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AFL Semi Final Hawthorn Hawks v Adelaide Crows : Three big questions to answer

The second weekend of the 2015 AFL finals kicks off with a Friday night, MCG blockbuster between the reigning champion Hawthorn and the resilient Adelaide.
With two attacking teams facing off with everything on the line, the potential is there for a memorable final - but with so much to play for, what are the three key questions that need answering?
The answers to these queries will likely decide the winner, who will soon be on its way to Perth for a preliminary final against Fremantle.


Are the Hawks still hungry?

Funnily enough, no one was asking this a couple of months ago when the reigning premiers were riding an eight-game winning streak.
Over the course of one week in July, the Hawks thumped fellow top-four sides Fremantle and Sydney by a combined margin of 161 points.
Such was their dominance that one prominent online bookmaker decided to pay out punters who had backed them for the flag.
Since then their odds have drifted from even money to $3.50.
Richmond and Port Adelaide exposed a chink in their armour with home and away victories attained by controlling the tempo through possession. Then West Coast enhanced their sense of vulnerability with last week's comprehensive qualifying final victory. Hawthorn's side featured five players aged 31 or older, including its skipper Luke Hodge who went into the match under the cloud of a drink-driving charge.
All of a sudden there are questions about whether the Hawks still have the drive to remain at the top.
"It's hard to be there every season," noted club great Jason Dunstall this week.
"People call it hunger. Whether they can find their best on the weekend and maybe the couple of weeks to come remains to be seen."

Will the Crows defy history?

Let's start with the positives.
Since Scott Camporeale took over in the most trying of circumstances, Adelaide has boasted the most potent attack in the league.
The Crows' 110.2 points per game since round 15 just shades Hawthorn's average, which has ranked second in the competition with 109.3. Both clubs have had 7-3 win-loss count during that period.
But the Hawks will be buoyed by their recent record against their feathered foes. They have won their past five encounters with the Crows, including their last meeting at the MCG in the 2012 Preliminary Final. That was one of 16 finals they've played at the home of football under Alastair Clarkson.
Also counting in Hawthorn's favour is the fact that no team finishing out of the top six has won a semi under the current finals system. Adelaide was seventh at the completion of the home and away season.

Can Hawthorn cover the loss of Jack Gunston?

As if the 32 point losing margin wasn't bad enough, the sight of Jack Gunston ending the qualifying final on the bench with ice strapped to his right ankle and knee would have been a demoralising blow to Hawks' fans.
The former Crow has had another outstanding year in the brown and gold, leading the club's goalkicking with 53 majors.
However one of Hawthorn's greatest strengths over the past couple of seasons has been its even contribution across the board.
During 2013, as Clarkson began to prepare his side for life without Lance Franklin, he reduced its reliance on individuals. Since then its forward-line has evolved into a multi-headed hydra: cut off one head and two more grow back in its place.
"We haven't relied on one player all year," said Jarryd Roughead, who along with teammate Luke Breust has kicked 45 goals this season.
"It's not like we have a one man or two man forward line. It hasn't been like that for the past couple of years. With Gunners not playing, I dare say someone will come in and just play their role."


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