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The Round 8 match ups

50 for 50: Sicily This Friday night James Sicily will play his 50th match.

Two powerhouses of the modern era will do battle at the MCG on Friday night in what looms as another cracking contest.

With both sides littered with talent, there are plenty of enticing match-ups likely to dictate the course of the match.

Despite Hawthorn’s disappointing 2017 campaign, the Hawks still managed to pinch two nail-biting wins against the Swans last year, winning by a narrow margin of six points on both occasions.

Who could prove to be the match-winner this time around?

Here are some of the potential match-ups to watch out for on Friday night:

James Sicily vs Will Hayward

Will Hayward played as Sydney's lone tall up forward last weekend and James Sicily may be put on him to allow his elite intercept game to come to the fore. Sicily played one of the best games of his career last weekend, collecting 29 disposals (including 23 kicks), 14 marks and a goal in a stunning performance in defence. Hayward was one of the Swans best in their shock loss, booting three goals from 12 touches. It might be up to Hayward to ensure Sicily is accountable and isn't able to propel the Hawks out of the back 50. Considering Sicily's history of standing up on the big stage, he should be up for the occasion given he plays his 50th game on Friday night. 

Jarryd Roughead vs Heath Grundy

While Franklin will be under a watchful eye at one end of the ground, the same goes for Hawthorn skipper Jarryd Roughead. The Hawks spearhead was the difference in both Hawthorn’s narrow wins against the Swans in 2017. The 31-year-old tallied 24 disposals, eight marks and two goals in a best-on-ground performance at the MCG, and earlier that year silenced the Sydney crowd with a clutch set shot from 50m to put the Hawks in front in the dying seconds. Sydney veteran Heath Grundy is likely to man him on Friday night, a tough ask given Roughead’s mobility and his ability both in the air and on the ground.

Read: Last time we met Sydney

Tom Mitchell vs Josh P. Kennedy

The best ball-winner in the competition may find himself next to a familiar face on Friday night. Mitchell’s former teammate Josh P. Kennedy has been in stellar form over the past fortnight, steering the Swans to victory against the Cats and nearly willing them home in their narrow loss to the Roos. The Hawks star has been in fine form himself this season, leading the league in disposals and clearances. Funnily enough, Kennedy is also up against his former side, playing 13 games for Hawthorn from 2008-9. The wet weather will suit their elite clearances games perfectly, and it will be a fascinating contest to watch if they go to head-to-head. Youngster James Cousins could potentially go to Kennedy after blanketing Zach Merrett last week.

Luke Breust vs Nick Smith

In-form small forward Luke Breust should lock horns yet again with lockdown defender Nick Smith.  Breust has had an incredible start to the season, currently second in the Coleman Medal race. He has been held goalless on just one occasion in 2018 but faces his toughest assignment yet on Friday night in Smith. The Hawks goal sneak bagged three in their first battle last year at the SCG but Smith evened the ledger, holding Breust goalless later that year. The conditions will make this contest even more pivotal with the ball likely to be on the deck for most of the match.

Ben McEvoy vs Callum Sinclair

Ben McEvoy will be looking to bounce back strongly after he had his colours lowered by Tom Bellchambers last weekend. His opponent Callum Sinclair has been a revelation in the No.1 ruck role for the Swans, averaging 16 disposals and ranking sixth in the competition for hit-outs. The pair should get plenty of action with stoppages likely to be the order of the day in a cold, rainy slugfest at the MCG. McEvoy’s elite work rate around the ground should hold him good stead against a red-hot Sinclair.