Brisbane v Adelaide
Irrespective of recent fortunes, Chris Fagan and the Brisbane Lions will be pinching themselves to be sitting on the cusp of a top-four position after eight rounds of the 2019 AFL men’s season, and despite a 16-point loss to the Bulldogs on the road last week, will approach fixtures all the way up to the bye with confidence.
Adelaide could and probably should have won by more in their Showdown with the Power but being outworked around stoppages helped Port keep the scoreline respectable after a potential blowout loomed as late as the final change. 3rd place is by no means the endgame for Don Pyke’s men, but the Crows that many predicted to rise dramatically this season have given their clearest indication of doing just that.
Jesse Robertson previews a crucial Gabba clash on Saturday afternoon as part of this week’s Featured Game for Play On Radio:
The Lions were in danger of capitulation following a dream 3-0 start to the season followed by two straight defeats to almost even the ledger, then had another two-game winning run broken at the hands of the Bulldogs last week at Marvel Stadium. Lachie Neale leads the AFL for total disposals and to describe his efforts as instrumental would be a momentous understatement, Efforts have been balanced up forward with four Lions registering double-digit goal tallies to this point, while Darcy Gardiner and Harris Andrews remain an underrated key defensive duo despite a losing effort against the white-hot Aaron Naughton.
The controversy surrounding Josh Jenkins’ omission from senior football a couple of weeks ago means little now with a resurgence in form rocketing the Crows towards the summit, while Jenkins will now miss several weeks with an old ankle injury flaring up. Staring down the barrel of another disappointing run at 1-3 and with leadership blamed for a lack of early results, the Crows have experimented with the likes of Elliot Himmelberg, strung four consecutive victories together and now Walker and company have been lauded in overcoming adversity.
Brisbane’s greatest strength lies in its core, as mentioned earlier off the back of Lachie Neale’s dominance in possession but Saturday’s game is a chance for the Lions midfield to take control against a high-flying side with an average of four more clearances per game than their visitors. Heavy forward pressure has been paramount to their position also as they sit comfortably averaging more than 13 tackles inside 50 per game, and Mitch Robinson’s attacking midfielder role has supplemented this nicely. His 16 disposals featuring 11 tackles (four inside 50) and five marks greatly aided in keeping the Lions competitive.
The Crows have shot up not only the ladder but the charts for several key statistics, most notably climbing to fourth for total effective disposals. Averaging 16.4 more per game than their opponents this week, earning a greater share of the ball in their own half could result in fast, devastating movement to the other end with running chiefs such as Rory Laird available, who may be called on to combat the influence of Charlie Cameron. Meanwhile, tall defender Alex Keath won Showdown medal honours for a stellar effort involving 26 disposals, 12 intercepts and seven rebound-50’s, and may be favoured in a potential duel with Lions spearhead Eric Hipwood.
The Crows might just be too red-hot to contain this week as they aim for five straight wins, and although the surprise packet hosts may be expected to battle until the final siren, Adelaide should dispatch them for another four points.
Crows by 20.