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THE VISIT by Whispering Jack

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Melbourne and Hawthorn have faced each other intermittently on the VFL/AFL finals stage since the latter entered the competition in 1925. In their formative years, the Hawks were the eternal battlers and it took them more than three decades to make the finals. When they finally did make it, they were visitors in the Demons’ golden era, a period during which they won six flags in a decade from 1955 to 1964.

Hawthorn literally came out of the cold when it won its first final in 1957 against Carlton on a freezing day that brought hail to the MCG but a fortnight later, it suffered its first finals defeat ever at the hands of Melbourne in the Preliminary Final. Four years later, the Hawks turned the tables in the Second Semi Final on the way to their first premiership in 1961. They also prevailed in the 1963 Preliminary Final before going down to the Cats in the big dance. A year later, the Demons knocked the Hawks out of the finals race thanks to a miraculous late goal from “Hassa” Mann in the penultimate round before going on to win their twelfth and last premiership. 

Still, Hawthorn’s visit into Melbourne’s parade had produced its first premiership triumph and a 2:1 record in finals against the club:-

• 1957 Preliminary Final Melbourne 22.12.144 defeated Hawthorn 11.10.76

• 1961 Second Semi Final Hawthorn 12.8.80 defeated Melbourne 11.7.73

• 1963 Preliminary Final Hawthorn 11.11.77 defeated Melbourne 10.8.68

The ensuing period saw the clubs gradually change places in the premiership pecking order. In the 70s and 80s, the Hawks were ascendant and the Demons lamentable. When they did recover to return to finals status, it was they who were to be the visitors in Hawthorn’s triumphant years. The teams met three times again in finals for one Melbourne win but the Demons could not sustain a run of form sufficient to gain the ultimate reward, either then or in the years that followed. The finals record in that period between the clubs:-

• 1987 Preliminary Final Hawthorn 11.14.80 defeated Melbourne 10.18.78

• 1988 Grand Final Hawthorn 22.20.152 defeated Melbourne 6.20.56

• 1990 Elimination Final Melbourne 10.13.73 defeated Hawthorn 8.16.64

Their fortunes ebbed and flowed but it was the Hawks that were soon back in the finals, picking up three premierships in the past decade while the Demons again languished. 

On Friday night, Melbourne will pay another visit to the finals stage when it meets Hawthorn at the MCG in a Semi Final. The fans are asking the question whether the time has come for the Demons to take up the ascendency and to usher in a new golden era for the club.

**** SCROLL FOR PREDICTION ****

THE GAME

Hawthorn v M elbourne at the MCG Friday 14 September 2018 at 7.50pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 75 wins Hawthorn 87 wins

At MCG Melbourne 36 wins Hawthorn 46 wins 

Last 5 meetings Melbourne 1 win Hawthorn 4 wins 

The Coaches Goodwin 0 win s Clarkson 2 wins 

MEDIA

TV - Channel 7 live at 7:30pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:30pm

RADIO -  Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Hawthorn 18.7.115 defeated Melbourne 6.12.48 in Round 4, 2018 at the MCG

It was the worst day of the home and away season for the Demons on a wet MCG. They started well enough and led by 19 points deep in the first term and were still in the game at half time before falling in a heap after the main break. The Hawks were in superlative form and their shots at goal rarely missed while the home side broke down time after time when it went into attack before capitulation in the end. Despite the 67 point flogging, Melbourne made only one less forward 50 entry than did Hawthorn.

THE TEAMS  
 
HAWTHORN 

B: Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Blake Hardwick 
HB: Jarman Impey, James Sicily, Ryan Burton 
C : Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Liam Shiels 
HF: Shaun Burgoyne, Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston 
F: Luke Breust, Conor Nash, Paul Puopolo 
Foll: Ben McEvoy, Daniel Howe, James Worpel 
I/C: Ricky Henderson, David Mirra, Harry Morrison, Ryan Schoenmakers 
Emg: Kaiden Brand, Jonathon Ceglar, James Cousins, Brendan Whitecross  

In: Taylor Duryea, David Mirra, Ryan Schoenmakers 

Out: Jonathon Ceglar (omitted), Ben Stratton (hamstring) Jaeger O'Meara (knee)

MELBOURNE

B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis
HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd
C : Dom Tyson, Jack Viney, James Harmes
HF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Angus Brayshaw
F: Sam Weideman, Aaron vandenBerg, Alex Neal-Bullen
Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver
I/C: Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo
Emg: Jay Kennedy Harris, Jayden Hunt, Joel Smith, Tim Smith

No change

Over the past two years there has been a sea change of major proportions in the standing of the clubs sitting on top of the AFL tree with the dominant teams of the past decade in Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong making way to some new faces in the race for premiership honours.

The Western Bulldogs led the way in 2016 and, although they stumbled after their premiership victory, their place was taken by Richmond which pushed the boundaries of pressure-cooker football to the limit in last year’s finals. 

The first week of this year’s final series saw the continuing adjustment in positioning of the game’s leading teams. The Cats and the Swans crashed badly and the Hawks who had already tasted a year out of the finals race, started well enough against the reigning premiers but they were finally worn down by relentless pressure. 

Hawthorn now face up to a Melbourne combination that was similarly aggressive in their taming of Geelong in their first finals appearance in 12 years. While it would be foolish to simply suggest on the evidence of this one week that the Demons are on the cusp of a new era of supremacy over the Hawks, there is a strong case to be made that the histories of the two clubs are about to intersect again on Friday night. 

That case is based on a number of the key indicators of the game that suggest the young Demons are on track to follow in the path of the Tigers not only this week, but in the medium term as well.

The major indicator of a team’s strength in the modern game is its midfield and in this regard Melbourne has been to the fore this year. The club boasts the highest-ranked ruckman in Max Gawn and its midfield players are number one in centre clearances. That combination is potent and deadly because when they are at the top of their game the result is a winning brand of high scoring football. This was diminished to an extent last week because of their inaccuracy in front of goal in the second and third quarters but it’s unlikely that this will be repeated twice in a row.

Gawn was expected to face a two pronged Hawthorn ruck combination of McEvoy/Ceglar but the latter was dropped this week. In his absence, McEvoy has an unenviable task in stopping the Demons’ All-Australian big man.

The Hawks have a very handy mid in Tom Mitchell but will sorely miss Jaeger O’Meara against a mainly youthful Melbourne midfield that is multifaceted and deep in quality. Led by Nathan Jones and Jack Viney, the freakish young talent of Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and the up and coming sensation James Harmes with Dom Tyson and Alex Neal-Bullen in support, it’s hard to see a team that is placed 13th in clearances to overcome this combination.

That is not to say that the Hawks will be easy pickings. They have plenty of talent but the Demons have more and they have the momentum and confidence as they go into the game with an unchanged lineup.

Melbourne by 18 points

583355-tlslargelandscape.jpg

 

 

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