Sydney Swans: Second
Hawthorn Hawks: First
Sydney Swans: 11-4
Hawthorn Hawks: 12-3
Last five results
Sydney Swans: WLWLW
Hawthorn Hawks: WWWWW
Sydney Swans: $1.68 with CrownBet.com.au
Hawthorn Hawks: $2.20 with CrownBet.com.au
Sydney Swans: -6.5 ($1.90 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Hawthorn Hawks: +6.5 ($1.90 with Sportsbet.com.au)
WHAT a blockbuster Thursday night footy holds in store for AFL fans.
It’s the top two sides in the competition going head-to-head in a battle of the 2012 and 2015 grand finalists.
Those matches were split, one apiece, leaving plenty of bad blood between Hawthorn and Sydney.
The Swans were spurred into action after losing to the Western Bulldogs at the SCG two weeks ago, heading down to the Cattery and producing an inspired performance against Geelong last Friday.
Sydney led at every change, absorbing everything the Cats had to throw at them, including an 18-possession opening term from Patrick Dangerfield, to run out 15.8 (98) to 9.6 (60) winners.
After a tumultuous week when a family squabble was laid out in the media for all to see, Kieren Jack had an absolute monster.
In his 200th game, Jack was in everything with 24 possessions, 10 tackles and three goals in the 38-point win.
Every one of the Swans’ monstrous midfield made contributions, with Tom Mitchell leading the way with 33 disposals. Dan Hannebery had 31, Luke Parker 27 and Josh Kennedy 24.
With Lance Franklin playing up the ground, Sydney had 12 individual goalscorers, spreading the load with Dean Towers and Tom Papley booting two each.
The Hawks have won six in a row since they lost to the Swans in round nine and will be keen for a square-up on Thursday night.
Last Thursday, they held off a fast-finishing Port Adelaide to run out 22-point winners, 15.11 (101) to 12.7 (79).
Like a fine wine, skipper Luke Hodge just gets better, and he led the way for the Hawks with 29 possessions ahead of his midfield mates Sam Mitchell (28) and Jordan Lewis (25).
Cyril Rioli was back to his scintillating best with three goals, a feat emulated by key man Jack Gunston, while ruckman Jonathan Cellar had 24 hitouts to go with his two goals.
Are Sydney the Hawks’ bogey side?
They have certainly pushed them since losing that grand final and managed to beat them at their MCG fortress in round nine, 10.9 (69) to 7.13 (55).
But neither Hodge nor Mitchell played in that game, meaning the Hawks can expect a significant boost.
Both sides have a bevy of midfield stars in fine form, making for a smorgasbord of punting opportunities.
They each also have a number of players with the goal-kicking chops to boot a big bag.
It’s a game that promises so much and we hope it delivers. But it’s also tough to work out just who will clean up.
Hannebery has perhaps been the Swans’ best midfielder this season, with 10 games over 30 possessions. He has had over 30 in each of his past two games and took the Hawks to the cleaners in round nine with 33.
We’re backing him in to go big with 35 against the Hawks at $2.60 with Sportsbet.com.au.
Josh Kennedy only had 26 against the Hawks last time out, but he usually puts his former club to the sword whenever they meet. He averages 28 possessions against the Hawks, which is bettered only by his average against Brisbane.
At $1.57 to have more than 30 disposals, that’s just about a monty.
For the Hawks, Hodge has spent much of the season injured, but he has been superb since returning to action.
After disquiet about his future, the warrior is obviously on a mission to show he is not done with yet, collecting 28 and 29 disposals in his last two.
We reckon he can go one better and make it 30 against the Swans – a team he relishes playing against – at $2.20.
Most weeks we’d mark Mitchell down for 30, but we’re staying right away against the Swans. He averages just 22 against the Hawks’ arch-nemesis and simply cannot be trusted in this one.
In front of the big sticks, it’s hard to go past Jack Gunston for first goalscorer.
He played a lone hand in round nine, booting four of the Hawks’ seven goals, and is the man they look to most to provide scoreboard pressure. He is $11 to boot the first goal.
Ex-Hawk Lance Franklin has had middling success against his former club. While Buddy is always a danger at $6.50, we reckon Gary Rohan is worth a flyer at $18.
The speedy Swan booted three goals the last time these two teams met and, for some reason, the Hawks seem to struggle to find an answer to his lightning pace and silky skills.
Swans vs. Hawks player prop tips
All markets provided by Sportsbet
- Gary Rohan ($18)
- Lance Franklin ($6.50)
- Jack Gunston ($11)
- Josh Kennedy 30 or more ($1.57)
- Dan Hannebery 35 or more ($2.60)
- Luke Hodge 30 or more ($2.20)
Match result: Sydney Swans win ($1.68 with CrownBet.com.au)
Line betting: Sydney Swans -6.5 ($1.90 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Can the Hawks defeat the Swans and keep top spot? That’s the million dollar question.
There’s no doubt it can be done, but Sydney are in red hot form and will be very tough to beat on their home deck.
The red and white rarely lose back-to-back games at the Sydney Cricket Ground and, while we think they will be pushed by the Hawks, they should prevail in the end.
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