Brisbane Lions v Western Bulldogs

Source Darren England/The Courier Mail
Mature-age rookie Dayne Zorko has been a shining light for the Lions this season. Source: Darren England/The Courier Mail

The Brisbane Lions can post a hat-trick of wins for the first time since the opening rounds of the 2010 season when they host the slumping Western Bulldogs at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon.

While the Lions are finishing the season strongly, the ‘Dogs have well and truly lost their bite.  Brendan McCartney’s young side has copped a series of floggings during its current ten-game losing streak, which started with a 58-point loss to Brisbane in Round 13.

Where it Will be Won – Tom Rockliff racked up a career-high 40 disposals against the Bulldogs earlier this season, but his numbers have dropped of late with coach Michael Voss playing him more across the forward line.  Jack Redden and Dayne Zorko have picked up the slack in the midfield, though, whilst maintaining their defensive pressure which sees them ranked second and third in the AFL for tackles.

The ‘Dogs big hope lies with Will Minson dominating in the ruck.  He averages 32 hitouts per game, almost as many as the Lions do as a team (34.2).  His tap work sees four teammates – Matthew Boyd, Tom Liberatore, Ryan Griffen and Mitch Wallis – sitting in the top 35 in the league for clearances, a number matched only by West Coast.  If Minson dominates ex-Bulldog Ben Hudson in the battle of the big men, the visitors might be in with a sniff, especially if Boyd and Griffen continue to post jaw-dropping disposal numbers, as they have done the past fortnight.

Prediction – The Lions are coming home with a wet sail and have won four of their last six at the Gabba, including victories over finals-bound Adelaide and West Coast.  Expect the inexperienced ‘Dogs to finish the season with little more than a whimper. Brisbane 39+

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