Friday, July 3, 2015, 7.50pm AEST, Melbourne Cricket Ground, watch on Seven Network, Fox Footy
Ladder position: Fifth
Last five: WWWWL
Ladder position: Fourth
Last five: LWWWW
What a blockbuster Friday night football is serving up for us this week, with fourth taking on fifth in a good old fashioned tussle between two of the AFL’s most storied clubs.
And it’s good to see the Magpies competing again, with Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley pulling no punches about his side’s chances against back to back premiers Hawthorn ($1.27 with WilliamHill.com.au).
While his side doesn’t have the experience or clout of the more fancied – and recently very unsociable – Hawks, Bucks says his men will be up for the challenge on Friday night.
“If you want to sit on your heels, back up against the ropes and just be passive and take what’s coming there’s only one outcome to that,” Buckley said.
“So we need to show an intent, we need to be aggressive and we need to dictate our terms and we plan to do that against any opposition.
“I love the niggle, I love the aggression in the game.
“If it’s a mental thing or a physical thing or some form of enforcing your will on the opposition … I love it.
“The unsociable element is just saying that it’s not supposed to be a comfortable place for the opposition to be when you go out and play.”
Swingman Tyson Goldsack won’t suit up for the black and white this week and Ben Reid is still out, but Buckley says he has a wealth of talent to call upon, chiefly ruck man Brodie Grundy.
He said Sam Dwyer and Patrick Karnezis had put their hands up with strong VFL form and youngsters Matt Scharenberg, Jonathan Marsh and Darcy Moore were in the mix.
The Pies weren’t quite unsociable last week, but they were very gallant in falling to a narrow seven point defeat at the hands of top of the table Fremantle in Perth on a chilly Thursday night, 12.8 (80) to 11.7 (73).
The plucky Pies went into the three quarter time break all square with the Purple Haze, but just couldn’t hold them out, a bad miss from Jesse White the only score in the last 10 minutes of the match.
Young buck Taylor Adams outlined his potential with a massive 29 disposal performance, while the usual suspects in Dane Swan (26 touches) and Scott Pendledbury (25) were prolific. Adams and Swan both had seven tackles as the Pies’ relentless pressure left them only four short of three figures in that pressure category.
Alex Fasolo and Jamie Elliott, with two goals each, were the only multiple goal kickers for the Magpies.
“Internally on our measures and on the way we went about it, we think we are tracking in the right direction,” Buckley said.
“We are going about our footy the right way and we forced a pretty good side to dig deep to get a win.
“When they play in games like that they learn a bit about themselves, about the club they are involved in, about the AFL and the standard that is expected.
“We thought pretty much to the man we stood up and gave great effort.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the ultimate reward but there’s plenty of reward.
“For the players and the club and potentially the supporters to understand that they’ve got a group of young men, young leaders they can be proud of and that when they turn up and watch a game of footy we are going to play the way we play.
“There’s plenty to take out of it … we didn’t get the points and we move on to Hawthorn.”
If the Magpies thought that game was tough, it doesn’t get any easier with the reigning premiers – on a four game winning streak – visiting them at the MCG.
The Hawks are fresh off dealing with a plucky Essendon side that pushed them for the first half, before banging home 11 goals after the break to set up a 38 point win, 16.8 (114) to 11.10 (76).
The accumulator Sam Mitchell was at it again, racking up another 32 disposals and Liam Shiels had 28, while little man Paul Puopolo booted four goals, with three to Jack Gunston and Bradley Hill.
But it is versatile gun forward Jarryd Roughead, who had a massive 29 disposals to go with eight marks, seven tackles and a goal, who Buckley fears the most.
“Roughy, he plays deep, he plays high, he plays midfield, bit of wing, bit of fifth and sixth high forward, he is very mobile,’’ Buckley said.
“Probably the most dominant big man in the competition over the last five or six years in all his roles.
“So he is one that we are going to be challenged by, but if we start looking at one then we are going to miss the second, miss the third, miss the fourth and they bat pretty deep.
“It’s going to be a team focus on how we play and sharing the responsibility.’’
The Hawks have enjoyed plenty of dominance over the Pies in recent times, but if they’e going to continue that, they’ll need to do it without injured defender James Frawley, who dislocated his shoulder against the Bombers and will miss at least a month of footy after electing not to have season ending shoulder surgery.
Cult figure Matt Spangher looks to be his likely replacement, while Mitchell should be right after suffering a corkie in his leg.
And hey, if the Pies don’t win against the Hawks, there will still be plenty of fans up and about after word surfaced that Collingwood could well make a play for out of contract Adelaide Crows superstar Patrick Dangerfield.
Asking if the midfielder was a possibility, Magpies’ list manager Derek Hine did not address him specifically, but would only say “we’ve got room in the cap”.
Match winner: Hawthorn Hawks ($1.27 with CrownBet.com.au)
Line: Hawthorn Collingwood +25.5 ($1.91 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Nathan Buckley has never coached a Collingwood win over Hawthorn, the Hawks winning seven straight games since the 2011 preliminary final, by an average of 42 points. While it feels like they’re a better side than last year, we’re talking about the reigning premiers, who many believe are the best in the competition. But it feels like the Pies, fresh off a superb, but ultimately losing effort against the Dockers, will have something similarly special to serve up to the Hawks under the Friday night lights. When we previewed the Dockers-Pies game, we didin’t give the black and white much chance of coming away with the points, but we did believe they would work at it all the way and we’re expecting much of the same against the Hawks. We’re tipping a closely fought contest, with the Hawks pulling away in the last term. And, hey, anything is better than the 65 point thrashing the Pies were handed when they last played the Hawks in round 23 last season.
First goal scorer tips
Travis Cloke ($8 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Yes, again. Big Clokey loves to feast on the Hawks and, with Frawley out, it will be left to the terrible twosome Josh Gibson and Brian Lake to try and curtail him. He booted 12 goals in two matches, before being held scoreless against the Dockers last week. It’s not often that happens and we’re expecting the hulking forward to come out breathing fire. With the Pies improved run and carry, they’ve managed to deliver it to their spearhead better this season and, while that will be more difficult against the battle hardened Hawks, Cloke is still capable of kicking a big back and more than capable of slotting the first one that goes through the big sticks.
Dane Swan ($21 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Spending more time in the guts these days after getting free reign in the forward line earlier this season, Swan is still as dangerous as there is running around today when he gets near the big sticks. He hasn’t managed to even boot a goal in the past two weeks, but we’re hoping he gets named closer to the 50 than up the ground, giving him a chance to slide into the pocket or onto the flank, fly under the radar (if that’s possible for a man covered in tattoos who is in the top five most recognised footballers alive) and slot the first of the night at very tasty odds.
Paul Puopolo ($15 with Sportsbet.com.au)
What an inspiration this little character is. Mighty Mouse Paul Puopolo might not be tall, but he’s squeezing every inch of talent he can out of himself for the flying Hawks. He booted four goals last week in the Hawks’ vanquishing of the Bombers and we always think good form is a strong guide. He loves to fly for a big mark, but really does his best work when the ball hits the deck, or when he can sneak out the back of the opposing defence and grab themselves a cheap one.
Luke Hodge ($26 with Sportsbet.com.au)
We’ve gone for what you might call a couple of hail Mary’s, but the fact of the matter is, this market is always a speculative one, with just about every bloke on the pitch a chance to kick the first goal, given the way AFL football is played these days. Hodge is actually a master of reading situations. When do I go forward? When do I drop back? Should i go into the guts? He’s one of the best players in the AFL and a jack of all trades capable of turning his hand to just about anything. Generally kicks a goal in every game and would probably need something special to happen for him to be the first, but, as we’ve always said, strange things happen in AFL football. Good luck to the skipper and anyone who chooses to wager on him.
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