Mallinder's Musings for finals week two
HAWKS V BULLDOGS
At the MCG, 7.50pm
RECENT RECORD: Haw 8 WB 2
LAST TIME: R3 2016: Haw 14.9 (93) def WB 13.12 (90) at Docklands
LAST WEEK: Haw (83) lost to Geel
(85); WB (99) def WC (52)
THE Dogs will have returned from Perth with their tails well and truly up. But they will need to have also brought back that incredible intensity to knock the champs out in "straight sets” and finally bring an end to their domination. The Dogs certainly turned up the heat in round three when they led 68-49 at the last change, before the Hawks kicked seven goals in the final term, three off the boot of James Sicily. This will be a different Hawks side, however - one that thrives on having their backs to the wall, especially in finals, and dirty after letting slip a golden opportunity for direct passage to a home preliminary final. The Dogs haven't beaten the Hawks in their past eight meetings and never in a final. Caleb Daniel getting the better of a player 14 years his senior, Sam Mitchell, in the middle will be a key to them turning the tables, while Easton Wood, in his first game against Hawthorn since round 10, 2011, will be important across half back in drying up the supply to Hawk small forwards Cyril Rioli and Luke Breust.
SWANS V CROWS
At the SCG, 7.25PM
RECENT RECORD: Syd 5 Adel 5
LAST TIME: R4 2016: Adel 16.17 (113)
def Syd 15.13 (103) at Adelaide Oval
LAST WEEK: Syd (55) lost to GWS
(91); Adel (141) def NM (79)
THESE were the top two teams just three weeks ago, but now face off with the loser out and the winner to meet Geelong in Melbourne. The Swans are going to have to recover quickly from last week's shellacking at the hands of GWS, with the Crows having regained their mojo after a win against North. The trip shouldn't bother them either - they've won six of their past eight games at the SCG, where the Swans host a final for the first time since 2005. Sydney will have to make do without Kurt Tippett (jaw), who will again miss a match against his former side, and young defender Callum Mills (hamstring). The Crows are fit and firing and have that league-best attack, which will test a Swans defence opened up by the Giants. Nick Smith, in particular, will need to be on his toes while minding Eddie Betts, who kicked six goals last week, and four in the round-four win over the Swans. After going goalless in a final for the first time, Lance Franklin will want a big game, but it won't be easy with Daniel Talia constantly breathing down his neck.