Matthew Leuenberger is an important inclusion for Brisbane. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Darren England
Last 5 Meetings
Round 21, 2012 – Brisbane Lions 95 d Adelaide Crows 85
Round 20, 2011 – Adelaide Crows 110 d Brisbane Lions 105
Round 10, 2011 – Brisbane Lions 101 d Adelaide Crows 61
Round 20, 2010 – Adelaide Crows 104 d Brisbane Lions 97
Round 9, 2010 – Adelaide Crows 93 d Brisbane Lions 81
You can’t emphasise how bad the Brisbane Lions were last weekend. Full marks to the Bulldogs for the pressure they put the NAB Cup champions under, but Michael Voss looked perplexed, at times, in the coaching box as his team turned the ball over with monotonous regularity and sprayed it all over the place in front of goal in a humiliating 68-point loss . Brenton Sanderson couldn’t have been too much happier as his team was thrown out of its stride by an Essendon team which looked as though it wanted to take out on the Crows its growing frustration at the drug scandal which has engulfed the club.
Both sides were smashed in the middle in round one, which was especially surprising for the Crows as they were the number one contested possession side in the league last season. Patrick Dangerfield was blanketed by Heath Hocking after quarter time and he can expect another torrid time with tagger Andrew Raines coming back in to the Lions 22 for this match. He wasn’t the only passenger in the midfield and the likes of Taylor Walker up forward should see better service in the forward line this weekend. Highly-rated rookie Brad Crouch has been picked for his AFL debut while goalsneak Ian Callinan comes in to the side.
Brisbane will run out with a slightly different looking side for the first Saturday twilight match at the ‘Gabba. Along with Raines, ruckman Matthew Leuenberger sees his first action of the season after 12 months out with an Achilles injury. Ryan Lester also comes in to the side with young big men Billy Longer and Aaron Cornelius dropped, while experienced backman Matt Maguire misses out due to a calf injury.
(Lions) Daniel Rich – You could have been mistaken for thinking Daniel Rich wasn’t even on the turf at Etihad Stadium last weekend, such was the run-with job Nick Lower did on him. Eight kicks and one mark is a long way off the standards he set in 2012 and in this year’s pre-season. In a midfield with just one genuine inside player (Brent Moloney), Rich is one of the club’s better ball-winners and the Lions need him to be getting his hands on the Sherrin and utilising his thumping left foot on Saturday.
(Crows) Scott Thompson – Even though Patrick Dangerfield got most of the attention last weekend, Scott Thompson had a rare quiet night against the ‘Dons. Last season in the round 21 match against the Lions, he came in to the game on the back of a very lacklustre effort against Freo, then ripped to Brisbane to shreds in the opening term before finishing with 32 touches and seven marks. Expect a similar comeback from the Crows vice-captain. In his last three games against the Lions he has racked up an average of 35 disposals per match.
Brisbane has won six of its last eight at home, and that run includes the surprise 10-point win against the Crows last season. At one stage in that match Adelaide led by as much as 38 before clocking off after quarter time and allowing its opponent back in to the contest. Four of the last five clashes between these sides have been decided by two kicks or less, and given their opening round efforts, expect plenty of tenacity from both sides. Brisbane couldn’t handle the Bulldogs’ pressure last week, and they’ll get more of the same against Brenton Sanderson’s side. Adelaide didn’t miss out on last year’s grand final by a smidge for no reason, though, so they might just sneak home in another tight encounter. Crows by 11 points
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