AFL Round One 2019: Brisbane v West Coast – Five Reasons to Watch

Eddie Langtree tells us why we should tune in to the Brisbane v West Coast clash this weekend.

Brisbane are one of the golden haired boys of the class of 2019 with most predicting significant improvement over recent years.  Lots of up and comers, some great ins via the trade and the draft and the Lions will be looking to skip a few rungs and give the eight a bit of a nudge.  Something they haven’t done since before the last year on the AFL ladder app.

Apparently is was 2009, thanks Wikipedia.So what better way to start a promising season than to take on the reigning premiers who have won the last five games by an average of 52 points.  The Eagles are a good unit, even across the ground with some big names and plenty of experience.  But there are some big names missing – Naitanui, Gaff, Kennedy, Lycett.  Simpson will have beaten anything resembling a hangover out of them.  But how good are the Lions really?

Last Five Meetings

2018Rd 23WCE14.14 (98)BL11.6 (72)Gabba
2017Rd 19WCE17.11 (113)BL6.9 (45)DS
2016Rd 13WCE20.11 (131)BL12.10 (82)Gabba
2016Rd 1WCE 26.10 (166)BL15.12 (102)DS
2015Rd 4WCE17.16 (118)BL9.11 (65)Gabba

Five Reasons to Watch

i) Where’s the runner?  

Not having a runner until after a goal is going to hurt both sides.  Historically these have been high scoring affairs but even if we get a repeat of Round 1, 2016 here 41 goals are scored, that’s ten runner interactions each quarter.  Brisbane have an inexperienced midfield and despite the presence of Captain Zorko and Lachie midfleld, they haven’t spent a lot of time together.  Lyons, McLuggage, Rayner are still kids.The Eagles midfield is pretty settled but you can’t pull out Lycett, drop in Hickey for two JLT games and expect them all to gel like eggs and Fraser Anning.  Both coaches will be half way down the race with five minutes to go, or worse coaching from the sidelines.

ii) Long bombs –

if there are two guys who will benefit from unhindered run from the defensive goal square it’s Shannon Hurn and Daniel Rich.  Both have massive hooves and give an extra twenty metres from a quick play on after a behind, expect both of them to be launching somewhere near the front (not the back) edge of the square.  Exhilarating stuff.  Jeff Fehring will be tearing up.

iii) Talls –

we got a great look at what Jack Darling can be early last season before he fell foul of injury.  He’s had a couple of yips in big games which will be tough to overcome but he can hold the forward line together even in the absence of Kennedy if he gets in one of his moods.  Hipwood at the other end provides a similar but completely different prospect for the Lions.  Tall, lean, great hands, fantastic at ground level and with a bit of cheek, possibly arrogance – certainly not short on confidence.  He could be anything and has blurred past the likes of Joe Daniher in the up and coming key forward stakes.  Time for him to take a game apart.

iv) Eagles smalls –

Jamie Cripps will be missing this week but that might even provide more opportunities for two of the best and exciting small forwards in Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan.  The forward line can be the Bermuda Triangle for an errant small forward but these boys can both play tall, take a good hang and be electric when they hit the ground.  Don’t blink.

v) Cubs –

if Ryan and Rioli are exciting, if you’re Brisbane, you’re super excited about Rayner, Berry, McLuggage and Witherden.  Look for the kids to take the next step.  Round 1 will go a long way to see if Chris Fagan has been able to light the wick under these young guns in progress.

The Verdict

Here’s my roughy for the weekend.  While the Eagles didn’t have Gaff or Naitanui in the Grand Final, they will be missing Kennedy and Lycett in Round 1.  How will a journeyman like Tom Hickey handle the ruck duties against the old pro Stefan Martin and is the balance there, keeping in mind, if the Eagles do have a weakness, it is midfield depth.  I’m going to jump on the Brisbane bandwagon early.  That way if it all turns to electrical tape and dirt by the end of the season, I can sneak off and everyone will have forgotten. Brisbane by 13

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