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Precise Hawks to cut Pies to shreds

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Real Footy finals: Hawthorn v Collingwood

It's finals time again and our expert panel of Robert Walls, Michael Gleeson and Martin Blake talk through all the ins and outs ahead of the clash between Hawthorn and Collingwood.

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THE hot and hungry Hawks should be too good for the mediocre Magpies. The Pies have dropped intensity, lost four of their past nine games and are far from firing on all cylinders. They have got problems in defence, attack, the ruck and you can question the motives of Brownlow medallist Dane Swan. The Hawks, on the other hand, are settled, in form, playing selfless football and have had two good final lead-ups against Sydney and West Coast.


Most of the Hawthorn players have played in most of the Hawks' games this season, so they are confident in, and predictable to, each other in the way they play. Best of all, they are coached to always put the team first.

AFL Finals week One Click for more photos

AFL Finals Team List: Week One

AFL Finals Team List: Week One 

Top-liners Luke Hodge, Brad Sewell and Jordan Lewis readily lock down on assigned opponents when directed to by the coach. Full-back Josh Gibson is prepared to leave his direct opponent to help out co-defenders with his strong, aggressive spoiling. Week-in, week-out, Liam Shiels will go all-out to negate one of the opposition's best midfielders. Last week it was Eagle Andrew Gaff. This week, perhaps Dayne Beams.

Up forward, the Hawks readily share to put a teammate in a better scoring situation. Five Hawks, Luke Breust, Lance Franklin, Lewis, Cyril Rioli and Sam Mitchell are in the top 15 ''score-assist'' players in the AFL.

Their ruck division is strong. David Hale does the bulk of the work, with Jarryd Roughead giving terrific support. Hale's mobility and marking strength means he can also play deep forward. Roughead, when moved into the ruck, gives the Hawks another midfielder, as he averages close to five clearances a game. It is a winning combination.

Too casual? Too carefree? Collingwood's Sharrod Wellingham.

Too casual? Too carefree? Collingwood's Sharrod Wellingham. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

At ground level, the Hawks have really picked up this season. After a slow start, they are ranked second for clearances behind the Crows, as Mitchell, Sewell and Lewis have come to the fore. But, above all, it's the elite kicking of the Hawks that makes them so dangerous. No team moves the ball as quickly and efficiently from one end of the ground to the other. The Hawks are No. 1 for kicking efficiency, short kicks and uncontested marks, which ties in with their preparedness to pull the trigger and fire bullet-like passes to any teammate in any space.


After a shaky start, the Pies got onto a roll and won 10 games on the trot. But over the past two months they have faltered. Their much-heralded midfield is a concern. Sharrod Wellingham's kicking efficiency rate is 52.3 per cent. It's a disgrace for someone of his talents. Too casual? Too carefree? Too content? Swan, who copped a two-match, club-imposed suspension for doing his own thing off field, is perhaps doing his own thing on field, too.

He averages more disposals a game (35.6) than anyone. But at what price? Has that become his focus? In the nitty-gritty stats of clearances, contested possessions and hard-ball gets, he isn't in the top 16. But he is top seven for handball receives and uncontested possessions. And Swan averages just 3.2 tackles a game, a long way down from North Melbourne skipper Andrew Swallow, who sets the benchmark of 7.2 a game.

Beams and Steele Sidebottom have had huge development seasons, but have trailed off in recent weeks, while Scott Pendlebury and Dale Thomas have had good but not great seasons. Darren Jolly has been solid, but not spectacular in the ruck and finding a back-up ruckman has been a nightmare for coach Nathan Buckley. Chris Dawes has been mediocre in that role, while Cameron Wood lacks mobility and presence.

Surely, we won't see Nick Maxwell rucking as we did last week. As a result, Collingwood has been a middle-of-the-road clearance team. This has put more pressure on the defence and given fewer opportunities to the forwards. With more and quicker ball going into the Magpie defence, Harry O'Brien and Ben Reid have been found wanting in one-on-one contests. The midfielders need to push back with greater urgency to help out, and the attacking Heath Shaw has had his wings clipped by having negating forwards like Lewis playing ultra-tight on him.

The Magpies finally dropped Dawes last week and Travis Cloke responded. Without Dawes he had to cover more ground as a lead-up forward, rather than predominantly being the full-forward, as he has been previously. It suits Cloke to motor. He took 16 marks, kicked five goals and, importantly, thumped the ball into the forward 50 seven times - twice his usual number. Dawes has been recalled, but the Pies don't need him in attack. Andrew Krakouer and Alan Didak will give a better return.


Cloke needs to fire for the Pies to win. Ryan Schoenmakers will get the job on the man-mountain, but he has to have support from Gibson and the rucks. If Cloke gets damaging, expect Hodge to position across half-back to put the squeeze on him. Swan may be allowed to run unchecked, as a lot of his disposals are meaningless. Pendlebury and Beams are more creative and may be tagged by Sewell and Shiels. Winning the clearances is all-important. If the Hawks get on top, quick ball to goalkickers Franklin, Breust, Rioli and Roughead will put unbelievable pressure on the Magpies defence. Expect Mitchell, Sewell, Hodge and Lewis to be kamikaze-like at the stoppages.

Over the season, the Hawks are No. 1 for inside-50s and the Pies are 11th. If the Hawks get on top with the clearances, the Pies may try to play an extra man in defence. If they do, I doubt Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson will allow that and will be prepared to play a seven-man forward line. The Hawks will spread wide when they gain possession and back their kicking skills. If the Pies drop off in accountability, they will be cut to pieces.


Rioli was eased into last week's game as a substitute. He looks ready to explode. He delivers the ball into the forward-50 area better than anyone. I doubt the Pies have a player who can control him. Pendlebury can be a creative genius. When ''on'', he has more time and space than any of his teammates and can control the tempo of games.


The Hawks to withstand an early burst of pressure and then pull away for a comfortable win.

Hawthorn by 30 points.

81 comments so far

  • Is this the opinion of the same Robert Walls who also provided such accurate insights as "I will be very surprised if the Cats get within five goals of the premiership favourites" (Hawthorn) or "Five reasons why Essendon can win the flag" ??

    Date and time
    September 07, 2012, 1:15AM
    • If Hawthorn meeting Geelong these finals I feel Hawthorn will win. Robert Walls will say 'I told you so'.

      Go Cats
      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 8:56AM
    • More Robert Walls exaggeration. Yes, Hawks have been the best performing side all season - but on talent there is not much difference between the Hawks, the Eagles, Pies and the Cats. Sydney and Adelaide are not far behind these 4 teams and are also in the running.

      In this article, Walls has put too much faith in a team that has only won only 1 more game than Collingwood all season. They are not unbeatable and he has been caught up in the hype. Yes, on form Hawthorn should win. But on talent these teams are very evenly matched.

      You cannot ignore how good Collingwood were last season. It is more or less the same team.

      If both teams are at their best, this is a 50-50 game. Collingwood have got to improve on recent results, but I expect them to. A class team cannot be down for too long, and usually raises its game for the finals.

      Deep Thinker
      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 9:57AM
    • Exactly. First thing I thought when I read this headline was, "Crap, the Collingwood might win!" Mr Walls has had a poor run with certainties this year.

      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 9:57AM
    • Another Jonah by Robert Walls?

      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 11:48AM
    • was it Hales 15 hit outs last week that impressed this fool so much. Robert walls is irrelevant

      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 1:25PM
  • Big questions is whether Cloke will stand-up; they will get 8-10 goals from other players but if the big fella can fire they're a shot to win. Hawks don't have the same problem if Franklin doesn't fire.

    Date and time
    September 07, 2012, 1:44AM
    • Surely the 'Pies won't be crazy enough to actually play Dawes. They removed him from the team and suddenly, as if by magic, Cloke started to take some marks in attack. Who knows why, but sometimes a pair of players lose their shared mojo and the team is better off with only one of them on the field. This is particularly true of forwards, as they only have to tread on each other's toes half a dozen times in a match to lose three or four goals and become ineffective. Expect four or more goals out of Cloke if he plays alone, or three or less out of Cloke and Dawes combined.

      The crazy thing is that Buckley only gave himself one week to test out this idea, because he was too scared of what might happen with Cloke's contract negotiations if he dropped him or Dawes. In other words, this might be the second season in a row where Collingwood's flag hopes are damaged by internal club politics, not by the quality of the cattle.

      Of course, as a Cats supporter I would much prefer to meet the Hawks in a preliminary final, where I would feel confident of victory, than a grand final, where we've lost the last two played against that team.

      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 9:14AM
    • @Robertito: Dawes needs to play out of the goalsquare as Paine did last week and make room for Cloke to lead. At least he's a better option (and I think undervalued) as a 2nd ruck. Let's hope its a good game.

      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 9:27AM
    • Collingwood also need a back-up ruckman. This is the reason why they have been reluctant to drop Dawes all year.

      Date and time
      September 07, 2012, 10:00AM

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AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
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Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
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Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
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Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
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AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 8 8 0 0 155.29 32
West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
Collingwood 8 5 3 0 129.90 20
Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
View all
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