 Collingwood v Hawks

Apr 14th, 2010 | By | Category: AFL Match Preview, Lead Article

By David Natoli
Aka DaVe86

Round 3 proved to be a week to forget for both the Collingwood and Hawthorn football club. Both sides are backing up from bruising encounters against top rated sides, and are feeling a little sore leading into a critical Round 4 match.

The Pies host the Hawks at the MCG this Saturday night in what shapes as a season defining game. For the Hawks, a tough start means they are staring down the barrel of a 1 and 3 win loss ratio despite having played some decent footy. Collingwood on the other hand were embarrassed by an undermanned St.Kilda side and terrible kicking for goal which resulted in a goal-less 2nd half. A win gives Collingwood a 3-1 start to the year, with a slightly easier draw to come. Failure to win means that the Pies have lost 2 games against bogey sides in a row, and must cast doubt on any flag aspirations.

The week for Collingwood has been marred by the quarter time confrontation between Milne, Malthouse and Licuria. However, you always have to be wary of a Collingwood side that is facing a week of controversy. The last big incident involving Didak and Shaw in 2008 saw a young Collingwood side go on to win impressively over St.Kilda, and even win a finals game against Adelaide.

Hawthorn on the other hand has felt the toll from their game against the Western Bulldogs with a number of key players missing through suspension or injury.

Recent History

Recent history between the 2 sides is dominated by Hawthorn. Their rolling zone setup, A grade midfielders and 2 key forwards have totally whipped the Magpies. The Hawks have won the last 4 encounters against Collingwood, with the Magpies last win coming in Round 13 2006. The usual suspects always seem to dominate as well. Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis and Lance Franklin. Franklin has kicked 5 and 8 goals respectively in the last 2 encounters.

Luke Hodge polled the 3 votes in the last meeting, with 34 disposals and 3 goals. Franklin and Guerra were the other vote getters. Jordan Lewis was also very prominent. Dane Swan had 35 disposals, whilst Heath Shaw was perhaps the Pies best with 32. Hawks eventual winners by 55 points.

In 2008, Lewis had 38 disposals, Mitchell 35 and Hodge 32. Didak was Collingwood’s best with 28. The Hawks were resounding victors by 54 points.

At the Selection Table

Starting with Hawthorn:

The good news for Collingwood is that Franklin will miss due to suspension. His 1 week ban was upheld by the tribunal after his hit on Akermanis. Admittingly I thought it was very soft and Franklin was unlucky. I also think a hit on Akermanis should be rewarded as opposed to frowned upon.

Jordan Lewis looks likely to play after his sickening clash which left him unconscious. He was able to return late and seems to be right to play.

Josh Gibson was the other casualty from last weeks clash. He has suffered the same injury as Nick Riewoldt and will undergo surgery to repair his torn hamstring. He will miss the majority of the year.

Brad Sewell is still 2 weeks away with his shoulder injury. Rhan Hooper at least 2 with his hamstring.

In better news for Hawthorn, Clinton Young and Shaun Burgoyne look set to return either this week or next, and Cyril Rioli seems to be running back into form after a limited pre-season. Osborne is also set to return.

Whether the Hawks rush in Burgoyne will be interesting. My tip:

Out: Franklin, Gibson, Suckling, Moss
In: Young, Burgoyne, Osborne, Lisle

For Collingwood:

Heath Shaw must prove his fitness after he missed last week. He is touch and go at this stage, but he has been one of the few Collingwood players to do alright against Hawthorn recently. He will be needed to help break the zone with his run off half back.

In terms of injury news, everything else looks ok for Collingwood. Ben Johnson is coming along alright and may return within the next fortnight.

The most pressing issue for Collingwood is the forward line setup.

Hawthorn was exposed by Geelong due to genuine talls. Barry Hall also mauled Hawthorn is the 2nd half, and did so in the NAB Cup as well.

Therefore, I think Collingwood needs to bring in Dawes. Fraser and Leigh Brown showed last week that you should not play 2 part-time forwards and expect results. Cloke leads too high to be a massive goal-scorer. Further, the smalls need a tall to crumb off.

The other question for Collingwood is whether to continue to carry its 2 under-performing ruckmen. The Hawks only have the 1 genuine ruck, who is feeling the pinch. Does Collingwood try and expose Renouf by double teaming, or do they drop 1 ruckmen and look to bring in a mid or permanent forward?

My answer is that Fraser should be dropped. If Fraser was contributing, then I’d say double team Renouf. But his form does not warrant selection and he hasn’t had enough game-time of late. Jolly is used to rucking 90% from his Sydney days, and he should maul Renouf realistically. Use Leigh Brown and Dawes to back up ruck and simply run Renouf around. Without Franklin, Roughead will be forced to back up which leaves the forward line down its 2 best players.

The side also needs more run. Buckley was very good in the VFL and his foot skills impressive. His decision making is still often iffy, but he makes mistakes trying to create. And you need that against Hawthorn. Otherwise they zone you out of the game.

Ins: Dawes, Buckley, Shaw
Outs: Fraser, Lockyer, McCarthy

I cannot excuse the games of the 3 players mentioned in the outs. McCarthy may be raw, but he missed important goals, and Lockyer was very fumbly under pressure.

Ben Reid will be close to selection, but with the omission of Franklin may not be needed. Though, another tall would be handy. Collingwood still look slightly slow in the middle with Beams and Sidebottom along with O’Bree, Pendlebury and Ball. Perhaps one of the younger 2 mids could be rested for more height or to make way for Buckley.

Tactics and Matchups

Collingwood’s main concern should be primarily on shutting down Hodge and Mitchell. Cameron Ling was able to shut down Hodge early, but Mitchell dominated. When Mitchell got the tag, Hodge went crazy. These 2 would be my primary focuses.

Finding a matchup however borders on impossible as Collingwood still lacks a tight tagger.

Collingwood knows that Hawthorn is going to zone. That means Collingwood has to take the game on. It has been slow and sloppy going with the ball in the last 2 matches, whereas Hawthorn has been very quick in its 2 losses to high quality sides.

The key is to try and get it long to the talls. The absence of Gibson makes the Hawthorn backline look even weaker. Exposing these players must be the key. That’s why Dawes should come in. But the Hawthorn defence will be fine if the midfield is able to shut down Collingwood’s run. The Hawks will simply put a lot of pressure on the ball carrier and force turnovers. In the past, Hawthorn may as well have not even played a defence because the ball hasn’t moved out of the Hawthorn forward line.

Hawthorn will be looking to expose Collingwood’s foot speed and lack of a tagger. If the ball gets freely into the hands of Lewis and Hodge, then the forwards are going to get good delivery. The clearances become very important for Hawthorn. If they get first use, then their shorter backline is less exposed. If Collingwood want to beat a zone, then they have to win the clearances and try to get the football to the forwards one out.

On the flip side, Hawthorn also lacks a tagger without Sewell. McGlynn did a famous job on Didak last year, but he is now playing for Sydney. So perhaps the influence of Hodge and Mitchell can be curtailed by the influence of Swan and Didak. Again, winning the stoppages and 50/50’s is essential.

It will be interesting to see what Hawthorn do with guys like Brown and Hodge who tend to rotate a lot between forward and back and in Hodge’s case midfield. The Hawks are missing their bookends in Franklin and Gibson, so I would not be surprised to see both rotate a lot.

Key Matchups:

Mitchell v O’Bree – It’s head to head in the clearances, but I think O’Bree needs to tight tag Mitchell around the ground. Mitchell is taggable, but can get on top in stoppages. O’Bree may not have the motor, but he is Collingwood’s best clearance player so can go head to head in that department. He’ll have to be accountable. I believe Mitchell is one of the best midfielders in the competition, so he should be Collingwood’s number 1 man to stop.

Hodge v Thomas – A big call, but Dale has done big jobs so far this year. He will work off Hodge, but he’ll need to stick with him around the ground. Looking back to Dale’s job on Judd last year should be the way he goes about it this year. Luke Hodge has had a fantastic start to the year after a good pre-season. In contrast to last year, he entered the season out of touch. He is playing predominantly midfield now, but without Gibson may also go to half back again, which makes the Thomas matchup even more suitable. Without Franklin, Hodge may also spend more time up forward, where perhaps Heath Shaw will get the matchup.

Lewis v Swan – Lewis has been Collingwood’s other destroyer. Swan is slightly out of form at the moment, but should go head to head against Lewis this week. You can’t tag all of Hawthorn’s midfielders, but if Swan can be freed up then Collingwood is always dangerous.

Rioli v Toovey – Toovey is the only one with the foot speed at Collingwood to go with Rioli. Cyril is in exciting touch, coming off a 4 goal game. On the other hand, I have been disappointed with Toovey’s early form and he needs a big one this week. The other potential matchup is O’Brien who did the job on Milne last week. This is perhaps more likely, but I suppose it depends on how much midfield time Rioli gets and Collingwood may want to use Harry more attackingly.

Cloke v Shoenmakers – The youngstar will be called to do the main jobs without Gibson now, and is my tip to get the job on Cloke. Gilham will probably stay closer to goal, so may get Dawes or Leigh Brown if we send them up there. Cloke is very important to Collingwood’s cause and showed signs of regaining his touch last week.

Roughead v Prestigiacomo – Without Franklin, Roughead is the focal point for Hawthorn. His strength will worry Presti, but Presti will match him on a lead. Leigh Brown would be my other tip to get this job if the Pies elect to send him down back. Presti will obviously be relying on guys like Maxwell to help out.

Bateman v Wellingham – Wellingham has been the one getting the defensive jobs on the key mids and should be told to tag Bateman this week. Wellingham is coming off 3 solid games and needs to continue this form. Bateman has good foot speed, so Wellingham is perhaps the only one who can match him. If left free, Bateman is so dangerous and puts games away from the oppositions grasp.

DaVe’s Soapbox:

Well I can’t finish this preview without my comment on the Mick Malthouse saga.

I cannot dispute he did wrong. I also agree with the sanction the AFL received. But that should be the end of it now. Both sides got together and made an agreement they were happy with. St.Kilda got their apology whilst admitting Milne was an instigator.

Malthouse should know better as a senior coach with 27 years experience. But let’s be honest here. The reason he has been castrated by the media is because he lied to them and is often grumpy when the interview him. This is their chance for revenge.

A lie in a press conference is not unknown. And Malthouse may not have known that St.Kilda would want further action. Ultimately, his apology was accepted by St.Kilda and therefore I presume Stephen Milne who is seemingly not taking the matter further.

Certain journalists are seeking any little scrap of information they can to suggest that Malthouse is feeling the pressure with Buckley there. I don’t buy into it. Malthouse knew the arrangement and so did Buckley. The media may want to imply a rift between the 2, but I just don’t think it exists. Buckley knows Mick is in charge. If he wanted control, he would’ve taken the job at North Melbourne. It may frustrate him, but his turn will come. For now, Mick has the right to take control because he is senior coach and Buckley merely a forward coach. Buckley is smart enough to understand this, and his time will come.

Mick did wrong, as did Licuria and Milne. He should not have been sucked in by Milne who got the response he wanted. But the issue is put to bed now. All the media are doing now is trying to drag the story on a bit more.

Fantasy Advice

Just a short note this week. Mitchell, Hodge and Lewis will dominate.

Pendlebury should also bounce back without a tag. Hawthorn has no real taggers at the moment and will focus more on Didak like they did last year.

If you have Riewoldt, consider holding him for a week or 2. Buddy will come back and he is 100K less. No other forwards are presenting. His price may even go down with 2 average scores, so perhaps hold Roo an extra week. There are no real other forwards setting the world on fire apart from Jonathon Brown. But you may have missed the boat with him.

The Wrap Up

Ultimately, despite all the analysis, it will come down to whether Collingwood moves the ball well or not. If the Pies are able to pierce the zone frequently, the Hawthorn backline is shaky. So is its ruck division. Without Franklin, the forward line is not at full strength either. Collingwood’s defence ultimately held St.Kilda well last week, so should be able to hold the Hawks to a winnable total.

The problem is midfield and forward for Collingwood. I have not seen any evidence in the last 2 rounds that suggests the Pies can break through the zone. If Burgoyne comes in, the Hawthorn midfield is quick and classy and fantastic in the stoppages. They are also hungry for a win and confident they can roll the Pies for the 5th time in a row.

Regardless of holes in the side, Hawthorn knows it can shut down Collingwood’s run, and knows it has the foot speed. Clean ball use becomes the key. I think my proposed changes for Collingwood would really help.

Hawthorn by 20

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