Collingwood is in red hot form after two impressive performances against Essendon and genuine premiership contender Sydney, and will need to continue it when they meet Hawthorn at the MCG tonight. We’ll have live scores from 7.50pm AEST.
The Magpies have found their mojo and will be looking to send a message to the rest of the competition with a strong game against the Hawks.
Collingwood has lost just one of five games since the ‘big four’ was reunited (Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom), the loss coming against the Gold Coast where a rampant Gary Ablett put on a one man master class against the hapless Magpies.
Beams’ return in particular has been crucial for Collingwood as it allows them greater flexibility in the midfield and creates a headache for the opposition team.
With all four midfielders playing at once it is almost impossible for the opposition to stop at least one player from tearing the game apart.
Beams didn’t play against the Hawks earlier this year when Collingwood lost by 55 points, a game in which they had control midway through the second quarter leading by 22 points.
Hawthorn will be hoping that Collingwood’s recent form doesn’t continue, and will be buoyed by their good recent record against Collingwood.
The Magpies haven’t beaten Hawthorn since the Hawks heart breaking preliminary final loss in 2011.
Since then the Hawks have averaged a winning margin of 40 points in their last 4 encounters against Collingwood.
However Hawthorn’s recent performances particularly in the last fortnight have been flat and lacklustre with a loss to Richmond and a poor win over lowly rated St Kilda.
Expect this game to be a preview of what we may see in September with the victor likely to take a large amount of confidence going into September, and with a likely crowd of 75,000 spectators expected to turn up both teams will be up for this clash.
Hawthorn have brought in Lance Franklin, Grant Birchall and Luke Hodge but will be without Max Bailey, who misses with knee soreness, and Liam Shiels will play another week in the VFL. As will Kyle Cheney, whose form for Box Hill has been excellent.
Collingwood goes in with an unchanged team this week, with Nathan Buckley resisting the temptation to bring in Ben Hudson to help Brodie Grundy. Other than that all eyes will be on the VFL team this week.
Keys to the game
Has been brilliant in the Magpies’ recent surge, averaging 31 disposals and 6.2 clearances in his five games since returning from a 15-week quad injury.
Only Swan and Gary Ablett have averaged more disposals than Beams per game in 2013, and he’s ranked equal-fifth for clearances.
With Franklin and Roughead at one end and Travis Cloke at the other, neither team should have trouble finding a target up forward.
The Hawks are ranked number one for marks inside 50 this season, averaging 15 per game, while the Magpies are second with 14.2 marks per game.
Good defenders will be at an absolute premium.
Collingwood has been absolutely red hot, while the Hawks haven’t really shown signs of setting the world on fire. It’s time Collingwood broke the hoodoo and cemented themselves as a genuine premiership contender.
Do or die I say: Pies by five.