AFL Finals – Hawthorn v Collingwood: Will tactics get Pies over the line?

Spring truly is in the air and  the excitement builds as there are only two more sleeps until Collingwood’s clash with the Hawks.  Some interesting Floreat Pica Society banter re last week’s game, the Ratten/Gotye video was a cracker and a great yarn from Ramon about his hard ball get in 1978.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the Flanagan/MM interview, but I fully agree with HB’s assertion that Mick would be mad to coach again at this stage of his life.  The only thing I would add is that he nearly certainly will, because it appears that his ego has been running rampant since at least early 2011 (and possibly a lot earlier then this, I’m being kind) when he began his last season with the Pies.  It will be very hard to get a ticket the first time Bucks and Mick oppose each other in the coaching box.

Anyway there are much more pressing matters.  My reflection on our finals campaign, after our ordinary recent form, is stolen from author Elliot Perlman :

“Is it mad to hope in spite of the evidence…or just necessary ?” (Perlman said love, not hope, but ….)  Of course one has to hope.

Selection will again be fascinating. The main questions are :

Does Dawes get a look in ?  I favour Yes if Sack doesn’t come up and no if Sack is OK, that is Paine (just) did enough to hold his place and the forward mix worked a lot better, although the quality of the opposition was a fraction of what it will be Friday night.   Hawthorn’s rucks are not their strength, Hale and Roughead are serviceable rucks with the latter obviously very dangerous when he goes forward, so we can roll the dice with one ruckman again.

Elliot or Sinclair ?  It will likely be neither of them if Blair comes up, as expected. If so, it will be the only time this season that neither of them has played, and Blair will get the defensive forward/hard chaser/harasser role, albeit he will alternate thru the midfield.  That is unless we go for a smaller mix if it is very wet, in which case then the unlucky one could be Sack or even Taz (unlikely – he has a good record on Buddy, but I don’t think he has the leg speed or endurance to go with Buddy anymore).  Taz’ ability to play at both ends probably makes him reasonably safe.

The way we set up in the game will be intriguing.  As Paul pointed out, we were thoroughly outpointed on the field and in the coaching box last time we met the Hawks.  We went 6 on 6 in our back half, and got smashed, predominantly because their midfielders decisively won the battle of the contested ball, with Mitchell and Sewell especially prominent.  Mitchell really enjoys playing the black and white. I’m assuming we won’t assign Mitchell a run-with, but it has to be at least a back-up plan.  He is a great player.

6 on 6 means that we have the chance to isolate their backs, who, just like ours, are stronger as a unit when they can peel off and assist each other than when they are forced into one on one contests.  6 on 6 makes Buddy a massive threat, and equally gives Travis a chance to compete with one and maybe two defenders, with Gibson peeling off to be the extra.  If we go 6 on 6 Gibson’s opponent becomes a critical player.  Presumably it will be the Sack if he is fit, and he simply must become a regular forward target making Gibson accountable and preferably keep him from Travis as much as possible.  The Sack also needs to get very physical with Gibson who is a very good player, but is at his best running around by himself, a bit like a couple of our backs.    We have played our best footy playing plus one rather than 6 on 6, so this will be the key tactical consideration.

Jolly, Pendles, Swanny, Beamer and Travis are the keys to us winning this match. The Hawks’ tall backs are still suspect, their rucks are just OK and they have a poor record in close finishes.  They also have outstanding strengths, notably a good midfield, the best ball users in the comp and a multi-pronged forward line.  As those great AFL figures, Arnie and Lethal Leigh have noted, “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”

Let’s hope we can do the business.


  1. Steve, we need a good start to get the Hawks nervous and force some errors. Dawes in for Paine I reckon. Let Dawes run around the ground while Jolly takes the bounces and the forward line opens for Clokey, Krak and Fasolo to strut their stuff. Don’t know if Tarrant should be getting a game. Backline too top heavy. All good in theory of course…

  2. I’ll be barracking for Cloke.

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