AFL First Preliminary Final: Collingwood v Hawthorn Betting Preview – Friday, 23 September, 2011. When and Where: 7.45pm at MCG
Collingwood – 95
Hawthorn – 56
Draws – 0
Last Time They Met:
Collingwood 15.16 (106) defeated Hawthorn 9.11 (65), Round 15, 2011 at the MCG
Collingwood – WWWLW
Phew – the only word that was on the lips of Collingwood supporters after the first week of the finals.
Despite having 113 more disposals, 22 more clearances and 22 more marks, the Magpies only defeated West Coast by 20 points. However they can thank their two best midfielders in Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury for the victory. Swan didn’t stop working all game, finishing with 43 touches, nine clearances, nine inside 50’s and a goal, while Pendlebury had 38 touches and six tackles. Harry O’Brien was also instrumental off half-back, keeping Mark LeCras quiet while also repeatedly driving his team forward with penetrating kicks. Heath Shaw gathered 30 touches and 10 marks in his first game back from an eight-week suspension.
Hawthorn – WWWLW
Hawthorn saved itself from the ultimate embarrassment last weekend with a solid victory over Sydney.
The Hawks avoided a straight sets exit with a 36-point victory over a gallant Swans outfit. It was the Hawks’ first finals victory since they beat Geelong in the 2008 Grand Final. Josh Gibson played the game of his life, recording an AFL-record 21 spoils and was domineering in shutting down all six opponents he played on throughout the night – including Adam Goodes. Star forward Lance Franklin, who went into the game under an injury cloud, kicked three goals in the final term to seal the game and, most importantly, laid six tackles. The Hawks’ two gun leaders in Luke Hodge (27 touches and one goal) and Sam Mitchell (29 touches) were also influential.
Ben Reid received All-Australian selection during the week after a remarkable season. The 22-year-old has done it all in 2011, both one-on-one with his opponent and with footy in hand. Reid is ranked third in the competition for marks and first in the competition for marks from opposition kicks. He reads the game so well and never seems to get out-marked or beaten in the air. Reid is perhaps the best tall defender in the game at present, meaning he might be the best man to play on Lance Franklin, perhaps the best tall forward in the game at present, on Friday night.
Jordan Lewis is perhaps the most underrated asset in Hawthorn’s hard-bodied midfield. The 25-year-old worked tirelessly for the Hawks at stoppages against Sydney last weekend, winning an equal team-high seven clearances. Lewis is ranked eighth in the competition for goal assists and has given the Hawks’ ruckmen fantastic support this season, averaging just over three hit-outs per game as the third-man up this season. Don’t be surprised to see him play on Luke Ball or Scott Pendlebury on Friday night in an attempt to restrict their influence.
Collingwood Team Changes:
IN – Dale Thomas and Ben Reid
OUT – Alex Fasolo and Tyson Goldsack
Hawthorn Team Changes:
When these two sides last met in Round 15 this season, Collingwood won by 41 points. But things have changed dramatically since then – for both teams.
Over their past two games, the Pies have shown they are a tad vulnerable. Before their unconvincing loss to West Coast, they copped a 98-point thumping from Geelong in Round 22. Perhaps they’re not as invincible as we originally thought.
And it’s clear the Hawks have improved dramatically too. Since Round 15, they have won nine of their past 10 games. They’ve returned to their unsociable best, while also perfecting their short kick game plan at the same time.
The recent statistics between these two sides are fascinating. Hawthorn has defeated Collingwood in five of the past seven matches. However the Pies’ loss in Round 22, 2010 was a dead rubber – and it may have been a win if Dayne Beams had kicked straight late in the game.
The Pies certainly needed the week off to recover, because several players have been carrying injuries during the latter stages of the season. Nick Maxwell (thumb), Leon Davis (hamstring), Ben Reid (groin) and Chris Tarrant (ankle) are among the players to have struggled and all will benefit from the rest. And Dale Thomas will come back into the side after a two-week suspension.
But there’s no doubt the Hawks will give this one a red-hot crack. In 2008, they proved they have no fear against the top sides when they beat the Cats in the Grand Final.
Tactically, it’ll be a fascinating battle: Collingwood’s fearsome forward press against Hawthorn’s keepings off.
For the Hawks to win, they must control the tempo of the game and deny the Pies’ runners, such as Swan, Thomas, Shaw and O’Brien, the chance to move the ball quickly into Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes up forward. They must also win the clearances and contested ball in the midfield, which will allow them to pump the footy deep inside forward 50 to Franklin and Cyril Rioli.
However, you simply can’t tip against Collingwood, who has clearly been the best team all season.
The Magpies have the Hawks covered in the most important area of the ground – down back. Against the Cats, Gibson, Ryan Schoenmakers and company looked susceptible to the high ball. But the likes of Ben Reid, Chris Tarrant and Maxwell work so well as a group that they never look vulnerable in defence. Between them, they’ll be able to curtail Franklin’s influence.
And the Pies should be too good in the midfield. Swan, Pendlebury and Luke Ball are all in their best form of the season. Add Thomas back into the mix on Friday night, and you’ve got a damn good centreline.
Hawthorn will challenge Collingwood, but expect the latter to have a little too much class.
Best Head-To-Head Bet:
Collingwood by 1-24 ($3.40 – Sportsbet)
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Other Suggested Bets:
First Goal Scorer – Travis Cloke on Sportingbet