IT IS one of the most pivotal games of the season and a match neither team can afford to lose.
Saturday afternoon’s clash between Hawthorn and Geelong at the MCG is a huge AFL blockbuster — and the only place you can see it live on TV is on FOX FOOTY.
The key area of the ground for both teams is the looming midfield battle between some of the best players in the competition.
Special extended pre-game show live and exclusive from the MCG at 1pm. The only place on TV to watch the game: FOX FOOTY (channel 504 on Foxtel).
Hawthorn (5th) vs Geelong (9th)
WHERE AND WHEN?
First bounce at 1.45pm (AEST) on Saturday August 11 at the MCG
HOW CAN I WATCH ON TV?
The only place to watch the game on TV is on FOX FOOTY (Channel 504 on Foxtel). There will be a special extended pre-game show, live and exclusive from the MCG, kicking off at 1pm (AEST) in the lead-up to the big game. Sarah Jones with Eddie McGuire, Dwayne Russell, Jonathan Brown, Brad Johnson, Cameron Mooney, Dermott Brereton and David King will guide you through all the action.
Get the Foxtel Sports Pack — call 1300 300 707 or tap here to start streaming immediately on the Foxtel app while you wait for your connection.
Hawthorn $2.25 — Geelong $1.65
THE BURNING QUESTION: Do the Cats really have the better midfield?
Geelong boasts three of the competition’s biggest stars in Gary Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, while Mitch Duncan still seems to be underrated and first-year midfielder Tim Kelly has been shining light in the middle of the ground.
But the Hawks have the Brownlow Medal favourite (Tom Mitchell), arguably the most underrated on-baller in the game (Liam Shiels), a man in scintillating form (Jaeger O’Meara) and a first-year player who looks like he’s been already playing for five or six years.
It looms as a fascinating match-up between two A-grade midfield brigades on paper.
But considering recent form, who would you take?
Dual premiership Kangaroo David King said there is very little between the two teams, but added that a concerning trend had developed at the Cats and that their midfield group would be challenged by the Hawks’ defensive work.
“I think if you’re choosing which midfield is going to have more disposals you’re picking Geelong. If you’re talking about what they are going to do without the footy you’re probably taking Hawthorn’s,” King told foxfooty.com.au.
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“Geelong have been scoring heavily out of the back-half in the last couple of months — and that’s an unhealthy and unsustainable model. Given that Hawthorn are the best defensive team we’ve seen for a while, their ability to stop the opposition going D50 to inside 50 is the best ever recorded — that’s a significant challenge for the Cats.
“The midfield are a major part of that, can they do what they did against the Tigers. Can they stay in the corridor now and become a really aggressive team or do they go back to that boundary game?”
Hawthorn’s Mitchell is the raging Brownlow Medal favourite and is on track to break the 800-disposal barrier this season, having averaged 36.7 disposals throughout 2018.
Fox Footy commentator King believes the Cats midfielders need to be willing to defend against the Hawks and must control the clearances in the contest.
“I think they’ve got enough artillery to throw at Hawthorn,” King said of the Cats’ midfield.
“The key is just trying to beat him for clearance, pretty much what Essendon did last week. I think he (Mitchell) had 10 of the first 20 clearances last week so he’s a massive challenge.
“If he doesn’t get clearance going Hawthorn’s way, then it probably gives the Cats a good chance to win the game. But I’ve been looking at this ball movement stuff of the Hawks, and it will challenge the midfield of the Cats to defend when the Hawks win the ball down back.
“That building the ball, they just work it down the ground slowly, sort of diagonally. It’ll force Selwood, Dangerfield and Kelly and all these guys to defend for long periods. I think that’s the big challenge — and they’re good enough to do it no doubt but that’s the big challenge they pose.”
King said he doesn’t expect Mitchell to be tagged, but still believed the Hawks have enough contributors to cope should the star midfielder have a quiet performer.
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“I think (Jaeger) O’Meara has been in fantastic form, they’ve got a kid (James) Worpel doing a few things, they’ve got (Liam) Shiels — they’ve got options,” King said.
“I think we underrate the Hawks a fraction. I don’t think it’s all down to Mitchell, but what he’s been able to do all season. Seeing him first-hand again the Bombers and how he was able to get in possession chains outside of clearance, it probably just made you think he’s got the perfect game.”
FOX FOOTY EXPERT TIPS
Nick Dal Santo: Geelong
Leigh Montagna: Geelong
David King: Hawthorn
Ben Dixon: Hawthorn
Cameron Mooney: Hawthorn
Dermott Brereton: Hawthorn
Sarah Jones: Geelong
Gerard Whateley: Geelong
Mark Robinson: Geelong
Jon Ralph: Geelong
Sarah Olle: Geelong
Anna Harrington: Geelong
Hawthorn 4 — Geelong 8
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