Port Try To End Lions' Finals Hopes

Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Sarah Reed
Kane Cornes returns to the Port Adelaide team this week. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Sarah reed
Last Five Matches

Round 22, 2012 – Brisbane Lions 104 d Port Adelaide 93 at AAMI Stadium
Round 15, 2011 – Brisbane Lions 99 d Port Adelaide 88 at The Gabba
Round 3, 2010 – Brisbane Lions 108 d Port Adelaide 81 at AAMI Stadium
Round 21, 2009 – Brisbane Lions 108 d Port Adelaide 92 at The Gabba
Round 14, 2009 – Port Adelaide 128 d Brisbane Lions 80 at AAMI Stadium


Form

     Rd 13       Rd 14       Rd 15       Rd 16       Rd 17   
Port Adelaide   W  W  L  L  W
Brisbane Lions    W    L  W  W  W

Port was so very lucky to get away with the four points when it withstood a withering second half burst from St Kilda to squeak home by five points at Etihad Stadium last Saturday night. Defeat there would have been the club’s third in a row after going down to top two teams Essendon and Hawthorn in the fortnight prior. The Power clearly missed veteran Kane Cornes who returns from a one-week suspension this week.

Brisbane had to fight for its victory over a plucky Melbourne side in Darwin. With Daniel Merrett operating up forward, the Lions’ backline suffered from a lack of speed, and this showed on several occasions as the Demons kept an open forward line and allowed their speed men to operate. Class prevailed in the end, but Brisbane’s players admitted to fatigue after returning to the Sunshine State, and it will be a big effort to back up in Adelaide on Sunday.

That win against the Demons was the Lions’ first in eight years achieved without premiership players Simon Black and Jonathan Brown. The latter returns from a hip injury this weekend, but Black is still off the paddock with a groin problem. Inside midfielder Brent Moloney has recovered from a calf injury, while young defender Mitch Golby returns to the side. Port is without defender Tom Jonas after he was suspended for three weeks for rough conduct, but the inspirational Kane Corners returns after he was rubbed out for one week.


Key Men

(Power) Kane Cornes – It took 13 years but Kane Cornes finally copped his first suspension after he was cited for rough conduct on Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell. After watching his team almost throw away victory against St Kilda, you can imagine the veteran will be doing everything in his power to get them across the line against Brisbane, one of a few teams that can knock Port out of the eight. He has been magnificent most of this season, but he does average four disposals less per game in his team’s losses compared to wins; if the Lions shut him down, they’ll go a long way towards winning this game. He just signed a one-year contract extension this week with the Power.

(Lions) Matthew Leuenberger – When you talk about the best ruckmen in the competition, Matthew Leuenberger’s name must surely now be thrown in the discussion. His tap work is exceptional and his mobility around the ground gives the Lions a massive target. He was massive against Melbourne with 19 disposals, nine marks and 38 hit outs. Port’s Matthew Lobbe is in good form, but this is a huge test for him.


Prediction

Neither of these teams were convincing last week, when they probably should have put their opponents away in a much more dominating fashion. Port is 5-3 in matches at AAMI Stadium this season, and those three losses came against good opposition in the form of Richmond, Geelong and Hawthorn. In saying that, all of those defeats were by 40-plus points. Brisbane is one club which shouldn’t fear going to the City of Churches; it has beaten Port on four of its last five visits to Adelaide, and the Lions have won the last three clashes between the teams. This is the most important contest between the sides since the 2004 grand final, and as they did on that occasion, the Power should be able to get over the line and extinguish the Lions’ hopes of an unexpected run at the finals. Asking Brisbane to travel the week after a punishing trip to Darwin might be too hard a task for Michael Voss’s men. Port Adelaide by 19 points .

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