Preview Brisbane Lions v Essendon Bombers, Round 5, Saturday April 17, 7:25 PM, GABBA

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McLuggages

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Honestly, I picked this week to do the preview as I expected us to be 4-0 (or 3-1) with Joe leading the Coleman, and about to kick 8 vs the Dons. Unfortunately, it hasn’t panned out that way and we’re 1-3 facing the 1-3 Bombers. We have a winnable block of games on the horizon – Essendon, Carlton (away), Port, Fremantle (away), Gold Coast (away). Optimistically, we should go 4-1 in these games, and get to 5-4 and back on track.

Key questions coming in to this week
  • Can we adjust to the new rules or have they completely destroyed our territory, contested, zonal footy? Can we take the game on, hit up leading forwards, find overlap runners, and move the ball faster?
  • Will our AA calibre players re-find their form? (Neale, Cameron, Daniher, Andrews looking at you)
  • Are we a good 2021 side that’s been unlucky with fixturing, umpiring and injuries, or are we just a poor side?
  • Does Neale need a rest? Are we actually more reliant on him in the guts than we want to acknowledge?

Recent history vs Essendon

Despite the battles of the early 2000s I don’t feel a strong rivalry with Essendon recently – they’ve never really been contenders, and we’ve generally been poor which hasn’t made for important games. That said, there have quite a few memorable games between us – Bradshaw’s goal after the season to draw at the G (2009), Staker’s late goal to seal it at Ethiad (2013), and the win against Essendon’s VFL ring-ins to avoid the spoon in 2016.

There are 3 recent games vs Essendon that chart our rise over the past few years:
  • 2017 Round 15 Etihad: Lions 90 df Bombers 82 (8pt Win): We were 2-12 coming in – Essendon went on to play finals. It was one of our few wins where we beat a top-8 side, and won a game in Melbourne. Watching the highlights you can see that our kids are good and starting to believe – young Andrews, Hipwood, Berry, McCluggage are all great. Joe kicks 3.4 for them.

  • 2019 Round 4 MCG: Bombers 112 df Lions 65 (47pt win) – we were 3-0 coming in, Essendon 1-2 and it was a big test to see if we were any good. We were comprehensively beaten and learnt that our reckless rapid ball movement didn’t stack up, and we didn’t have a good small-medium defender (Tippa, Fantasia, Stringer all had a day out). On the first point we slowed down and controlled our movement, and on the 2nd Answerth debuted 2 weeks later and filled that role perfectly.
  • 2020 Round 9 Gabba: Lions 91 df Bombers 28 (63pt win) – Friday night, prime time. This was one of the most ruthless Lions performances of recent history and it felt like we had arrived as a good side. We had injuries - Ballendon, Skinner, and Witherden all played – however we took the Bombers apart with our ball movement, pace, toughness and skill. Our depth looked and felt amazing with Witherden coming from the reserves to be best on ground, and probably his best game for the club.


Essendon this season

On paper, they’re a poor side even before injuries – taking out Hurley, Shiel, Caldwell, Draper they’ll do well to avoid the bottom 4. They’re extremely raw in key positions, they’re missing their ruck, and their midfield is small and one dimensional. That said they’re having a crack and playing good footy – young players have stepped up, they’re working hard moving the ball well, and applying pressure - which is more than you can say about us. Merrett is a very good and under-rated footballer, Ridley will be AA and Tippa/Stringer can cause issues if not well defended. All said and done, it’s a side we should beat at home if we’re any good.

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Changes: I usually have a good read and my finger on the pulse for team changes – but I’m a bit lost this week. Given what we’ve been through, I think Fagan will go with the same line-up and ring wholesale changes vs Carlton the week following if we go down; that said:
  • McStay if fit, should be back in for Fullerton – I was looking forward to seeing Dan play the Tom Lynch ‘connector’ role this season. He should reall stretch the Essendon defence.
  • Answerth if fit (Ah Chee if not) in for Lester or Birchall as I think we’re too tall and slow back there. Despite being tall, we got monstered in the air vs the Dogs.
  • I wouldn’t mind seeing Coleman in for T. Berry to give us another dimension up forward?
  • Does Neale need a week off? If so I’d like to see Mathieson in – he has deficiencies but you can never question his effort.

Preview: Is this the game we get our season back on track, or is this the crash back down to earth where we realize we’re not good enough? I see this game going one of two ways:
  • Scenario one: Everything clicks, our boys are happy being back home, we’re a good side that’s had a slow start, and the shackles come off and we win by 10 goals. Joe and Eric kick 5 each, McCluggage gets 30 touches. Relief.
  • Scenario two: It’s a real scrap around the contest – McGrath, Merrett, Parish make us look 2nd rate. Some d-grade forward steps up for them with 4 goals. Our ball movement is stagnant, slow and they run and slice through us. We’re a few goals down in the last quarter but willpower and luck gets us a narrow win.

However much I want scenario one, I’m thinking it’ll be an uninspiring tight contest and we’ll limp across the line. Lions by 8.
 

lioninthesand

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DANGER GAME. They are playing with no expectations while this is a season on the line game for us. They also are in good form. We should win but we always make these games harder than they need to be. Got a real Sydney round 1 feel about it.
 

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fugitive

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They pushed Sydney to the brink who had previously disposed off us and Tigers with ease so can’t doubt their form. We really ought to start putting in a 4 quarter performance and not allow the dangerous trend of letting teams jump on us and then play catch-up.
 

Pacman82

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Nice preview. The question "Can we adjust to the new rules or have they completely destroyed our territory, contested, zonal footy?" is an interesting one, we tried chipping it around far too much at Ballarat & came undone. We clearly didn't tackle enough & giving away undisciplined free kicks combined for a negative result as well. However, I'm sure we'll be able to find the drop of the ball and actually get it over to Joe this time round without the blustery conditions. A couple of snags from young Charlie should be on the horizon too, be nice to see him up & about again as well!
 

Dalions

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This game, we should just clear out the forward line and leave Joe and Charlie deep and give them some space.
This could be the game that will make Joe feel like a Lion or make him second guess his decision.
He and Charlie could tear the game apart if we get the ball in there quick and precise.
 

jjami15

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It’s between the ears this game. If we bring the intensity we win if we drop off we lose. As said we are better on paper but that can mean absolutely nothing if we are not at the level required. ATW has caused us mayhem previously and also their run from the backhalf but they don’t really have that now. It will be an interesting game that is for sure.
 

SonnyBoy1

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If we don't inject more speed and creativity into this team (especially the backline) then this will become a danger game.

Ins: Answerth and maybe Coleman
Outs: Birhcall and maybe T.Berry

Need a big win here to get the season back on track.
 

jackess

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If we don't inject more speed and creativity into this team (especially the backline) then this will become a danger game.

Ins: Answerth and maybe Coleman
Outs: Birhcall and maybe T.Berry

Need a big win here to get the season back on track.
I don't think the opposition will be too worried when Answerth has the footy
 

jackess

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If we matched the opposition's intensity in the first half as we have in the second halves we could have beaten Geelong and Bulldogs

I don't think it's all doom and gloom for our game plan especially if Neale finds form but we continue to risk getting exposed unless we improve in a few key areas and turn up on time
 

wantok

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If we matched the opposition's intensity in the first half as we have in the second halves we could have beaten Geelong and Bulldogs

I don't think it's all doom and gloom for our game plan especially if Neale finds form but we continue to risk getting exposed unless we improve in a few key areas and turn up on time
After watching the replay I believe we actually started well against the Dogs but did not convert our chances. Our first 10 were good. They received a dubious deliberate oob free and goaled that got them on the board. They then adjusted their forward structure with English and Naughton leading up and out positioning Darcy and Harris.

On CPH1920 using BigFooty.com mobile app
 

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Jason mp

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Interesting question raised on one of the footy shows over the weekend re Collingwood, who is their best run and carry player with the departure of Tom Phillips, Jaidyn Stephenson and Adam Treloar? Got me thinking about the same question for us.

Zac Bailey, Zorko, who else? McCluggage? Rich? Charlie if playing on the wing/up the ground?

Has been a definite area of need for us over the last few seasons but we have covered it very well, the new rules seem to be catching us out and watching the better sides so far this season their mainly run and gun style has been stark compared to ours.
 

Ceebee

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Watching Lachie struggling this year makes me appreciate just how awesome he has been for us the previous two years .
Wouldn’t have made finals without him .
Let’s hope he recovers from his injury, we sorely miss his brilliance and it must be very hard for him not to be able to play at his best at the moment .
 

Quigley

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It is interesting how many people are fixated on getting Answerth back into the team. I am not sure what answer people are expecting him to provide. He is a good defensive small defender who is a below average kick and provides limited run from defence. His role was taken by Starcevich who is a bit bigger and a bit better kick. If he replaces Lester he will give us better pace but nothing else that I can see.

If we wanted to try and provide better run from defence I think we would be better off trying Madden or Prior. Madden is not as good a one on one defender but he is exceptionally quick and he recovers very well. His skills are pretty good and once he gets confidence I expect him to provide some good run. Prior was tried on the wing but I like him more behind the ball. He would not provide the defensive skills that Answerth would but offensively he would help. We have already established that Ah Chee offers nothing going forward.

The changes for me would be:

Out: Lester, Fullarton
In: Madden, E Smith

I would also give the team and Charlie a rocket and get them running and working harder. In the middle of the ground I move Zorko forward more and when he is in the midfield I would have him more on the outside. Bailey I also move outside more and play he and Smith on the wings. The inside time there I give Berry Sr and Robertson (give us a chance to see what he can do playing the position he is most suited to).

The forward line would be smaller and more mobile and I would be having team fines / running penalties for any small forward who gets less than 4 tackles. We need to get some pressure on in the front half. Berry Jnr cannot do it on his own. Speaking of I would give him another week given he did a very good defensive job last week. I would be sitting him on Ridley this week but telling him that he needs to be more of a factor offensively. 4 disposals and no shots on goal is not enough.

Down back I give the primary talls to Adams and Gardner and try and free up Andrews. I also get them trying to move the ball quicker and use the more dangerous targets. If they are going to switch they need to do it more quickly before the opposition adjusts. Use the central corridor if it is there but try and get more width in the game as well to allow more space up the field to run into. Madden should be given license to use his pace and get forward on runs.
 

Nunez

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It is interesting how many people are fixated on getting Answerth back into the team. I am not sure what answer people are expecting him to provide. He is a good defensive small defender who is a below average kick and provides limited run from defence. His role was taken by Starcevich who is a bit bigger and a bit better kick. If he replaces Lester he will give us better pace but nothing else that I can see.

If we wanted to try and provide better run from defence I think we would be better off trying Madden or Prior. Madden is not as good a one on one defender but he is exceptionally quick and he recovers very well. His skills are pretty good and once he gets confidence I expect him to provide some good run. Prior was tried on the wing but I like him more behind the ball. He would not provide the defensive skills that Answerth would but offensively he would help. We have already established that Ah Chee offers nothing going forward.

The changes for me would be:

Out: Lester, Fullarton
In: Madden, E Smith

I would also give the team and Charlie a rocket and get them running and working harder. In the middle of the ground I move Zorko forward more and when he is in the midfield I would have him more on the outside. Bailey I also move outside more and play he and Smith on the wings. The inside time there I give Berry Sr and Robertson (give us a chance to see what he can do playing the position he is most suited to).

The forward line would be smaller and more mobile and I would be having team fines / running penalties for any small forward who gets less than 4 tackles. We need to get some pressure on in the front half. Berry Jnr cannot do it on his own. Speaking of I would give him another week given he did a very good defensive job last week. I would be sitting him on Ridley this week but telling him that he needs to be more of a factor offensively. 4 disposals and no shots on goal is not enough.

Down back I give the primary talls to Adams and Gardner and try and free up Andrews. I also get them trying to move the ball quicker and use the more dangerous targets. If they are going to switch they need to do it more quickly before the opposition adjusts. Use the central corridor if it is there but try and get more width in the game as well to allow more space up the field to run into. Madden should be given license to use his pace and get forward on runs.
Respectfully disagree RE Ah Chee. While I don't think playing as a back is his best position, it's remiss to say he offers nothing moving forward. He is a strong offensive player but very clearly needs to play higher up the ground. I think the club are on board with that now too, and Cal will likely spend some time adjusting in the VFL before getting his chance to return.
 

pod17

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I am surprised by the calls for Birchall to be dropped. He was far from our worst. Charlie certainly did look disinterested, and needs to find some form quickly. Hopefully the coaching staff find a way to get him involved early.

However, I was most disappointed with Zorko, and have been for several weeks. He is finding the football, but his decision-making and selfishness (both with ball in hand and working back the other way) have not been up to standard as a leader of the club. There were multiple instances of him kicking long at goal instead of lowering the eyes, wheeling back into traffic instead of giving first hands, and him not chasing his man to stop the Dogs run-ons.

He needs to set a better example for those around to follow.
 

KissKiss

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And I know its still very unlikely for Fagan to change the game plan and team structure, but I still think we are carrying one or 2 too many tall player. Still not certain we need the third tall forward (although McStay would be an upgrade) or the extra back in one of Gardiner, Lester or Adams. Would much rather at least one of them as an additional midfielder. Just looking at the best teams this year and its clear that we need more run
 
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