Of the two games this weekend, I think this one holds the most potential to be a dead-set ripper. The physicality and grit that GWS showed in their win over the Dogs last week was riveting stuff to say the least, and Brisbane will come out breathing fire after their loss against the rampaging Tigers.
The two have never met in the finals, Brisbane haven’t played in a final since Johnny Howard returned for a fourth term as PM. Their most recent meeting was at Showground Stadium in July, and saw Brisbane take the chocolates, running out victors 94-74. Lachie Neale (31 disposals, 1 goal) and Stephen Coniglio (34 disposals, 11 tackles) were the main protagonists.
The Giants aren’t the young upstarts they once were when they first arrived on the AFL dais, on the contrary – they have a number of battle-hardened players who, as we saw last week against the Dogs, look to be using some physical tactics to shake the tag of perennial under-achievers, yes, the behaviour of Toby Greene (should’ve got weeks) was despicable, but it was indicative of the Giants’ mindset – they were physical at every contest, and en masse.
Conversely, the young Lions are the newcomers to the finals stage – and are relatively young to boot, sure they have old stagers like Hodge and Martin who are large units and themselves physically imposing, but one wonders whether they will be found wanting in the face of such a physical examination.
Accuracy in front of the sticks
Brisbane have this year been fairly accurate in front of goal, so they’ll be hoping that last weeks efforts were an aberration – kicking just 1.7 from 40m or closer, they will need to be better if they are to make it to the prelim.
Against the Dogs, the Giants won the inside 50 battle 76-37, an absolute demolition in terms of that stat. This was done mainly by negating the influence of the Dogs on-ball brigade and having numbers and spread at the contest to slingshot back to their end. They will look to replicate that on Saturday, The Lions will look to do it through speed and slick movement – setting up (hopefully) a finals midfield battle for the ages.
Mitch Robinson looks a new player since transitioning to a full time wingman, and has played no small part in the Lions’ resurgence. With his strain ruling him out this week, McCluggage will be working overtime to help the Lions in transition. For the Giants, Tomlinson returns at the unfortunate expense of Brett Deledio, whose constant calf issues have sadly ruled him out.
The Lions haven’t had much to cheer about since 2004, so you can bet your bottom dollar that members (and a heap of bandwagoners, no doubt) will be out in force to help get their men over the line. Early goals from Charlie Cameron will be what gets the crowd up and about, if that happens it will be game on well and truly.
Lachie Neale vs Matt de Boer
The two former team-mates are likely to go head-to-head. Neale has been a major cog in the Lions meteoric rise to the top 4 this year, and will be identified as the one to stop by the Giants coaching staff. Matt de Boer is one of the games premier stoppers – he does his work week in, week out, quietly and efficiently, he bobs up to kick the odd goal, and is a good extractor himself. One would think that this midfield battle could set the tone.
Make no mistake, if one of Charlie or Jeremy get off the chain, that team will be hard to stop. Both have a strut, a menacing presence that seems to be amplified when they are “on”. Charlie will be hoping to shake off the Dylan Grimes shaped demons of last week, Jezza will look to stamp his authority as a finals performer.
I’m going to go against the grain here and say that the Giants will get it done. Their brutality and spread last week was phenomenal, and Robinson out for the Lions is a huge dent.
GWS by 14 points