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Two of the AFL’s biggest clubs lock horns on the Apple Isle when the Hawthorn Hawks host the the Melbourne Demons at their Launceston home away from home. Follow the action from the final match of Round 14 here on The Roar with live scores from 3:20pm (AEST).
This match was moved from the MCG to Launceston during the week by the AFL, with fans still barred from attending matches in Melbourne due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Given the Hawks boast an impressive record at the ground, while the Bombers have never visited before, this should give the underdogs an advantage.
It’s not as if the Hawks are struggling, either. Despite sitting 17th on the ladder, Alastair Clarkson’s team head in off the back of a stunning 38-point win over finals hopeful Sydney in Round 13. Led by 34 touches from Tom Mitchell and a string of other contributors from emerging defender Changkuoth Jiath to recalled ruckman Jonathon Ceglar, it was arguably the Hawks’ finest performance since the last time they made finals in 2018.
The loss of hard nut James Worpel to a controversial suspension makes things more difficult, though it has allowed the Hawks to blood another debutant in Lachy Bramble. The 22-year old rookie was playing local footy for Sunbury just two years ago, but a string of good performances in the VFL has afforded him his first opportunity at the big time. With last round’s first-gamer Jai Newcombe setting a new AFL record for tackles on debut with 14, Bramble has plenty to live up to.
The Bombers head into this match as favourites, a sign of the trust the footy public now has in this oft-flaky side. Under new coach Ben Rutten, the Dons have come on in leaps and bounds in 2021, surprising many to sit well within reach of a finals spot at the season’s midpoint. With star midfielder Zach Merrett signing a whopping six-year deal to stay at Windy Hill during the week, things are looking rosy off-field as well.
Emerging ruckman Sam Draper, key tall Peter Wright and midfielder Devon Smith all return from injuries in a timely boost, though the loss of star Andrew McGrath to a long-term knee injury is a bitter blow.
A win would see the Bombers finish the round just a game out of the finals. Will they be returning to Melbourne with smiles, or can the Hawks bring the heat in the Launceston chill?
B: 15 Blake Hardwick, 8 Sam Frost, 4 Jarman Impey
HB: 14 Jack Scrimshaw, 29 Changkuoth Jiath, 26 Liam Shiels
C: 12 Will Day, 20 Chad Wingard, 10 Jaeger O’Meara
HF: 24 James Cousins, 22 Luke Breust, 34 Jacob Koschitzke
F: 36 Dylan Moore, 7 Ben McEvoy (c), 17 Daniel Howe
FOLL: 18 Jonathon Ceglar, 3 Tom Mitchell, 9 Shaun Burgoyne
INT: 16 Lachlan Bramble, 21 Tom Phillips, 23 Tim O’Brien, 44 Jai Newcombe
EMG: 11 Conor Nash, 35 Josh Morris, 39 Emerson Jeka, 42 Tyler Brockman
IN: James Cousins, Lachlan Bramble (debut)
OUT: Harry Morrison, James Worpel
B: 15 Jayden Laverde, 30 Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, 14 Jordan Ridley
HB: 21 Dyson Heppell (c), 17 James Stewart, 27 Mason Redman
C: 4 Kyle Langford, 7 Zach Merrett, 35 Matt Guelfi
HF: 16 Archie Perkins, 23 Harrison Jones, 5 Devon Smith
F: 25 Jake Stringer, 26 Cale Hooker, 43 Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
FOLL: 2 Sam Draper, 3 Darcy Parish, 33 Brayden Ham
INT: 13 Nik Cox, 19 Nick Hind, 20 Peter Wright, 28 Ned Cahill
EMG: 12 Tom Cutler, 29 Patrick Ambrose, 34 Andrew Phillips, 42 Sam Durham
IN: Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Devon Smith, Ned Cahill, Peter Wright, Sam Draper
OUT: Aaron Francis, Alec Waterman, Andrew McGrath, Andrew Phillips, David Zaharakis