Two of the AFL’s most bitter rivals are set to take centre stage as Geelong play Hawthorn at the MCG. Geelong has not lost to the Hawks since the 2008 Grand Final, but with Hawthorn in form, can Buddy, Cyril and Roughie get the Hawks over their bogey team?
Join us tonight at 7:10pm for score updates and a live blog of the Round 12 match between Geelong v Hawthorn.
The hostilities between these two goes back a while.
One of the game’s greats in Gary Ablett Snr played six games for Hawthorn in 1982 before joining Geelong two years later and going on to become a legend of the game.
His son Gary was selected to play for Geelong by virtue of the father-son rule. If Senior had never left Hawthorn, Junior might have been lining up with Junior Rioli tonight.
These two teams have contested three grand finals and while not much is said about Geelong’s 49-point win in 1963 (Bob Davis-aside), their battle in 1989 – that left only 13 players without injury at its conclusion – is legendary.
The Hawks led by 40 at quarter time and not even a Grand Final record haul of 9 goals from Ablett could get Geelong home.
Most recently and relevant to tonight’s encounter is the 2008 Grand Final. Geelong went into the game having only lost once that season. They were the defending champions and against the young Hawks, were expected to win.
Inaccurate kicking from the Cats and a brilliant Hawthorn effort lifted the Brown and Golds to their tenth premiership.
Before the start of the following season, on the eve of the 2008 Grand Final rematch, Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett declared his side psychologically stronger than Geelong.
Famously the Cats have won all five encounters since by an average of less than eight points.
There is no doubt that Geelong will again draw inspiration from the 2008 Grand Final defeat for this.
Prior to their last encounter in April, Geelong forward Paul Chapman said, “We’ve said to ourselves that we don’t, if we can, ever let Hawthorn beat us again because we still hurt from that.”
Much of the talk in the Hawk camp leading into tonight’s game has been about whether Lance Franklin will take part.
While no decision will be made until the final teams are submitted an hour before the game, it is interesting to see what his presence does for the Hawks.
Since 2009, when Buddy has not played, Hawthorn has a 4-3 record. With Franklin, the Hawks are 25-21. All that aside, Franklin poses a massive threat to any defence mainly because he can crack a game wide open in a few minutes, most famously against Essendon last year when he kicked goal of the year twice in the space of five minutes.
What makes tonight’s match so exciting is that both Geelong and Hawthorn are genuine premiership contenders.
The Cats are undefeated in 2011, while the Hawks have only dropped two matches, one to the Crows in Adelaide at the beginning of the season, the other to today’s opponents.
There is growing belief that one of these two teams, along with Carlton, are Collingwood’s biggest threat to the title.
Like last night’s “elimination final”, tonight’s encounter will be will somewhat of an entrée to September.
One thing to remember is that while Geelong has come off consecutive seven-day breaks and are therefore well rested, Hawthorn needed to call on an inspired final-quarter burst to dispose of the out of form and injury-ravaged Fremantle and have only six days to recover for this.
The undefeated Cats have had the luxury of resting key members of their squad in the last month. Tonight, running defender David Wojcinski misses due to soreness. There was an injury cloud on Chapman but he has been named and I would expect him to play.
Along with the question marks on Franklin’s fitness, the Hawks have plenty of other injuries to worry about. They are without Bateman, Bruce, Statton, Gilham, Ellis and Hale.
In isolation, Hawthorn can cover all of those players but with all of them out together, the Brown and Gold will call on their youngsters, including the impressive super sub Luke Breust to give them a lift. But against the hardened Cats, bigger bodies are what Hawthorn are likely to need, especially if it gets close in the final quarter.
I’m going to tip Geelong to win tonight, purely because the Cats are better rested than the Hawks, have more fit players to choose from and have beaten Hawthorn in each of their last five encounters.
I expect it to be close, so I’ll nominate a margin of 14 points. I can’t see a blowout in favour either team.
B: Josh Hunt, Tom Lonergan, Matthew Scarlett
HB: Andrew Mackie, Harry Taylor, Taylor Hunt
C: Jimmy Bartel, Cameron Ling, Corey Enright
HF: Steve Johnson, James Podsiadly, Paul Chapman
F: Mathew Stokes, Brad Ottens, Daniel Menzel
Foll: Nathan Vardy, Travis Varcoe, Joel Corey
I/C: James Kelly, Darren Milburn, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan
Emg: Tom Hawkins, Allen Christensen, Josh Cowan
IN: Chapman, Milburn
OUT: Wojcinski, Cowan
B: Grant Birchall, Josh Gibson, Paul Puopolo
HB: Brent Guerra, Ryan Schoenmakers, Thomas Murphy
C: Clinton Young, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis
HF: Shaun Burgoyne, Lance Franklin, Liam Shiels
F: Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, Michael Osborne
Foll: Max Bailey, Luke Hodge, Brad Sewell
I/C: Brendan Whitecross, Shane Savage, Luke Breust, Matt Suckling
Emg: Rick Ladson, Brent Renouf, Kyle Cheney
IN: Franklin, Savage
OUT: Lisle, Cheney
LAST TIME: Geelong 17.15 (117) d Hawthorn 15.8 (98), MCG, Round 5, 2011
PAST FIVE: Geelong 5 Hawthorn 0
RECORD OVERALL: Geelong 67 Hawthorn 78 draw 1
AT THE MCG: Geelong 8 Hawthorn 4
SINCE 2000: Geelong 11 Hawthorn 8
BETTING: Geelong $1.43 Hawthorn $2.75