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It’s a big game for the whole Lions forward line: Brisbane versus Bulldogs preview

It’s a big game for the whole Lions forward line: Brisbane versus Bulldogs preview

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It’s an interesting finals format in that we always get on the victors of the elimination final and dismiss the losers of the qualifying final.

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I understand it in this scenario as the Bulldogs had been in the top four until Brisbane stole it in the very last minute of the last round.

Brisbane snatching the fourth spot does give them the home-ground advantage rather than the game being at a neutral venue.

In the past three years, Brisbane have won 29 out of the past 34 games at the Gabba. Although it’s important to note three of those five losses have been finals.

Last time they met: Bulldogs 73 beat Lions 54
It is probably not relevant as it was back in Round 4 in Ballarat. The Bulldogs won comfortably by 19 points. A key factor in their win was Tim English playing forward, taking powerful marks inside 50 and having six shots at goal, kicking 3.3.

Even though Stefan Martin is currently not playing they’ve persisted with Tim English forward. They should do the same for this game.

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Where the match will be won
I understand it’s a bit of a cliché but the match will be decided in the midfield. Both midfields are very assertive in the attacking sense with their disposals resulting in goals.

Hugh McCluggage leads the competition for goal assists with 29. Jack Macrae is second with 26. The respective captains Dayne Zorko and Marcus Bontempelli are fourth and fifth respectively.

The Brisbane midfield is good when they’ve got in their own terms. They didn’t against Melbourne. They failed in the defensive transition, putting pressure on the defence.

Whichever team can gain ascendancy in this area will go a long way to winning the match.

It’s a big game for Joe Daniher
In fairness to Daniher it’s a big game for the whole Lions forward line.

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Joe Daniher of the Lions celebrates after kicking a goal

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Daniher’s had a good year, kicking 45 goals. However, losing his two fellow key forwards in Daniel McStay and Eric Hipwood has hurt Brisbane’s structure.

A positive for Brisbane is they do have a variety of players to score goals (Charlie Cameron 52, Lincoln McCarthy 36 and Zac Bailey 29). If Daniher can fire, it could be key for the Lions.

It’s a big game for Caleb Daniel
Caleb Daniel is precise with his kicking and links up well to springboard a lot of Bulldogs attacks.

The Lions’ defence is not overly quick. If they allow Daniel free space to pick his options, he and Bailey Dale could slice Brisbane up.

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Key match-up: Marcus Adams versus Aaron Naughton
Former Bulldog Marcus Adams to take on Aaron Naughton is a huge contest in the context of the game.

Marcus Adams has shown throughout this year, before he got injured, that he can do the job on power forwards.

Naughton is a very difficult proposition for defenders. He’s second in the competition for contested marks with 55.

Aaron Naughton

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

The way he jumps at the footy is very difficult to stop and he started to get that spring back against Essendon. The Brisbane defenders cannot afford to give as much leg rope as they did to Melbourne on Saturday.

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Key match-up: Brandon Starcevich versus Cody Weightman
Livewire Weightman is difficult to stop. One of the reasons why he’s so damaging is when he gets a goal-scoring chance, he often converts.

Starcevich has been a very good lockdown defender this year. He will need to be on top of his game.

Key match-up: Easton Wood versus Charlie Cameron
Cameron has been in very damaging form of late, kicking five goals on Saturday night from limited opportunities.

I expect Easton Wood to be the match-up. It will go a long way to deciding the match given the lack of Brisbane’s tall forwards.

Prediction: Brisbane Lions by ten points.

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