Hawks and Tigers to unleash midfield bulls
Posted on 04/25/20 7:44 PM
Tom Mitchell has become one of the AFL most dominant ball winners during his time at Hawthorn.It’s not all about Tom Mitchell and Dustin Martin but the two midfield bulls will have a large say in the outcome when Richmond take on Hawthorn at the MCG.
Mitchell’s jaw-dropping play in the opening two rounds – 54 possessions in round one followed by 40 touches and two goals last week – has been a key factor in the Hawks’ 2-0 start.
Martin’s numbers haven’t been quite so garish but the reigning Brownlow Medallist has six goals to his name and has been no less important to the Tigers.
Mitchell’s performances have sparked healthy debate over how best to combat the ball magnet’s influence.
Can he even be tagged?
The same question has been asked of Martin for a long time.
Is it too much to ask for the pair to play on each other in a tantalising head-to-head battle of All n on-ballers?
“I think there will be a few times where Mitch is lined up against Dusty, but they’ve got plenty of other strong midfielders,” Hawthorn assistant coach Adem Yze told AAP.
“We don’t look at it as ‘Tom Mitchell versus the rest’ … it’s our midfield group against theirs.
“The hardest thing with (Martin) is if you are getting on top of him the midfield he can go and plonk himself in front of goals.
“It will clearly be a really strong contest through the midfield this week.”
The Hawks are flying high in fourth after they stunned Geelong by a point in an Easter Monday thriller, while the Tigers are 12th after Adelaide prevailed by 36 points in the grand final rematch.
Hawthorn regained James Frawley from injury but lost James Sicily to suspension and Shaun Burgoyne to a hamstring injury, which ended a streak of 107 straight matches for the four-time Premiership player.
Richmond lost Josh Caddy to suspension and dropped Shai Bolton and Corey Ellis, the trio replaced by Nick Vlastuin, Sam Lloyd and debutant Jack Higgins.
The inclusion of fit-again Hawthorn stars Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo has been a huge plus in terms of their side’s pressure-based game.
And an off-field addition in former Port Adelaide speedster Jarman Impey has also been key in that area.
“He’s really been embraced and he’s really starting to gel with our other forwards just two games in,” Yze said of Impey.
“His impact with and without the ball has been second to none.
“He’s a terrific kid; he just wants to perform and do the best he can for his teammates.”