Hawthorn v Sydney Friday 7.50pm AEST at MCG, Melbourne
Hawthorn are working their way into the season, and have followed up their 75 point defeat at the hands of GWS with two authoritative wins over Richmond and Fremantle, admittedly not the strongest opposition.
Sydney’s recent form has been somewhat indifferent, with a close win over the lowly Lions, an eventual comfortable win over Essendon even though it took them three quarters to shake them off, and an after-the-siren loss to Richmond.
Hawthorn lead the last 10 matches between the two teams 7-3, with the Hawks also having a 4-2 record at the SCG in this time. Clarkson leads Longmire 9-4 in their head to head battles.
In 11 matches at the MCG since the start of 2013 Sydney are 27% ATS, the worst record there of any team in this time. Hawthron has won 33 of 41 at the venue in the same time period, at 9% POT and 59% ATS. Against non-Victorian sides, the Hawks are 13 wins from 14, at 44% POT and 64% ATS.
In the last five matches between the two, the leading possession winner has been either Daniel Hannebery or Jordan Lewis.
On the field Hawthorn will be bolstered by the return of Cyril Rioli after he missed last week’s clash with Fremantle to be with an ill family member in the Northern Territory. Daniel Howe was omitted to make way for the star small forward.
Sydney made three powerful changes for the blockbuster clash, headlined by the return of midfielder Josh Kennedy after he recovered from a hamstring injury.
Ben McGlynn overcame a leg problem while Gary Rohan will play for the first time in 2016 after fighting off a serious hamstring injury suffered in the off-season. The Swans will be without Dean Towers (omitted), Jack Hiscox (omitted) and Tom Papley (shin).