- Aug 17, 2012
- AFL Club
- Brisbane Lions
Preliminary final. What a result for our football club, when compared to where we were just a mere 4 seasons ago. Just winning the wooden spoon, and not sure when the dark tunnel will end.
How quickly things can change when you have the right processes, people and culture at a club. I for one am extremely proud of the team and club after another excellent season under Fagan and the coaching staff. Last year ended on a disappointing note after 2 competitive finals, but going out in straight sets. The win against Richmond 2 weeks ago was so important for our club, players and supporters to know that we have what it takes to be a contender, not just for one season like Bulldogs, but consistently have a list to challenge in the years to come.
After another solid year by Geelong, the media have been on Scott's case regarding this performance in finals. After a competitive effort against Port, the vultures were swooping and Geelong responded with an extraordinary performance last night against a Collingwood team still celebrating its elimination final from the previous week. As it stands, one of the 4 teams in the competition right now, will be the 2020 premiers, in a season like no other.
Last time they met: Round 6, 2020 @ SCG
Brisbane defeated by Geelong 11.7 (73) to 6.10 (46)
Trailing by 10 points after a spluttering three-goal first half, the Cats bombarded Brisbane with seven unanswered goals in an extraordinary third term. Despite the Lions winning 3 out of 4 quarters, Geelong absolutely outplayed us in the 3rd quarter to wrestle back control and put the game beyond doubt. Hopefully Fagan would be drilling the cost of mental and physical lapses in games, and this one cost us heavily. Dangerfield was unstoppable that day, and he had a big night last night against the Magpies, so they are in red hot form.
Let’s look at each team’s forward, midfield and defence groups to compare where they are at.
Our forward line has worked surprisingly well, and could be much more high scoring, due to our own conversions in front of goal, including the midfielders who have been woeful this season. Thankfully, they all stepped up in key moments in our game against Richmond and brought us home.Our very own X-factor in Cameron has been in excellent form the last few weeks. Supporters at the Gabba always have a sense of excitement every time the ball went near him and it's not surprising to see why. He’s smart, agile, quick and very hard to match up on. I’m however expecting his sidekick in McCarthy to have a big game this weekend, just like last year’s miracle on grass V2.
For us to dominate this facet of the game, the midfield will have to lower their eyes and look for smart options. Simply kicking it long to an outnumbered contest won’t do any good for both our tall forwards and small forwards, as they have excellent interceptors. It was great to see the midfielders last week pushing up to apply pressure, but we'll need to make sure we make the most of our chances in front of goal. They'll have their work cut out to maintain forward pressure and be able to force a few goals through forward pressure and keeping it in the forward 50. Our forward line has been great against Richmond, with the scoreboard flattering them in the end, where we kept them in the contest with misses late in the 3rd quarter. Our tall forwards/resting ruckman creating a contest, and bringing it to ground for our smalls to capitalise on our chances. McStay and in particular Hipwood has been presenting well and crashing packs, he needs to just clear his head every time before shooting for goal. I feel like sometimes he overthinks his set shots, and it would help if he could have a run while having the set shot, which seems to aid his natural arc. Harry Taylor is a gun defender, we might have to put someone on him closely to curtail his influence and prevent his intercept marks. I'll admit I don't know too much about Geelong's small defenders to make a comment, but they will have their work cut out for them with Cameron, McCarthy, Coleman & Rayner swooping around.
Key match up: Hipwood v Taylor
Upcoming forward against a senior gun defender. Will be a tantalising prospect at the glimpse of the young and exciting vs the veteran and absolute champion.
Menegola has troubled the Lions prior to 2020, and is one to watch out for given his AA season. McCluggage might be a good option to take him on the wing, although may be slightly too short in aerial contests. Both have excellent work rate. Geelong’s midfield is an accumulator team. They love to have short possessions and control the ball, which is why they average about 30 more disposals per game in 2020. Teams need to have extremely high work rate to be able to stop this and limit their effectiveness going forward. They have a brigade of stars they can rotate through the midfield. Names like Dangerfield, Selwood, Ablett are mouth watering and just oozes skill, experience and composure.
As for the Lions, Neale and Lyons are leading the way so far in 2020 but are well supported by the rotating brigade of youngsters that are showing why we rated them so highly. Whenever McCluggage has the ball, you can just feel the game slow down as he looks to have so much time. Usually makes the right decision and generates plays from a stoppage situation. Robinson is someone I'm tipping for a big one this weekend.Has been a bit quiet this year, compared to last year, but you cannot question his endeavour. He cracks in, week in week out to make sure the opponent sweats whenever he's around. With Rich, he possibly having his best year for the club and is really shining in the backline with his toughness and physical presence, not to mention his decision making.
We had a glimpse of Martin & Oscar duoing together, and it took a while for the midfielders to start taking advantage of their tapwork. These days, games are won and lost in the midfield. On paper, it’s a mouth watering prospect to see 2 exciting midfield groups go head to head. The added extra of the history and passion between these teams complements the fixture very nicely. Expect a high scoring game with a couple of talented midfielders, one a bit more consistent and finals experienced than the other, but I'm expecting a fiery match up from the first bounce. The spread of contested ball winners on Saturday was very encouraging, hoping to see the same effort and intensity for our supporters and members in Queensland, and to hopefully repeat the result of the 2004 preliminary final. We can’t be satisfied with just winning 1 finals game, we want to make sure we make the most of every opportunity.
Key match up:
Dangerfield v Neale
Two gun midfielders, in the top 5 of all midfielders in the league currently. While we may not see them go head to head, this battle will be fascinating to watch.
Last week against the Richmond, it looked like we were getting destroyed by silly turnovers close to our D50 which is impossible to defend. Andrews & Gardiner did exceptionally well in preventing their opponents from having any impact on the game. Harris Andrews had stamped his authority on the contest. Time after time, Andrews repelled Richmond attacks with astute judgement and courage, and didn’t really have much of an opponent so he could roam free and be the 3rd man in many situations. Birchall and Rich proved that their experience and leadership shone through, with pin point accuracy and sharp kicks to cut through the defensive press. Lester & Starcevich are good supporting acts, with the latter bursting through packs and intercep marking on a few occasions. Reminded me of Elliot Yeo with his running style & attack on the footy. Richmond were quite efficient in moving their ball forward, but the Lions defence group as a collective worked very well together. We made them take really awkward shots from the boundary, or long range at the 50m arc. We'll need to ensure that this continues against Geelong, who are ripe for the picking, at the home of the AFL Grand Final, the Gabba.
In terms of match ups, I would expect Andrews to take Hawkins and Gardiner to take Dangerfield/Ablett. Geelong are vulnerable when Hawkins is double & triple teamed, but we cannot allow the loose ball out the back as they will score easily due to their elite forwards like Miers, Rohan etc; Perhaps Answerth will come back in to cover their relatively small forward line. Lester has been Mr Reliable for a while now, and I’ve always been a fan of him, and glad to see him enjoying some success at the later parts of his career.
Key match up: Andrews v Hawkins
This clash looms as an exciting duel between two of the game's best young exponents of contested marking.
So, what now?
For us to win, we have to have a positive mindset from the get-go and can’t afford to take time to adjust to the finals mindset. If we let Geelong get a headstart, they will run away with it, just like they did against Collingwood. Lions have looked threatening and dangerous when they’re willing to support each other, get numbers around the ball and attack the corridor. Our defence has to stand up strong and look for targets instead of hacking the ball out of the area temporarily. One thing I've noticed compared to previous years is that the defenders are taking their time to make the right decision rather than giving it off straight away. The added composure of Lester, Birchall & Gardiner has really helped the team. The defensive running has also looked like it was back against the Tigers last week.
Average speed in attack: 7 km/h compared to 7.9 km/h (Richmond)
Average speed in defence: 7.3 km/h compared to 7.2 km/h (Richmond)
Very pleasing to see that our players are willing to work hard defensively, and we’ll need to bring it again against Richmond to book a place in the Grand Final. McCluggage and Andrews led the way in distance covered with 12.5km & 12.2km respectively. For Geelong, they had O’Connor, Miers and Blicavs with 12.5km, 12.2km and 11.7km. They work hard.
This game is going to require a team effort. This year, there's been a breath of fresh air in the way that the Lions have been playing footy. We look re-engergised and are willing to take the game on when required, but also able to slow it down on our terms and protect the lead If we take it seriously and are focused to head into the bye full of confidence, the Lions should be able to cover them. We're going to have to work bloody hard if we want this win, as the record against them in recent years has not been too flashy. We have generally been put away quite comfortably, apart from the 2 miracle games, including this one from last year which is my all-time favourite game I’ve attended live. The Cats have won all four of their games at the Gabba this year – against North Melbourne, St Kilda, Essendon and the Pies – so they are used to the venue now. We have to make sure our supporters make lots of noise and make it an amazing atmosphere.
The usual faithful will show up in droves at the Gabba, expecting the Lions fans to make more noise than the Geelong fans. They have a good supporter base in Queensland, but not with the same level as Collingwood, Richmond and Hawthorn. With expectations looming on the young Lions, let's hope it doesn't distract the team, and that we are still committed to finishing off a year of hard work. We have pride, and we are the pride of Brisbane town. Let's hear the song two more times this year, briunging hom the cup as Black hands it to Dayne Zorko on the 2nd last Saturday of October.
Prediction: Lions by 14 points.
Team changes: After our excellent win, I think Fagan will stick with the same team. He may be tempted to bring in Answerth for more defensive cover, but I think Coleman did an outstanding job offering pressure in the forward line and in the midfield.
Enjoy a complimentary GIF of Hawkins below.
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