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Match preview: Eagles v Hawks

Ashley Browne,  April 19, 2017 12:00 PM

Sam Butler helped West Coast spoil Hawthorn's round 22 trip to Perth last year

Sam Butler helped West Coast spoil Hawthorn's round 22 trip to Perth last year


Hawthorn fans have largely remained stoic through their team's horror start to the season, but the tipping point might come around 7.15pm Sunday when they see Sam Mitchell, a five-time club champion and favourite son, walk triumphantly off the MCG with his new West Coast teammates. The winless Hawks are so bereft of form and confidence it is impossible to see them turning things around in a week, even though the Eagles are always a shaky proposition at the MCG where they have lost four of their last five matches, including a fortnight ago to Richmond. West Coast is simply going better all over the ground and won't drop this one.

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Sunday, April 23, 2.40pm WST

R22, 2016, West Coast 13.14 (92) d Hawthorn 10.7 (67) at Domain Stadium
R2, 2016, Hawthorn 14.15 (99) d West Coast 7.11 (53) at the MCG
GF, 2015, Hawthorn 16.11 (107) d West Coast 8.13 (61) at the MCG
2QF, 2015, West Coast 14.12 (96) d Hawthorn 9.10 (64) at Domain Stadium
R19, 2015, Hawthorn 13.10 (88) d West Coast 11.8 (74) at Domain Stadium

1. The Eagles won the most recent clash between the sides in the clearances 43-31, contested possessions 153-108 and dominated scoring shots 27-17. Andrew Gaff picked up the three Brownlow votes with 38 disposals and six Inside 50s.

2. Hawthorn is ranked last for inside 50s in 2017, second last for marks inside 50, last for goals per game, last for contested possessions and contested marks.

3. Hawthorn and West Coast clash for the 49th time and the Eagles hold the advantage winning 26 games to 22. Recently the Hawks have been the better side winning six of the last eight since 2013.

4. The Hawks have won only two of 16 quarters so far in 2017 compared to the Eagles 11 from 16; in the last two games Hawthorn has kicked only 13 goals compared to their oppositions 52.

5. Heavily in Hawthorn’s favour is their record against West Coast at the MCG, winning five of six contests. The only time the Eagles have defeated the Hawks at the MCG was back in round 14, 2006.

6. Despite not having played a game all year, West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui remains the ninth-ranked player according to the official AFL Player Ratings.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Cyril Rioli
The Hawthorn wizard is in the middle of a prolonged form slump, and his possession, tackling and scoring figures are well down on previous years. He has a few mates in that department, but some early magic on Sunday could spark the Hawks into action. 

PREDICTION: West Coast by 10 points.