Brisbane have transformed themselves from a side clearly in the stages of a rebuild, to a team that is not only competitive, but a team you can’t see missing finals. While it looks as if they are starting to slow a little, their 7-6 record into the bye is something they can be extremely proud of.
For them, five more wins almost secures finals – for the first time in a long time. They have played footy that has sparked the AFL world, given Brisbane a breath of fresh air and has given glimpses of making the Lions great again.
They are 3-2 against top eight sides, including a win over the reigning premiers mind you. While a tough run home looms, they will be disappointed if they are unable to make the finals from here.
What’s gone right?
Their blooding of youth in the past few years, while tough at the time, has ultimately paid huge dividend. Players such as Alex Witherden, Hugh McGluggage, Lewis Taylor and Jarrod Berry have lifted their game two-fold.
Their coach, while becoming quite repetitive with his game plan and outlook on footy has ensured his message has been sunk in all players’ heads.
But their biggest improvement in my opinion is the simple fact that every player now seems like they have the potential to be an A-grader, simply because they play their role. Mitch Robinson has turned into a key cog in Chris Fagan’s lineup, as well as players like Dan McStay who has turned around his career.
Brisbane are a high scoring, entertaining side. A huge plus.
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What’s gone wrong?
What often happens to young sides on the rise, and what is no different here, is their struggles on the road. It seems as if their loss just two weeks ago to Carlton could be the catalyst for a disappointing end to the season, if they do indeed fail to miss the finals from here. A poor performance against Essendon included in this as well, where they were never in it.
Their depth also looks to be an issue. A few injuries to some key players and it may set them back a little. Stefan Martin, Luke Hodge and Eric Hipwood seem irreplaceable at the moment, their entire spine.
An obvious pick and one of the Brownlow favourites, it has to be Lachie Neale. Probably the best trade over the summer, Lachie Neale has come across to Brisbane and has not missed a beat.
He has arguably given Brisbane more output than if they had kept Dayne Beams – huge call and am interested to hear feedback on that. But his style of game has suited others around him, such as Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich, who is in career best form. His ability to win his own ball and be clean around the stoppages is setting Brisbane’s midfield apart.
Expect him to be in the Brownlow picture.
Their run home is very tough, but you would think they only need five more wins to secure a finals spot. Lock in wins at the GABBA vs Melbourne, North, Dogs and Suns and there is 11. They will have chances in other games that they’ll need to take in order to be considered a genuine contender, or they may be filling up spots in the 8.