WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Saturday May 5, 1.40pm
LAST TIME: Brisbane Lions 9.12 (66) def by Essendon 15.12 (102), round eight, 2011 at the Gabba

After narrowly losing the ANZAC Day clash against Collingwood, Essendon will have welcomed the 10 day break which has in some ways eased the injury crisis the club was facing.

Bomber's Captain Jobe Watson - http://www.flickr.com/photos/andy_emcee/

The Bombers have done incredibly well to only have recorded the one loss in 2012, and will be hoping the strong form from their younger stars continues as they attempt to hold sway whilst so many are out with injury.

Although Brisbane have not faced a crisis as deep as Essendon’s in the medical ward, they too have their fair share of issues. Namely, falling apart and being smashed when facing finals contenders.

Brisbane may have remained competitive through the stoppages last week, but they still managed to be on the end of an absolute belting from Geelong. Brisbane’s forward half looked completely ineffective, failing to score a goal until late in the third term.

Things have to improve, and fast.

Key Players

Jobe Watson, Essendon: Jobe Watson has been a large factor in Essendon’s resurgence in 2012, and his form continues to be critical for Essendon’s chances.

If Watson plays well, Essendon generally play well, so Brisbane finding a way to slow down the Bombers Captain would be high on their list of priorities.

Daniel Merrett, Brisbane: Daniel Merrett provides Coach Michael Voss with a powerful conundrum every week at the selection table; at which end does he play?

Merrett has shown his worth as a defender in previous years, but Brisbane’s woes in front of goals has opened up a need for him in an attacking role.

Wherever he ends up, he must play well for the Lions to have a chance.

Brent Stanton, Essendon: Although he was quite last week, Stanton’s start to the season has him firmly in All Australian contention.

Last week showed that he may have some issues dealing with a hard tag, but unfortunately for Brisbane, their main tagger Andrew Raines will sit this game out with a suspension.

Stanton has destroyed a few sides this year, so Brisbane will have to find a replacement for Raines quickly in order to curb Stanton’s influence.

Jonathan Brown, Brisbane: The Lions skipper will be filthy at himself for last weeks performance and will be determined to have an impact on this weeks contest.

Geelong’s back six is one of the best in the land, so today he gets his opportunity to atone against a backline which, with some key injuries, may be susceptible to a strong marking forward.

The equation is simple for Lions fans: if they want to win, Brown must fire.

Final Say

The pressure here is all on Brisbane, they will want to improve after last weeks effort, but whether they can match it against a side which is rapidly improving into a top 8 certainty is another question.

The Bombers speed and skills across the ground, coupled with the match being played at their home deck at Etihad says that this will simply be too much for Brisbane.

Essendon by 34


B: Dyson Heppell, Dustin Fletcher, Cale Hooker
HB:: Kyle Hardingham, Nathan Lovett-Murray, Courtenay Dempsey
C: Angus Monfries, Heath Hocking, Brent Stanton
HF:: Travis Colyer, Jake Carlisle, Ricky Dyson
F: Leroy Jetta, Stewart Crameri, Alwyn Davey
Foll: Patrick Ryder, David Zaharakis, Jobe Watson
I/C: Sam Lonergan, Tom Bellchambers, Jake Melksham, Ben Howlett
Emg: Mark McVeigh, Luke Davis, Cory Dell’Olio
In: Courtenay Dempsey, Nathan Lovett-Murray, Travis Colyer
Out: Tayte Pears (Soreness), Michael Hibberd (Hamstring), Cory Dell’Olio

Brisbane Lions
B: Ashley McGrath, Matt Maguire, Ryan Lester
HB:: Mitchell Golby, Joel Patfull, Daniel Rich
C: Jed Adcock, Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley
HF:: James Polkinghorne, Jonathan Brown, Todd Banfield
F: Ryan Harwood, Daniel Merrett, Aaron Cornelius
Foll: Ben Hudson, Simon Black, Jack Redden
I/C: Jared Polec, Patrick Karnezis, Billy Longer, Jack Crisp
Emg: Sam Sheldon, Niall McKeever, Joshua Green
In: James Polkinghorne, Ryan Harwood, Billy Longer
Out: Josh Drummond (Soreness), Sam Sheldon, Andrew Raines (Suspension)

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