Geelong’s clash with Hawthorn on Friday night is set to be another blockbuster.
Two evenly matched teams who have a history of close encounters. In fact, 12 of their previous 22 games have been decided by less than two kicks.
Last year they shared the spoils with the Cats prevailing on Easter Monday and the Hawks in Round 18.
The Cats are chasing their first win of the season after an opening round defeat against the Giants, while the Hawks will be gunning for two in a row.
With a close game on the cards, we predict some of the key matchups and how they could impact the result on Friday night.
Tom Hawkins v James Frawley
Who will forget the goal after the siren from Hawkins in round 19, 2012. He’s had many influential moments against the Hawks since making his AFL debut in 2008.
Hawkins’ record against the Hawks speaks for itself. He has kicked 43 goals and taken more contested marks (51) than against any other team across his career.
In Frawley he faces a challenging prospect and Hawkins’ ability to halve each contest at the worst will be important to help the likes of Gryan Miers, Tom Atkins and Gary Ablett craft out chances on goal.
Patrick Dangerfield v Tom Mitchell
They may not line-up directly on one another, but each have the ability to dominate the game and be match winners in their own right.
Dangerfield loves the big occasion and the scene will be setup for him perfectly on Friday night when he plays game 250. The shortened 16-minute quarters should suit his explosive style.
Mitchell may not capture the eye as Dangerfield does, but he is so effective at extracting the football from congestion and feeding his outside midfielders with aplomb.
Between them they have two Brownlow Medals, nine All Australians and five best and fairest awards.
Small Cats Backs v Crumbing Hawks
Hawthorn’s small forwards were influential against the Lions in Round 1 with Luke Breust and Chad Wingard combining to kick six goals. Add in Paul Puopolo and they have a trio capable of kicking a winning score.
Restricting their influence will be crucial for the Cats and it was no surprise to see Jed Bews recalled to the team for this exact reason. He may not rack up too many possessions, but what he does better than most is shutdown the opposition’s most dangerous small forwards.
Bews alongside the rapidly improving Mark O’Connor and fellow leadership group member Zach Tuohy will each play an important role in helping restrict Hawthorn’s potent small forwards, while providing plenty of attack off half back.