Essendon will come up against a huge test on Friday night when they host Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium. The Hawks have won their last seven games straight and are shaping up as real premiership contenders after their convincing 47 point win against Collingwood. Meanwhile Essendon are coming off an embarrassing 67 point loss to Geelong and fighting to remain intact with the top half of the ladder. The Bombers will attempt to harness the bounce-back spirit that Geelong displayed against them last weekend and they will also hope to see the return of some key senior players. Tayte Pears, Jason Winderlich and Elliott Kavanagh are poised to return for the Bombers while Luke Hodge may play his third match for the season for the Hawks after a year plagued with injury. Buddy Franklin will presumably see out the game on the sidelines in an attempt to get his hamstring right for Hawthorn’s showdown against the Cats in round 19.
Surprisingly this week is the first time these two clubs will meet this season with the last time they met in round 14 of 2011 and the Hawks emerging as winners by 65 points. Hawthorn will go in to the match this weekend clear favourites but have a habit of unpredictably dropping matches they should win so it could be closer than predicted.
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