There’s no doubt Hawthorn are the in-form team of the competition. Since they lost to Richmond their percentage has been astronomical in the vicinity of 240 and I think the way they totally dismantled Collingwood a fortnight ago and then Essendon just really showed the classy form they’re in.
They look a fearsome side at the moment. But strange things happen when Hawthorn and Geelong play. Since the 2008 grand final which the Hawks won, they haven’t really been able to salute over the Cats and I’ll be expecting an absolute blockbuster on Friday night.
There is speculation 'Buddy' will play, which would be a boost, but I don’t buy into the discussion that the Hawks are better off without him. Even though their form has been outstanding without 'Buddy', it would boost their pack even more if he was to come back.
It was funny a month or so ago all the cynics all came out again to say it was ‘the end of an era’ for the Cats, and time for them to write off the season and rebuild. But what they’ve done this year is remarkable. To debut ten new players and still maintain a really strong win/loss record and be fairly entrenched in the eight at this stage, is excellent.
Geelong's tackling intensity and their work around the ball has gone to another level. Tom Hawkins is very influential in the team. This season he’s been really solid, marking the ball well and the last couple of weeks he’s finally got his radar honed with his kicking.
For the Hawks Luke Hodge, the captain, will be a big factor. He played up forward last week and kicked five goals in three quarters. Where he will play remains to be seen but eventually as the weeks go on leading into the finals they will move him more into the midfield where he really sets up the play.
Good luck to whoever lines up against Cyril Rioli. He’s was arguably the best player on the field in his 100th game against Essendon last week. Rioli is finding more football and he does the miraculous things that no one can really shut down. But Geelong have used Taylor Hunt in a tagging, defensive role over this journey but I would expect Corey Enright to spend time on him. Those two have had great battles since the 2008 Grand Final. It’s a classic case of experience up against raw ability.
I think winning form is good form and I’m going to pick an upset for this game, the Cats to win by 3 points.