The prospects of familiar faces and finals footy will be at the forefront of Hawthorn’s thinking when the club completes its 2018 Tasmanian commitments on Saturday.
The Hawks take on a Brisbane team orchestrated by their former captain Luke Hodge and coaching mentor Chris Fagan knowing the fixture begins an enviable run-in towards September.
Fresh from a percentage-boosting 63-point win over 2016 premiers Western Bulldogs and first triple-figure scoreline since round 2, Alastair Clarkson’s men know they only have two remaining fixtures against teams above them on the ladder (Geelong at the MCG in round 21 and Sydney at the SCG two weeks later).
Sitting eighth on 36 points and a 118.1 percentage, the Hawks face the lowly Lions, Blues and Dockers over the next three weeks with Essendon and St Kilda also on the agenda.
Meanwhile, the Lions recorded back-to-back wins for the first time in three years after thumping Carlton by 65 points at the Gabba on Saturday and the Launceston fixture is looming as a clash of in-form goal-kickers.
Lion Eric Hipwood and Hawk Luke Breust both bagged a half-dozen at the weekend while Jack Gunston and Jarryd Roughead kicked four each as Hawthorn marked Cyril Rioli’s retirement by recording its highest scoreline (19.8) for the year.
Lions captain Dayne Beams has also been on fire, collecting 40 disposals against the Blues, while Jonathon Ceglar is likely to take on in-form ruckman Stefan Martin after Ben McEvoy was hospitalised with a fractured cheekbone against the Dogs.
Chasing Clarkson’s 200th win in charge, the Hawks will be targeting a UTAS Stadium clean sweep for 2018 following wins over St Kilda by 35 points, Port Adelaide by three and Gold Coast by 53.
They will also be hoping to halt a worrying decline in crowd sizes for Brisbane matches in Launceston after the attendance of 15,796 in 2013 dropped to 12,430 in 2014, 11,731 in 2015 and 10,553 last year.
AFL Round 17
- WHAT: Hawks v Lions
- WHEN: Saturday 1.45pm
- WHERE: UTAS Stadium