Published by Staff Writers, 13 Spetember 2018 on foxsports.com.au
IT’S crunch time.
And this week, a spot in the preliminary finals is on the line.
Can the Hawks end the Demons fairytale? And can the Giants upset the Pies?
Every club’s burning question ahead of the second week of September in The Blowtorch, plus the Fox Footy commentary teams.
Here is our ultimate preview for the two games ahead.
HAWTHORN v MELBOURNE
Friday 14 September, 7.50pm at the MCG
How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 7pm
Hawthorn’s burning question: Are the Hawks in very real danger of a straight-sets exit?
The Hawks capitalised on a fine run home to snare fourth spot when other teams fell over around them. But against Richmond, their struggles to deal with red-hot pressure were sorely exposed. Melbourne are the second-best side after the Tigers in the pressure and forcing-turnovers stakes. If the Hawks can get their slick ball movement working — and Tom Mitchell and co can seize control in the midfield — they’ll be confident of securing a preliminary final berth. But if Melbourne’s pressure starts to take its toll, the Hawks could face a straight-sets departure from September.
Melbourne’s burning question: Can the Demons avoid becoming their own worst enemy?
So many of Melbourne’s losses this year have largely been due to their own failure to clinch the big moments. That’s come in the form of poor goal kicking and conversion in periods of dominance, and letting close games slip through lapses of concentration.
But they seemed to have shaken some of those Demons in recent weeks. That clutch victory over West Coast in Perth released the shackles, before Melbourne overcame a sluggish start to put the Giants to the sword. Then, they vanquished the demons of their two heartbreaking losses to Geelong in the elimination final. But they’ll be acutely aware of that wasteful second quarter against the Cats — and how the Hawks would punish those turnovers. To repeat that quarter would spell disaster.
Tip: Melbourne by 23 points
COLLINGWOOD v GWS GIANTS
Saturday 15 September, 7.25pm at the MCG
How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 6.30pm
Collingwood’s burning question: What’s happened to Will Hoskin-Elliott?
The former Giant booted at least a goal in his first 13 games of the season and was a key figure in a revamped Collingwood forward line. But after kicking 13 goals in three games between Rounds 11 and 14, Hoskin-Elliott has dropped off severely. The mobile forward has been held goalless in his past four games, too. He suffered a knee injury back in July, but didn’t miss any games. Is this what’s behind his struggles — or has the Pie just dropped off?
GWS’ burning question: Can the Giants’ returning players spark a late-season fairytale?
There’s no doubting the quality of the players GWS have seen return in recent weeks. Toby Greene is a genuine game-changing star, while Zac Williams’ return makes he and Lachie Whitfield a terrifying combination off half-back. Meanwhile, Harry Himmelberg has emerged as a force up forward in recent weeks. Throw in Brett Deledio’s work — plus a potential return for Ryan Griffen — and there’s a whole lot of experienced quality. But will it be enough to overwhelm the impressive Pies? And Josh Kelly looms as a likely big out.
Tip: Collingwood by 11 points