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It’s a final roll of the dice for the Hawthorn Hawks when they take on the GWS Giants in Canberra at the University of New South Wales Canberra Oval. Join The Roar for live scores and blog from 7:50pm AEDT.
Finals are still mathematically possible for the Hawks, who sit in 12th spot, two wins and percentage behind the Adelaide Crows in eighth. Two losses in a row, including a demoralising one to North Melbourne last Friday night, have made this match a must-win.
In the background Alistair Clarkson may have given up on 2019 – a year that started shockingly with Tom Mitchell’s knee injury and never really got going after that – but in public he’ll be pressing his men to finish on a high.
Pinching an upset win against the finals-bound Giants in this game would be a huge confidence boost to take into the final two rounds and 2020.
The Giants are in hot form, having won the last three to affirm their finals credentials. A victory over Hawthorn would almost ensure them fifth spot (or a push into fourth) given their massive percentage buffer over the struggling Pies in sixth and unreliable Essendon in seventh.
Last week the Giants clung on in a tight game to defeat cross-town rivals the Swans. Mammoth games from the usually more peripheral (or forward) players Toby Greene (34 disposals), Zac Williams (32) and Jacob Hopper (26 and 3 goals) demonstrated the depth and danger of this Giants squad.
This week they welcome back star Jeremy Cameron to lead the line, while Adam Kennedy and Dawson Simpson come in to add options in defence and the ruck (where Shane Mumford must surely be winding down).
Cameron’s return will offset the loss of effective depth forwards Jeremy Finlayson and Harry Himmelberg who miss through injury. Connor Idun is omitted.
Hawthorn have had to also make a change in the ruck, with Jon Ceglar coming in for the injured Ben McEvoy. James Cousins also returns and there’s a debut for Changkuoth Jiath, a category B rookie who’s just been elevated to the senior list.
Grant Burchill comes out of the side, injured again, and sadly for the club legend may have played his last game for Hawthorn. He’s joined by Connor Nash who has been dropped.
GWS should win this game. They have the talent at every line, as well as the bodies on the ball to get first use and be effective with it.
While Hawthorn have a habit of finding form when it’s needed, it would be a big stretch of the imagination to see them procuring a result in this game.
Certainly, if GWS have ambitions to go deep in September, they should be able to beat teams like Hawthorn, whose squad is being held together by sticky tape and blu-tack at this stage.
GWS by 24 points.