mattys123′s Match Preview NAB Challenge – Collingwood vs Hawthorn

Feb 24th, 2015 | By | Category: AFL Match Preview

nab15dawksFooty’s back, finally. On Thursday night in Launceston, Tasmania, the 2015 AFL pre season will officially get under way when Hawthorn hosts Collingwood in the opening game of the NAB Challenge. The revamped NAB Challenge no longer has a knock out component or even a final, but it still acts as a very important part of each club’s preparation for the AFL home and away season. The Hawks are of course coming off a remarkable 2014 season where they managed to defend their premiership and become the first back to back premiers in over a decade. Collingwood however had a less successful 2014 campaign with injuries and off field problems leading to them falling away in the second half of the season. The Magpies, for the first time since 2005, missed the top 8 and therefore did not play finals.

As both clubs begin their on field endeavours for the season their fans will be looking forward to seeing some of the new players acquired in the off season. At Collingwood that means the debut of experienced pair Levi Greenwood and TravisVarcoe, who came over in trade deals after the Pies lost Dayne Beams and Heritier Lumumba. Varcoe, a Geelong premiership player, and Greenwood, a star in North Melbourne’s finals side last season, will add some much needed experience to a young Collingwood list. The Hawks biggest recruit after their premiership success was ex Melbourne defender James Frawley, an addition that has seen plenty of argument over the current free agency system. Frawley, after years at a struggling club made the move to the reigning premiers and no doubt strengthen what was already the best list in the competition. Apart from the experienced recruits both clubs will also roll out a few youngsters to get them valuable game time, with Collingwood’s number 5 draft pick Jordan De Goey the pick of the bunch at this early stage.



After the disappointment of season 2014 the Magpies would have had a long and tough review that no doubt uncovered plenty of reasons why they failed late last season. Injuries and a lack of fitness late in games was seen as one of the problems but a young and inexperience list had to also be a major factor. You’d expect coach Nathan Buckley to select a fairly strong squad against the Hawks on Thursday with only 3 proper hitouts between now and the round 1 clash with Brisbane. The Pies under took a public intra club match last Thursday night and apart from 3-4 players still overcoming injury, their list looks healthier than it has been in a long time. Ben Reid, Darcy Moore, Jonathon Marsh and Clinton Young won’t be considered this week but Young is the only long term concern of that group so it’s all going ok. Two players recovering from knee injuries, Matthew Scharenberg and Brent Macaffer also won’t play this week although both are well ahead of schedule and could be in contention for round 1 even.

In that intra club hitout last week the player who stood out the most was Dane Swan, who in many ways is a living example of what the Pies must do to improve, after he had a season wrecked by injuries himself in 2014. Swan showed his trademark dash and ability to break the lines in a performance that had many a Magpie fan smiling as they left that night. Apart from Swan and the other usual suspects in Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Cloke and Elliott, the young players at Collingwood showed there’s plenty of internal improvement to come soon too. Tom Langdon impressed once again and third year players Kennedy, Broomhead and Grundy (all first round picks in the same draft) showed they should be an integral part of this team going forward.

The Magpies have a woeful recent record against the Hawks having not beaten them since the epic 2011 preliminary final. That losing streak was extended to 7 games (6 home & away, 1 final) last season when Hawthorn inflicted two heavy losses on the Pies. Collingwood may see this as an opportunity to get some confidence against the Hawks and with a strong and fit squad of players to choose from you would expect a strong showing from the Magpies first up.



Hawthorn have had a remarkable last 3 seasons really, reaching the grand final every time and achieving the ultimate success the last 2 seasons. Even the loss of superstar forward Lance Franklin didn’t hurt the Hawks last season as they once again became the champions and in doing so placed themselves as the side to beat in 2015. Their preparation leading into this game hasn’t been as smooth as the Magpies, being 4 weeks delayed due to a later season finish in 2014, this game will be their first real hitout of the new season.

Alistair Clarkson has named a stronger squad then expected with the only big names missing being Hodge, Birchall, Rioli and Lake. Clarkson himself may not even coach the game, a practice he has implemented in past pre season games. There will be plenty of new names for the Hawks though with big name recruit James Frawley set to be in action. Also named are a bevy of young players including the likes of first year players Dallas Willsmore, Teia Miles and Daniel Howe who have impressed the club already during the pre season.

The reigning premiers may well go into this game a little under done both in terms of preparation and big names but they will still field a team with plenty of premiership players and will put up a tough task for the Magpies to overcome.



(Squads of 29 named, to be trimmed to 26 pre game)


2. Jarryd Roughead, 3. Jordan Lewis, 5. Sam Mitchell, 6. Josh Gibson, 7. Ben McEvoy, 8. Taylor Duryea, 10. Bradley Hill, 12. James Frawley, 18. Jonathon Ceglar, 19. Jack Gunston, 21. James Sicily, 22. Luke Breust, 24. Benjamin Stratton, 26. Liam Shiels, 28. Paul Puopolo, 29. Will Langford, 30. Kaiden Brand, 31. Angus Litherland, 32. Jonathan Simpkin, 35. Sam Grimley, 37. Jed Anderson, 38. Dallas Willsmore, 39. Alex Woodward, 40. Billy Hartung, 41. Daniel Howe, 42. Teia Miles, 43. Marc Pittonet, 44. Jared Hardisty, 45. Jermaine Miller-Lewis

1. Alex Fasolo, 2. Sam Dwyer, 4. Brodie Grundy, 5. Jamie Elliott, 6. Tyson Goldsack,
7. Ben Kennedy, 8. Tom Langdon, 9. Jesse White, 13. Taylor Adams, 16. Nathan Brown, 18. Travis Varcoe,
19. Levi Greenwood, 21. Nathan Freeman, 22. Steele Sidebottom, 23. Lachlan Keeffe, 24. Josh Thomas, 25. Jack Crisp, 26. Marley Williams, 27. Tony Armstrong, 28. Ben Sinclair, 29. Tim Broomhead, 31. Jackson Ramsay, 33. Patrick Karnezis, 34. Alan Toovey, 35. Jordan De Goey, 38. Matthew Goodyear, 43. Adam Oxley, 44. Corey Gault, 45. Jack Frost



It’s hard to make a definitive tip for any game in the AFL’s pre season competition and this game is no different. Both clubs will have unique and planned approaches to this game and with the ability to get game time into more players then in the regular season it will be a game of mixed formations and talent.

Ultimately I think the Magpies will want to make a statement after a poor end to last season and having had that one genuine hitout under their belt as well as a relatively stronger squad they should run out victors in a close game.




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