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Match preview: Hawthorn v Collingwood

Pick a Winner: Haw v Coll Duck and Browny preview the Hawks v Magpies
Brodie Grundy must start the season right against Ben McEvoy - AFL,Collingwood Magpies,Hawthorn Hawks
Brodie Grundy must start the season right against Ben McEvoy

Both the Hawks and Pies are coming off disappointing 2017 campaigns and shape as the two of the more difficult clubs to handicap heading into the new season. What is clear about the Pies is that they’ll need close to their best 22 available most weeks if they’re to snap their four-year finals drought and, sadly, they’ll again be missing some key players this week. Not so the Hawks, who will be close to full strength and given the difficult few weeks to follow, the same nightmare 0-4 start from last year looms large again if they don't win this. The Pies bat deeper through the midfield and are the better clearance team, but the Hawks have more talent inside both 50-metre arcs and the return of Ben Stratton, James Frawley and more than likely, Cyril Rioli, helps considerably. 

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday, March 24, 7.25pm AEST 

TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide 

R15, 2017, Hawthorn 18.10 (118) d Collingwood 14.10 (94) at the MCG
R9, 2017, Collingwood 13.12 (90) d Hawthorn 11.6 (72) at the MCG
R23, 2016, Hawthorn 17.10 (112) d Collingwood 17.9 (111) at the MCG
R14, 2015, Hawthorn 15.11 (101) d Collingwood 12.19 (91) at the MCG
R23, 2014, Hawthorn 18.13 (121) d Collingwood 8.8 (56) at the MCG

1. It was one win each between the sides in 2017, Collingwood won by 18 points in round nine at the MCG after trailing by 34 points at half-time. The return clash was in round 15 with the Hawks winning by 24 points thanks to 35 disposals and two goals from Tom Mitchell.

2. Hawthorn was the No.1 ranked team in 2017 for disposal efficiency operating at 76.4 per cent while Collingwood was mid-table at 73.4 per cent.

3. Hawthorn has dominated Collingwood over a long time winning 10 of the last 11 clashes including two wins by more than 50 points.

4. Collingwood struggled to score in 2017 ranked 11th for totals goals, kicking 278; only three players finished with more than 20 goals.

5. Hawthorn’s record in 2017 at the MCG was poor, losing seven of 11 matches, their first negative win/loss season at the MCG since 2006. The Magpies won eight of 13 games at the venue.

6. Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne, is the 19th-ranked player in the competition according the Official AFL Player Rankings. Now aged 35, he hasn't missed a game since 2013.

Hopefully Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy bought himself a lottery ticket because he was awfully lucky not to be rubbed out for a bump on Tory Dickson in the JLT Community Series match against the Western Bulldogs. An important match-up looms against Ben McEvoy, who is coming off his best season yet.

PREDICTION: Hawthorn by 10 points.