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Finals preview: Hawthorn v Geelong

Hawthorn's Brian Lake will have a big role to play against Geelong.

Hawthorn's Brian Lake will have a big role to play against Geelong. Photo: Getty Images

Second qualifying Final

Hawthorn vs Geelong

Friday, 7.50pm, MCG

Selection table

Brian Lake and Steve Johnson will be the big stories this week. Hawthorn maintains Lake only corked his hip when he hobbled off against Collingwood. He is so crucial. How much Tom Hawkins can expose the Hawks defence when Lake is not playing was plain to see in round five when "the Tomahawk" monstered an undersized back line with five goals and 10 marks. Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge, defender Ben Stratton and Brad Hill will come back in after sitting out against the Magpies. But Matt Suckling might not recover from his knee injury in time, which would stifle Hawthorn's counter-attacking forays. The Cats will also recall key players who were rested from the big win over the Brisbane Lions on Saturday night - Allen Christensen and Steve Motlop. Geelong hopes Johnson - who has missed three games with a foot injury - will be able to train pain-free this week and then play. Johnson has a history of getting up to play when it matters. From a team balance point of view, the decision on who partners Hawkins as the second key forward will be another interesting angle. Hamish McIntosh is likely to come back in and play as a ruck-forward, so there might only be one spot left for one of Shane Kersten, Mitch Brown and Josh Walker. Brown and Walker were serviceable against the Lions.

2014 clashes

Round 5: Geelong 15.16 (106) d Hawthorn 12.15 (87), at the MCG.

The Cats kicked six goals in the last quarter to outlast the Hawks, who threatened to steal a game played at finals-like intensity. Hawkins grabbed all the headlines, but Johnson's three goals and 34 disposals were just as valuable.

Round 22: Hawthorn 14.10 (94) d Geelong 11.5 (71), at the MCG

It still had all the hallmarks of another Cats-Hawks classic, but this time it was the Hawks who ran away with it, turning a 33-point, third-term deficit into a 23-point victory with a remarkable comeback.

Who will win and why

How do you go against the Hawks when they just beat the Cats so recently? Then again, how do you go against the Cats in any game against the Hawks? The round 22 battle was intriguing. Geelong seemed to deconstruct the Hawks in the first half and then just stopped. Yet coach Chris Scott was unusually positive considering the result. He obviously liked what he saw and the Cats know what they are doing at this time of the year. Are they timing their run perfectly again? The Hawks have plenty in their favour, including an extra day's break, and know a thing or two about getting it right in September as well. What the Cats can produce forward of centre to offset the consistency of Jack Gunston, Jarryd Roughead and co could go a long way to deciding this one.

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