The only game on Friday for AFL Finals Week 3 is between Hawthorn Hawks and Geelong Cats. The match is to be played at MCG with the opening bounce set to commence at 7:50pm local time with home team Hawthorn Hawks currently holding favouritism in the market. View our AFL live scores, odds and results for the game between Hawthorn Hawks and Geelong Cats.
WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, 7:50pm AEST, Friday 20 September
Opening odds comparison:
After a long and tough year of AFL, the 2013 season has been reduced to just four teams. By the end of Saturday night there will be only two teams remaining, and after the finals series we’ve had so far, all four teams are in with a chance. In the first game this weekend, the Hawthorn Hawks take on the Geelong Cats, Friday 7.50pm at the MCG. The Hawks will be favourites to win here, having finished the regular season in top spot and keen to go one better than last year.
The Hawks haven’t been able to beat the Cats since the 2008 Grand Final, however, and that was a fair few years ago. Geelong finished the season in second position just behind Hawthorn, but will have to do without the rest that the Hawks enjoyed last weekend. The Cats are also missing some key players for this encounter, including long-time Hawthorn beaters Paul Chapman and Corey Enright. In contrast, the Hawks will see the return of their stars Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli.
There are a number of key match-ups to look forward to during this clash, including Lance Franklin vs Tom Lonergan. Hawthorn will need their star to break out for this one, with Franklin having been unusually quiet against the Cats during the last two seasons. Tom Hawkins vs Brian Lake will also be a top battle, and Cyril Rioli will also have an important role to play. While Rioli could prove crucial in this game, it has to be remembered that he hasn’t played in nearly four weeks.
All in all, the Hawks should have enough to finally overcome the Cats this Friday night, although it wont be easy. It’s much easier to overcome history than recent form, and the Cats are coming off a pretty patchy performance against Port Adelaide last weekend. No matter who wins here, however, the winning side will most likely take the status of favourite into the Grand Final against either Fremantle or Sydney.
B:B Stratton B Lake B Guerra
HB: S Burgoyne J Gibson G Birchall
C: I Smith S Mitchell J Hill
HF: L Breust L Franklin J Gunston
F: P Puopolo J Roughead C Rioli
FOLL: D Hale B Sewell L Hodge
I/C: J Lewis M Bailey B Whitecross L Shiels
EMG: M Spangher J Anderson K Cheney
IN: L Franklin C Rioli
OUT: M Spangher (omitted) J Anderson (omitted)
B:J Rivers T Lonergan J Hunt
HB: A Mackie, H Taylor J Bartel
C: J Kelly J Selwood M Stokes
HF: A Christensen N Vardy S Motlop
F: J Podsiadly T Hawkins J Caddy
FOLL: M Blicavs M Duncan S Johnson
I/C: J Corey C Guthrie J Murdoch T Varcoe
EMG: T Hunt S Kersten T West
IN: Caddy, Murdoch
OUT: Chapman (suspended), T Hunt (omitted)
AFL Hawks wary of Cats’ half-backs
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says Friday night’s AFL preliminary final will be a battle of defences as the Hawks attempt to shut down some of the greats of the game and end their 11-match curse against Geelong.
Clarkson has told his men their losing run against the Cats since the 2008 grand final counts for nothing and their MCG knockout clash will be about one thing – winning a place in next week’s grand final.
“Irrespective of what’s happened in the past … they just know the prize is enormous if you can get through this game,” Clarkson told reporters on Thursday.
“That’s pretty much what the focus for all our players will be.”
Four Geelong players were named this week in the 2013 All-Australian side and three of them – back pocket Corey Enright, centre half-back Harry Taylor and interchange player Andrew Mackie – are defenders.
Enright will miss Friday’s preliminary final with a knee injury, but Clarkson remains wary of Geelong’s defensive might.
Brownlow and Norm Smith Medallist Jimmy Bartel is another creative genius the Cats can use at half-back, although the Hawks have their own attacking flair in defence through the likes of Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell and play-making fullback Brian Lake.
The marking power of Lance Franklin, Coleman Medallist Jarryd Roughead and ruck/forward David Hale has the potential to stretch Geelong’s backline.
“Defence is without doubt the real strength of their side. We’re going to need to be smart with our ball use,” Clarkson said.
“It will all depend on the way we can control the ball. If we can do that well we can give ourselves a great chance to find some targets inside 50.”
Quizzed on Geelong’s potential weakness at ground level in attack if big Tom Hawkins plays despite an ongoing back problem, Clarkson says precision is the key.
“Whenever we win the ball in our back half, we try to find a target on the way out. It’s up to the Geelong side to try to stop that,” he said.
“Similarly when we go inside our own (forward) half, Geelong have got probably the most attacking half-back line in the competition.
“So it will come down to which team can probably defend those plays the best.
“Hopefully it’s us but we know it’s a significant challenge for us with the quality of the Geelong half-backs.”
Beaten grand finalists in 2012, Clarkson says the Hawks feel well-rested after a week off ahead of what he labels a heavyweight bout.
The minor premiers are set to regain Franklin from suspension and fellow forward Cyril Rioli, who hasn’t played since August 24 because of an ankle injury.