Lions' Last Chance

Source Darren England/The Courier Mail
Dayne Zorko kicked two goals last weekend. Image courtesy of Darren England/The Courier Mail
Last Five Matches

Round 13, 2013 – Brisbane Lions 103 d Geelong 98 at The Gabba
Round 5, 2012 – Geelong 79 d Brisbane Lions 41 at The Gabba
Round 17, 2011 – Geelong 133 d Brisbane Lions 104 at The Gabba
Round 17, 2010 – Geelong 127 d Brisbane Lions 64 at Skilled Stadium
Round 8, 2010 – Geelong 155 d Brisbane Lions 74 at The Gabba


Form

     Rd 18       Rd 19       Rd 20       Rd 21       Rd 22   
Geelong    W  L  W  W  W
Brisbane    L  W  L  W  W

Geelong tuned up for finals footy with a comprehensive 44-point win over Sydney at Simonds Stadium last Saturday night. The Swans did lose Rhyce Shaw and Daniel Hannebery to injury early on, but the Cats could scarcely have been more impressive with winners all over the ground. After a bumpy run last month, the Cats have now won three straight.

Brisbane is clinging to hopes of their season continuing past this weekend thanks to Essendon’s disqualification from the finals. The Lions have won six of their past eight, and both matches since Michael Voss’s departure. After streeting out to a 57-point lead against the Bulldogs last Sunday, Brisbane almost conspired to lose the game as they managed just 2.8 in the second half.

The momentum swung in that game markedly when Daniel Merrett was taken off with a season-ending ankle injury. Former Hawk Jordan Lisle comes in for him, with inside midfielder Brent Moloney also making his way back in to the team. Trent West replaces Nathan Vardy in the ruck for Geelong.


Key Men

(Cats) Paul Chapman – After four months out with a hamstring injury and a few weeks in the VFL, Paul Chapman finally stepped out for just his fifth AFL match of the season. Starting as the substitute, Chapman had two stints on the ground thanks to Nathan Vardy’s first quarter concussion. He finished with 14 touches and a goal, which probably got the loudest cheer of the evening. There are no guarantees that the 31-year-old will be part of Geelong’s best 22 come finals time, but it’s hard to ignore the claims of a triple premiership winner, Norm Smith Medallist and two-time All-Australian.

(Lions) Dayne Zorko – The Lions aren’t exactly a free-scoring team, but they kicked 13.2 in the first half against the Bulldogs. Two of the best came with a pair of back-to-back running goals from Dayne Zorko late in the second term. With the likes of Harry Taylor patrolling the Cats’ backline, and a dearth of key forwards with Jonathan Brown and swingman Daniel Merrett out, it will probably be up to Brisbane’s small forwards to boot the majority of its goals. Zorko has that ability and his tackling pressure in the forward half is first class, too.


Prediction

For two-and-a-half quarters, Geelong absolutely blitzed Brisbane at the ‘Gabba earlier this season. Coming off the bye and a week on the Gold Coast, the Cats seemed to swing back in to holiday mode as the game wore on and Brisbane pounced, pulling off one of the great comebacks in AFL history to win by five points. Geelong has won 48 of its last 50 matches at home, which well and truly qualifies Simonds Stadium to be labelled a fortress in the football world. Just two of those defeats have come by less than three goals, which gives you an indication of the task ahead of Brisbane. The Cats have won 10 of the last 12 against the Lions, and even though Brisbane’s season will still be alive at the opening bounce, the home side will have sucked the life out of it by the end.
Geelong by 48 points .

Click here to bet on AFL Round 23 matches