Can the Pies topple the Hawks tonight?

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Collingwood players celebrate their win over Essendon a the MCG. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

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Collingwood proved last week they can match it with the best, but they must put up a fight against Hawthorn to be considered a serious Premiership threat.

It seems Collingwood may have turned the corner, with four wins from their past five games.

A dominant four-quarter avalanche over arch-rivals Essendon by 79 points, and a 29-point victory over the reigning premiers, Sydney, on the Swans’ home turf in successive weeks have started to bring some hype back to the Westpac Centre.

What would be most pleasing to the black-and-white army is the consistency Collingwood have displayed over the last fortnight.

Barring the first ten minutes of the Sydney clash, the Magpies have outplayed, and more importantly, outworked their opposition, something they have been accused of lacking all year long.

The famous ‘forward press’ which has helped Collingwood feature in the past four preliminary finals, two of the past four Grand Finals (three, including the draw), and a flag, is back in full force.

They are chasing, tackling and doing everything in their capabilities to get it forward, and keep it there, bringing back memories of the Collingwood juggernaut we are all used to.

So it begs the question, are the Pies back? Is their form of the last fortnight enough to suggest they are a legitimate chance for the 2013 flag?

At approximately 11.00pm tonight we should have a fair indication.

The Pies will face Hawthorn in undoubtedly the match of the round at the MCG tonight, with more than 80,000 expected to pile in and see if Collingwood can take it up to the Premiership favourites.

Forget the Magpies blowout of Essendon and blue collared victory over the Swans, this week is the ultimate measuring stick for Collingwood to see just where they are at.

Let’s get something straight, Collingwood do not exactly like facing the Hawks.

Both of these teams’ rise to the top end of the ladder began to take place in 2007. Since then, the Pies and Hawks have played each other 12 times, of those 12 Hawthorn have been victors a whopping nine times with the Pies managing just three wins.

What is most staggering though is the way Hawthorne have performed in those match-ups.

Their nine wins have come with an average margin of 37.4 points, and they have taken the last four against the Pies by an average of 40.5 points.

Another startling fact from a Collingwood point of view, is how easy the Hawks have scored.

In their nine wins, the Hawks have poured on the points, averaging 127.5 points per game, and nearly an extra two goals more in their last four meetings, with an average of 138.8 points.

These are daunting numbers from a Magpie perspective giving that the one glaring weakness Collingwood has dealt with all season long is the opposition’s ability to put points on the board against them.

This week will show how resilient the Magpies are.

They showed it against Sydney after falling behind big early on, the Pies stuck to their guns and continued on the task at hand, which was to repeatedly fight to keep the ball inside their half and grind out hard earned goals.

They were able to do this, rather than replying with a quick three or four goals in a bunch.

Collingwood did not take their first lead until late into the second term, showing a strong mental application.

Tonight will definitely show everyone just how good this sleeping giant, that is the black and white, are.

Will they be able to produce the same defensive, hard-nosed, tackling minded performances from the fortnight gone, or will Collingwood again fall away and get blown out by their brown and gold nemesis?

For the Magpies it shouldn’t be all about winning.

Yes, obviously that is the goal, but if they can manage to stay the fight, such as they did last week, and not let Hawthorn get hold of them.

But if the game goes down to the line I would give a team with match-winning players such as Scott Pendlebury, Dane Swan, Dayne Beams and an exciting array of hungry young talent, every chance of producing the four points against absolutely anyone.

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