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Where: Melbourne Cricket Ground
When: 7.40am (BST)
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Melbourne coach Paul Roos questioned his side’s mentality after their fourth quarter collapse against Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium last week, so I’m expecting them to put up much more of a fight on Saturday.
With the returning Isaac Smith and Sam Mitchell, Hawthorn should quite easily dismantle the young Demons side struggling in the latter part of the season.
The injury to forward Jack Gunston will cause Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson some issues in the lead in to the finals, but even without him the Hawks will have far too much class for the Dees.
The Hawks will be looking for an all-important percentage-booster here as there is very little to separate between themselves and Sydney at the AFL summit.
1. Hawthorn has dominated Melbourne over a long period, winning the past 10 matches since 2007 with an average winning margin of 50 points. Since they last defeated the Hawks, Melbourne has had seven senior coaches (including Paul Roos).
2. The Hawks shouldn’t have too many issues winning the centre clearances – they are ranked second at 13.3 per game; in contrast the Demons are 18th at 9.4 per game. It will also be 1 v 18 in total clearances.
3. Hawthorn’s recent domination of the Demons means they now hold an 82-74 advantage in head-to-head contests.
4. This will be a battle the best and worst inside 50 sides in 2014 – Hawthorn is ranked first, averaging 57.3 per game; Melbourne is last with only 40.7 per game.
5. Hawthorn continues to be the best team in 2014 for goalkicking accuracy with 305 goals, 207 behinds for a 57.3 per cent return. Wests Coast is next, but at 50.9 per cent is well behind the Hawks.
6. Hawk Shaun Burgoyne remains the No.1 small/medium defender according to the Official AFL Player Ratings.