Hawks, Cats renew great AFL rivalry

The AFL’s greatest modern rivalry is back where it matters most, with Geelong playing Hawthorn in the finals.

Their previous 19 games makes Friday night’s qualifying final at the MCG the most intriguing clash of the weekend.

The Cats’ strong finish to the regular season means they are the slight favourites, but form is irrelevant.

The three-time defending premiers are guaranteed to be ready, given it is the finals and the opposition is Geelong.

Between them, Hawthorn and Geelong have won seven of the last nine premierships.

Their rivalry started when the Hawks upset the Cats to win the 2008 premiership.

The loss infuriated Geelong and their players made a private pact never to lose to Hawthorn again.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett then claimed before their next match at the start of the 2009 season that Geelong lacked his team’s mental drive.

Geelong won the next 11 matches and the streak became known as the Kennett Curse.

It only ended once Kennett had resigned as Hawks president.

Hawthorn beat Geelong by five points in the 2013 preliminary final and a week later, took out the first of their three-straight premierships with the grand final win over Fremantle.

In 2014-15, the Hawks had built a five-game winning streak over the Cats.

But that was snapped in round one this year when Patrick Dangerfield made the mother of all club debuts.

The former Adelaide star racked up 43 possessions for Geelong in their 30-point win.

“He’s a great player but … they’ve got enormous depth through the middle of the ground,” said Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson.

“It’s no secret that it’s going to be a key battle for the contest.

“If we can get enough supply in that part of the ground then we give ourselves a chance.

“But in the only game we’ve played this year they’ve won that battle and it cost us the game.”

Hawthorn have regained Ben Stratton and Ben McEvoy, while Geelong recalled Scott Selwood for a likely stopping role on Sam Mitchell.

Forecast rain on Friday could also force a late change or two.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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