The Brisbane Lions are at long odds to get a result in Saturday afternoon’s away match, against 2016 premiers, the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
The Bulldogs are coming off a tight win against lowly North Melbourne and a loss to Fremantle, which will give the young Brisbane outfit some optimism.
Club legend Bob Murphy’s 300th AFL match will give the red, white and blue extra motivation to ensure they beat 15th placed Brisbane.
The Lions have not struggled to find the goals, averaging 81 points per game in the first four rounds, but have failed to maintain a consistent performance over four-quarters.
In: Ryan Hardwood, Ryan Bastinac, Liam Dawson.
Out: Rohan Bewick, Tom Bell, Tom Cutler.
In: Shane Biggs
Out: Travis Cloke
Travis Cloke will be missing in this weekend’s clash due to a rib complaint and is replaced by versatile premiership player Shane Biggs.
Cloke has had a decent start to his career at Whitten Oval, adding a new dimension to the Bulldogs already potent forward line.
The tall forward kicked an important goal in the Bulldog’s nail-bitting, Good Friday’ win over North Melbourne, and his presence in the forward fifty draws in defenders allowing his teammates to find space.
Lion’s midfielder Liam Dawson has been named to play in his first match for the 2017 season, after some strong form in the NEAFL.
Dawson may be used down back in-order-to stem the flow of goals for the Lions, who have conceded over 100 points in each of their past three matches.
Former Captain and key on-ball player Tom Rockliff has returned to form, and appears to be back on board with the team’s culture after a falling out at the end of last season.
Rockliff was the Lions’ best against Richmond in round 4 racking up 33 disposals and 15 clearances.
The Coaches’ Thoughts
Speaking to media on Thursday, first-year Lions coach Chris Fagan said his side have learnt a lot about the Bulldogs system after they beat them in the JLT-Community series.
“We’re assuming we’re going to be playing the best Bulldogs outfit in the very best form they can be in,” he said.
“They’re probably not in the form they were in in the finals last year but on their day, they’re capable of anything,”
At his press conference, Western Bulldogs Coach Luke Beveridge said there is no doubt Bob Murphy’s teammates will be inspired by his 300-game feat, when they run out to play on Saturday.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t get too emotional about the whole thing,” he said.
“It’s a monumental effort to claw your way back to this level, as a 34-year-old, after doing an ACL injury.
“To be playing the level of football he is playing again, it’s a great achievement.”
With the odds and most football pundits stacked heavily against the Lions, it is hard to foresee any result other than a loss.
What coach Chris Fagan will be hoping for is a consistent performance over the journey and fewer drastic momentum swings, which cost the Lion’s in their loss to Richmond last week.
Under the roof at Etihad, against a developing outfit, the Dogs’ danger men such as Tom Boyd and Jake Stringer may well kick a bag of goals.
When and Where
1:45pm AEST, Saturday April 22, 2017
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
TV: 7mate in Queensland, Fox Footy, check local Guides.