North Melbourne v Hawthorn
Etihad Stadium, Friday July 4, 7:50pm AEST
The opening game of Round 16 sees a clash of two teams who couldn’t have had more contrasting results last weekend, top of the ladder Hawthorn versus 7th placed North Melbourne.
The Hawks come off a strong win over the Gold Coast Suns at Aurora Stadium. In a game that was competitive for much of the first half the Hawks put their foot on the gas just before half time and blew the Suns away, scoring 57 points straight without the Suns hitting the scoreboard at one point. The only negative to come out of the game was yet another serious hamstring injury to star small forward Cyril Rioli, who looks set to miss at least the next 2 months.
The Hawks will however this week welcome back former skipper Sam Mitchell from his own serious hamstring injury, and perhaps most importantly coach Alistair Clarkson who has missed the past 5 weeks with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Fill in coach Brendan Bolton will go back to his regular role as bubbly assistant with something not too many people can boast – an undefeated record; having gone 5-0 as the senior coach.
Despite 5 goals after returning from injury for Box Hill two weeks ago, ruckman Ben McEvoy was surprisingly only named as an emergency due to the excellent form of former Magpie Jonathon Ceglar.
The Kangaroos meanwhile come off a demoralizing loss to the struggling Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, putting at risk their position within the top 8. It was a poor performance against the Lions, made worse by a confrontation between Brent Harvey and Tom Rockliff after the siren, with Brad Scott also having his say to Rockliff during a presentation to retiring Lion champion Jonathon Brown. It drew further negative commentary to what was a very disappointing night for the club.
The Kangas have a bad habit of dropping games they should win, but have this season defeated all of Port Adelaide, Sydney and Fremantle so would go into the game against the Hawks giving themselves a chance to pull off another upset. They must be an incredibly frustrating team to follow, capable of beating the best and losing to the worst from week to week.
Coach Brad Scott has lost faith with 3 players. Max Warren, Aaron Mullett and Brad McKenzie all being omitted from last weeks team, while Jack Ziebell adds to a growing North injury list, missing with a knee injury.
While North Melbourne will consider themselves a chance I can’t see them challenging the Hawks, who are looking very intimidating as September approaches. North will be trying hard to contain the rampant Hawthorn midfield, while Drew Petrie and Aaron Black will need to fire up forward for them to have any hope. Stranger things have happened and this is exactly the kind of game the Kangaroos will get up for, but the Hawks should win comfortably.
Our Prediction : Hawthorn by 28 points
Last Time They Met :
Hawthorn 17.15 (117) defeated
North Melbourne 15.13 (103)