Preview Round 12, 2018 - Brisbane vs. Essendon

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Requiem

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Match Details:

Round 12: Brisbane vs. Essendon
Sunday June 10, 1:10pm
The Gabba

Recent History:

Since 2014, Essendon has had a slight edge over Brisbane winning 3 of the last 5 matches, with 2 of those matches being decided by less than 12 points. In Fact since our club's inception, the ledger vs. Essendon is split at 14 - 1 - 14 from 29 matches. Under Fagan's tenure, the Lion's have been relatively competitive against the old enemy, with a close loss in R2 last season, and a historic comeback from 27 points down 13 rounds later. No better time than the present to seize the ascendancy.

Season So Far:


Heading into the season proper, both teams had expectations from the majority of 'pundits' for slight improvement. Many predicted Essendon to make finals again - potentially cracking the top 4 - given the talent level on their list, whilst Brisbane was expected to surpass wooden spoon expectations.

The reality has been very different, The Bombers have been inconsistent at best, hovering at a mid range level in several of the major statistical categories (I'll elaborate on that in the next sections), losing to many mid - lower positioned teams on the ladder. However the most perplexing things is that all four of Essendon's wins have been against premiership hopefuls, both South Australian teams, Geelong, and GWS. Additionally, Essendon had 3 representatives in 2017's All Australian team in Joe Daniher, Zac Merrett, & Michael Hurley. All of the aforementioned names have drastically dropped in form this season, with Daniher in particular stalling in his development with form struggles and recently sidelined with Osteitis Pubis.

Brisbane on the other hand has improved generally in most statistical categories over last season, without converting the gains into premiership points, sitting 17th on the ladder with only a solitary win heading into the round. If Brisbane had performed better in their opening quarters (worst in the league), they most likely would of had 4 wins to sit just under the Bombers, separated only by percentage. Fortunately, the blowout losses that have been a feature of our seasons for the last 5 years have all but disappeared, the lions in turn have become a fun to watch team playing an exciting brand of attacking football. Unsurprisingly, it's been our youth that has driven this change, lead by the likes of namely Hugh McCluggage, Harris Andrews, Darcy Gardiner, and co.

Statistics:

Statistically, the Bombers and the Lions aren't that far removed in most categories. On the one hand, Essendon dominated contested possessions averages (11th @ 143.4 vs. 15th @ 138.5), uncontested possessions (7th @ 230.2 v 12th @ 222.6) and tackle averages (4th @ 68.2 v 13th @ 61.6). On the other hand, Brisbane perform better in categories of center clearances (7th @ 12.8 v 14th @ 11.5), hitouts (5th @ 44.2 v 9th @ 39.4), and surprisingly enough - given our penchant for turnovers - disposal efficiency (6th @ 72.8 % v 12th @ 71.9). Additionally, in regards to clearances, rebound 50's, inside 50's, and goals, both teams are virtually evenly matched.

In my opinion, the story the stats are telling is the neither team has a major advantage over the other, both team's sets of stats are consistent with those of lower - mid bottom 10 finishing teams. Considering the previously mentioned point about Brisbane's close losses, that analysis doesn't seem too far off.

Round 12 Match:

With both teams coming off embarrassing performances against finals bound opposition and heading into their Byes next round, there is increased incentive for a win. Ultimately, Essendon want to level their playing record in order to build for an unlikely finals push, whilst Brisbane want some tangible reward for their overall consistent - but fruitless - efforts for the first half of the year. Moreover, we have started to turn the Gabba back into a mini fortress, with teams having to work hard for the win. In every match at home - with exception to the Sydney game - we have been in a winning position during the forth quarter.

Whilst this bodes well for the home ground advantage, our injury list of late does not. In the last three weeks, Brisbane has gone from boasting the best injury list in the AFL with 3 listed injuries to 12 wounded warriors at the start of this week. Most concerning of these is our 'heart and soul' Mitch Robinson with a broken toe (3 weeks) and Charlie Cameron ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn Lisfranc ligament.

The Bombers have been one of the more intriguing teams this season, having fallen short of most expectation. Consequently, Essendon have performed at their best as a team once they have been removed of the external expectation of winning. One area of play the Bombers do excel at is their tackling pressure (4th overall), and it comes as no surprise that when they win, they have usually won the tackle count decisively. Although Brisbane have improved over that last month in tackling, they have been inconsistent at times, like in the first half of the North game for example.

Irrespective of their 3 incumbent All Australians, they Bombers do have several key contributors. Recently, Dyson Heppell has started to improve in his ability to lead from the front as Captain, often being Essendon's best player. Jake Stringer's form in the last month is starting to resemble his best at the Bulldog's, gathering 29 disposals versus Richmond, and 3 goals against GWS. What is more, Devon Smith has been a tackling juggernaut since coming over from the Giants, leading all players for total tackles whilst averaging 20.9 possessions playing at half forward and rotating through the midfield.

While watching last week's Dream Time game, I noticed that Essendon struggled big time with Richmond's ability to move their defensive zone when The Bomber's half backs tried to rebound the ball, often forcing them to kick long to a contest. Essendon generally rely on a simple game plan of quick ball movement through the center corridor, force them wide and they struggle to adjust. In turn The Tigers had excellent player spacing, often forcing uneven numbers to attack the ball carrier, which in turn created plenty of forward space for their receivers once Richmond cleared the defenders.

At times during the regular season - think Hawthorn - Brisbane have displayed a similar ability to run and gun. When our players consistently hit their targets, with quick ball movement through the middle, few teams look more potent offensively. This in large part has been aided by one of our biggest areas of improvement - willingness to sheppard. I've noticed that in general we have cut down on easy, over the back goal that opponents were once generating with ease. This is also reflected by our rise in Disposal Efficiency rankings from 12th in 2017 to 6th in 2018.

Additionally, we finally have several good ball users setting up our attack off of the half back in Rich, Hodge, Witherden, and Andrews. Unfortunately our midfield leaves much to be desired at times, due to the lack of 24 - 27 year old who can perform up to the standards of modern footy. Despite the improvement of McCluggage, Taylor, and Berry, we still have to expect near BOG performance from the old brigade of Zorko, Beams, and Martin in order to seal a win. What is more, the untimely injury of Sir Charles Cameron has left us shallow in Small Forward depth in the forward line. Players like Ben Keays and Lewis Taylor can provide stop gap options, but are hardly long term answers. McStay has been a solid target as the third tall, but his inability to convert his set shots can also make him a liability at times, however I do think he does provide a structural purpose.

Conclusion:

Overall, Fagan has done a terrific job at getting the playing group to perform at a consistent level, especially in regards to bouncing back after the few disappointing games. Before the injury list was published, I would have penciled this match in as a win. Unfortunately the loss of experienced mid level players in Robbo and Cameron can have a deflating effect on the group. The bright side is that Essendon have struggled with expectation all season, hopefully they remain consistent in their form.


Lions by 8 points.
 
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Nunez

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#4
Well written preview!

Really hard to tip us without Cameron and Robbo (let alone Clugg and Berry if they don't get up). We've got a real warriors spirit this year, and we absolutely can win without them, but it will take our absolute best.
 

blynd_freddie

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#5
Great Preview :thumbsu:

I am typing this with one hand, fingers on the other and legs are crossed, so not to jinx us but

Fun Facts: from the 29 Brisbane Lions versus bombers games
  • WE have not had a zero goals 1st quarter
  • in only 6 of the 29 first quarters have we kicked LESS THAN 3 goals
  • and at the Gabba in the 11 previous games against ESS we average just over 90pts.
  • And in over half of these games we have scored 100+
Please don't jinx it.
 

jackess

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#6
We’ve been forced into a corner to actually have to shake things up for the first time in a couple of months. I think this will be a good thing. Give a few guys new roles. Possibly a bit more freedom.

I don’t think we’ll win but there’ll be a few more promising signs.
 

KissKiss

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#8
Interesting game this one. Definitely should be a chance at home but at the same time Essendon has been improving. Zaharakis is out I think which weakens their midfield more. Wasnt really a strength to start with.

For changes I'd be thinking:
Cameron > Mayes (perhaps Barrett as a tackling small forward)
Robinson > Berry (if fit - not upset if he needs a longer break) otherwise I would go Bell as the best performed mid in the twos for a while
McClugg (if out) > Bell/Lyons
Bundy (if out) > Basti/Hinge

Edit: Didnt realise that Cox was out too with a hammy. Maybe Starc could get a run even though his form has been down too
 
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HowYouDoin

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#10
We're going to get smashed. On the bright side, channel 7 will be showing this game on the main channel in Brisbane. Let's not **** this exposure up boys
 

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Ironmonger

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#13
We've had plenty of games in recent years where on paper we looked like a shot but simply didn't manage to produce much of our best footy. This year alone I'd say the St Kilda, GC and Bulldogs games fall into that category. At least we managed not to get smashed in any of those.

I'm worried this is going to be another lousy game of footy where we manage to be slightly worse than the opposition.

But our last three games have mostly been of a fairly high standard - even if our play hasn't always been of a high standard - so possibly it's something we're over. I'm still worried though.
 
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#14
Big chance to win this. Essendon have been stinking it up bar a couple of games. We are a 5 goal better team at the gabba. If berry & mcluggage are deemed fit to play we should bring them in. No need to be over cautious we should throw everything at a winnable game.

Mayes to come in, bring in a bit of positive hype around a 100th game. We don't get too many milestones (all lions games) so hope the club makes an early decision and promotes it.

Also think they should give more midfield time to Rayner in the absence of robbo.

So hopefully only Cameron & robbo out for berry & Mayes.
 

jackess

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Big chance to win this. Essendon have been stinking it up bar a couple of games. We are a 5 goal better team at the gabba. If berry & mcluggage are deemed fit to play we should bring them in. No need to be over cautious we should throw everything at a winnable game.

Mayes to come in, bring in a bit of positive hype around a 100th game. We don't get too many milestones (all lions games) so hope the club makes an early decision and promotes it.

Also think they should give more midfield time to Rayner in the absence of robbo.

So hopefully only Cameron & robbo out for berry & Mayes.
I worry a bit about how fatigued Rayner and Bailey will be after their first 3 months of footy. At least they can go hard this weekend and then have a week off.
 

KissKiss

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#16
I worry a bit about how fatigued Rayner and Bailey will be after their first 3 months of footy. At least they can go hard this weekend and then have a week off.
The bye is coming very soon but I would be amazed if they played out the year from here without extra breaks. If we hadnt had such a hit of injuries this week I would have supported giving one or the other a break this week even
 
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#17
The bye is coming very soon but I would be amazed if they played out the year from here without extra breaks. If we hadnt had such a hit of injuries this week I would have supported giving one or the other a break this week even
Bailey looked to drop off towards the end of last game, understandable with 1 on the bench. Rayner looks fine to me. His body was AFL ready from day 1. Wouldn't surprise me if he can play all 22. Taylor managed it in his first year.

I'm sure the club will manage things appropriately but the bye probably comes at a good time. Our run home looks much easier than the first 11 games not too many obvious games where you would sit a few players out
 

jackess

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Bailey looked to drop off towards the end of last game, understandable with 1 on the bench. Rayner looks fine to me. His body was AFL ready from day 1. Wouldn't surprise me if he can play all 22. Taylor managed it in his first year.

I'm sure the club will manage things appropriately but the bye probably comes at a good time. Our run home looks much easier than the first 11 games not too many obvious games where you would sit a few players out
Bailey played 90% game time on the weekend, 86% the week before but before that he averaged about 75%. He's mainly playing forward though probably to manage the distance he covers.

Similar to Rayner. Wouldn't mind both of them getting a rest at some point to allow them to play more midfield time.
 
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#19
Bailey played 90% game time on the weekend, 86% the week before but before that he averaged about 75%. He's mainly playing forward though probably to manage the distance he covers.

Similar to Rayner. Wouldn't mind both of them getting a rest at some point to allow them to play more midfield time.
Prob hawthorn in TAS & Geelong at Geelong would be the strategic rest games that stand out.

All.the rest I rate us as a realistic chance of winning. So best 22 should be played.
 

Nunez

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#21
The Mayes playing up forward is really becoming popular. Surely his best chance of securing his spot is to play where he did so well last year.
To be honest I am just enjoying the narrative of Mayes up front, but truth is he had some very effective games as a high half forward in the NEAFL so it is worth a punt. We need another avenue to hit he scoreboard and someone who can hit targets. Mayes was doing both at NEAFL level. Give him the opportunity I say!
 

Ironmonger

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#22
The Mayes playing up forward is really becoming popular. Surely his best chance of securing his spot is to play where he did so well last year.
We're well stocked for rebounding defenders right now, but it does seem like long term he's best off playing where he's played his best footy to date.

That said, while it worries me quite a bit that he hasn't been able to push his way back into the firsts so far, it'll worry me even more if he can't get back in in any capacity until late in the season. There wouldn't be too many mature players who spent that much time in the NEAFL and rebounded to have successful careers.
 

Nunez

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#23
We're well stocked for rebounding defenders right now, but it does seem like long term he's best off playing where he's played his best footy to date.

That said, while it worries me quite a bit that he hasn't been able to push his way back into the firsts so far, it'll worry me even more if he can't get back in in any capacity until late in the season. There wouldn't be too many mature players who spent that much time in the NEAFL and rebounded to have successful careers.
Every chance Fagan said "take a few weeks and find your confidence".
 
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