Friday, July 24, 2015, 7.50pm AEST, Etihad Stadium, watch on Seven Network, Fox Footy
Carlton Blues: 16th
Hawthorn Hawks: Third
Carlton Blues: 3-12-0
Hawthorn Hawks: 11-4-0
Last five games
Carlton Blues: WWLLL
Hawthorn Hawks: WWWWW
JUST give the Hawks the flag now.
That’s the sentiment around the AFL after Hawthorn manhandled yet another so called premiership fancy in Sydney last week.
And, after pasting Fremantle the week before, the Hawks were smashed in from $3 to $2.30 to win the flag at Sportsbet.com.au.
The two time defending premiers opened at $2.38 after the 2014 Grand Final and were paying $4 ahead of round one. They got out to as much as $4.35 after a slow start to the season.
“We’re now holding more money on Hawthorn to win the flag than Fremantle and Sydney combined,” the bookie’s Christian Jantzen said.
The Hawks haven’t lost since the Swans beat them in round seven, giving them seven wins on the trot, heading in to a match against a side that has won just three games for the season and dropped its last three.
The Blues have, however, been more competitive since John Barker replaced deposed coach Mick Malthouse and managed to put up fights against the Western Bulldogs, Richmond and Fremantle in the last three weeks.
They were never going to get the Dockers in Perth, but they at least had a red hot crack, with just 21 points in it at three quarter time, before they ran out of legs and the purple haze kicked into gear, holding the Blues score less in the final term in a 13.17 (95) to 8.5 (53) result.
Ed Curnow had perhaps his best game for the Blues, nagging 32 disposals with eight marks and eight tackles, Marc Murphy had 29 possessions and Sam Docherty 27, but it was Simon White who won praise for his stopping job on Freo’s midfield monster Nat Fyfe, holding the Brownlow Medal favourite to just 23 touches.
“We just thought Whitey, he is one of those players (who) when you give him a job he does everything he can to get it right,” interim coach Barker said.
“He’s got character and he’s got a big body too, which we think helped him.
“He got a lot of help from his teammates and what you get to realise very quickly is against a team like Fremantle … you can’t beat them by just stopping one player.”
Tom Bell was the only multiple goal scorer for there Blues.
They’ll face a Hawthorn side two weeks removed from a 72 point drubbing of the Dockers in Tassie, and a week after smashing last year’s beaten grand finalist’s Sydney by 89.
The Hawks travelled to Sydney and were simply sublime, smoking the Swans off ANZ Stadium in a dominant 23.8 (146) to 7.15 (53) result.
Inspirational captain Luke Hodge was at his brilliant best with another 30 disposals, with eight marks and seven tackles, with some hailing his past two performances as good as any other in his career.
Accumulator Sam Mitchell had a “quieter” game for him, with another lazy 28 disposals and Grant Birchall returned to form with 27 roaming across half back.
Spearhead Jarryd Roughead, back in action after having cancerous melanoma cells removed from his face earlier this month, booted five goals and played like he hadn’t missed a beat, despite sporting a large adhesive protective cover on his face for the duration on the match.
Jack Gunston found his radar with four goals and Cyril Rioli did several Cyril-like things on his way to three goals and 20 touches.
Coach Alistair Clarkson doesn’t want his charges to get ahead of themselves and wheeled out the old ‘one week at a time’ cliche.
“We’ve won the last two titles and that means there’s some pressure that comes with that, and I’d like to think that our players and our club are level headed enough to cope with that,” Clarkson said.
“We just play each week as it comes before us, we know that our goal at the start of the year was to finish in the top four and we’re just happy that we’re adding up the wins and hopefully get ourselves in a good position by round 23 to have a good shot at it.
“You don’t win Grand Finals in July, we’ve got to be playing our best footy in September.
“We’re pleased that over the past couple of weeks that we’ve been able to account for two really, really strong opponents, who we have enormous regard for.”
The Blues are the complete opposite of a “really strong opponent” but will have a little bit to play for as skipper Murphy celebrates his 200th game.
The Blues have no key injured men on the way back, with the likes of Andrew Walker and Nick Graham still sidelined, so they will have to continue to rely on kids like Bell and Rising Star favourite Patrick Cripps to fly the flag.
Meanwhile, as if the Hawks needed to get any better, they will welcome back fleet footed midfielder Bradley Hill and could go with Premiership players Taylor Duryea and Will Langford, who have both recovered from injury.
And, if that wasn’t enough, key defender James Frawley will also come under consideration after he missed several weeks with a dislocated shoulder.
Match Winner: Hawthorn wins ($1.01 with CrownBet.com.au)
Margin bet: Hawthorn by 40 or more ($1.22 with WilliamHill.com.au)
The Blues haven’t beaten Hawthorn in their last six tries at Etihad Stadium and that isn’t about to change here. In fact, they haven’t beaten Hawthorn in 10 years! The hammerings the Hawks have handed out to Sydney and Fremantle in consecutive weeks are an ominous sign. But this game could be one of those let down ones where the Hawks never get out of first gear and still win by eight goals. We’re going with the over 39.5 to actually give punters a little bit of value with their bet, but we’re staying away from the 66.5 point line. On form, the Hawks should be able to cover that, but they will find it harder to motivate themselves to produce the type of football they’ve done in the past fortnight against a clearly inferior opponent. And hey, if you’re a big spender and want to get something slightly better than bank interest, the $1.01 about the Hawks is about as certain as you can get in footy.
David Parkin Medal tips
Marc Murphy ($15 with CrownBet.com.au)
Congratulations to Murphy for 200 games of tough, hard uncompromising footy… Ok, we may be being a little bit harsh, but he’s always carried a knock for being a bit soft, but 200 games by any player means you have plenty of staying power. Murphy on has day is a beautiful user of the footy and finds plenty of it and is the sort of silky skilled player that could attract the attention of the David Parkin Medal judges. It’s obviously hard for him, especially considering his side is on a hiding to nothing, but if he pulls out a special effort, say 40 disposals and a bunch of tackles in his 200th game, who knows how the voters will look at it. Regularly collects the most touches for the Blues and, if they somehow pull of a miracle, you can just about guarantee Murphy will be front and centre.
Patrick Cripps ($26 with CrownBet.com.au)
From a 200 gamer in the prime of his career to a classy kid still learning his craft. There are no such “soft” knocks on this midfield steamroller. Cripps is as tough as an overcooked steak and may already be the Blues’ best midfielder. Has been a bit quieter in the past month, but would do himself plenty of favours by having a big one against what many believe is the best team – and midfield – in the AFL. The Rising Star elect could kick off his rookie of the year party by snaring the David Parkin Medal. It is a long shot, but stranger things have happened.
Luke Hodge ($6.50 with CrownBet.com.au)
This guy is like a fine wine. He just gets better with age. Some believe he is having a better season than the monster he produced in 2008 and it’s hard to argue. Hodge looks as fit as he’s ever been and, at 31, is averaging a career high 28 disposals. Had a lazy 30 touches against the Swans last week, on the back of a 31 touch game against the Dockers and 29 against the Magpies. He’s in rare form. Hodge is as inspirational as they come and was really made to win medals, testament to the Norm Smith he owns from last year’s grand final. He could run rampant against a Blues side that really has no answer to the Hawthorn hard man.
Jarryd Roughead ($9 with CrownBet.com.au)
Speaking of having no answers, who is going to play on Roughead, the full forward cum midfielder cum ruckman who might just be the most versatile player in the game? A bag of five goals on his return last week followed a 29 possession effort against Essendon in round 13. Also averaging a career high 18 disposals – remarkable for a guy who spends most of his time on the ground in a key forward post. The surgery to remove the cancerous melanoma cells has given him no trouble and he is all but guaranteed to give the Carlton defenders – or midfielders – fits. Only has 29 snags this year, a far cry from the 75 he booted last season, but you really sense he might feel this is a chance for him to really swell the coffers, on the back of his goal kicking form of last week.
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