By Ollie Nash and Liam Melrose
The Lions ended a 15-game losing streak against Richmond in an impressive display on Friday night. Photo: Nine
Brisbane roaring with the Lions
After Friday night’s qualifying final between the Lions and Richmond it is clear that Brisbane are behind their team. Just over 22,000 people were in attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions in Queensland, however it sounded as if there were 50,000 at the match.
The Lions are 12-0 at the Gabba in 2020 and with their first preliminary final since 2004 in two weeks’ time, expect the Brisbane faithful to be just as vocal as they were in Friday night’s qualifying final. Small forward Charlie Cameron shook off Dylan Grimes, electrifying the crowd with three classy goals, as the Lions ended a 15-game losing streak to the Tigers.
The win showed us Brisbane has come a long way from the raw Lions of the 2019 finals, with 2020 arguably their best chance yet to win a premiership in a once in a lifetime opportunity on their home deck.
2020 is the year of the Rat in China, however in Australia it could be the year of the Lion, after they showed they are up to the fight, taming the Tigers in a famous qualifying final victory.
Collingwood defied all the odds for a famous win over the Eagles in Perth. Photo: Getty Images/AFL Photos
Beware Cats its Swooping Season
It’s swooping season and the ‘Dirty Pies’ have found some strong form. Being forced to quarantine in the week leading up to their elimination final clash with the West Coast Eagles in Perth, the Magpies were back to their best on Saturday night.
In arguably the match of the year Collingwood turned it on from the opening bounce with Mason Cox booting three goals in the first quarter. After that it was almost goal for goal all night. Brody Mihocek stepped up to kick three crucial goals, while Jordan De Goey impacted the scoreboard when it mattered most. The usual suspects in the middle of the ground in Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams and Scott Pendlebury were massive for Collingwood against the elite West Coast midfield.
Nobody gave the Magpies a chance against West Coast in Perth. However, after their one-point win they’ll take a lot of confidence into their semi-final clash with Geelong on Saturday night. It’s swooping season, and with the Cats out of form and their finals struggles continuing, the ‘Dirty Pies’ might just send them out of the finals in straight sets.
Steven Motlop proved to be one of the match winners for Port Adelaide over Geelong. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Role players stepping up
In every finals series in all sports around the world, the role players become the most important players on the ground. The stars will do their thing as they have all year, but what wins you big games at the end of the season are your bottom six players. Port Adelaide’s fringe guys were better than Geelong’s on Thursday night, led by former Cat Steven Motlop.
The 29-year-old kicked three timely goals from his 11 disposals to keep the Power’s lead over Geelong at a comfortable one. Come preliminary final time it may not be Motlop and instead might be a Todd Marshall or a Karl Amon. Either way, if these bottom tier players for any of the remaining clubs can fire, it puts their team in a great position.
Look at the Miami Heat in the NBA. Tyler Herro, one of their bench players, dropped 37 points in the Eastern Conference Finals. They have had other guys throughout the playoffs do the same and now they find themselves in the NBA Finals. These are the players that are just quietly some of the most important at this time of the season.
Paddy Ryder's hamstring injury was the one negative outcome of the Saints impressive win over the Dogs. Photo: AFL Photos
Dogs need impact over numbers
The Western Bulldogs are an extremely talented football team. They’re midfielders of Marcus Bontempelli, Bailey Smith, Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley, Lachie Hunter and Tom Liberatore is one of the best in the competition. On paper it’s stronger than St Kilda’s, but it’s clear that their impact isn’t where it needs to be.
The Dogs had the top four possession getters on the ground in their three-point loss to the Saints, and six of the top 10. What will help them win these finals however, is if these possessions become more impactful. Teams like Richmond have won games against top teams this season with no player having 20 disposals. They win because each disposal is effective and damaging.
The Bulldogs stars aren’t playing badly by any stretch, they just need to turn their 20 to 25 touches into line-breaking, impactful disposals.
Cover Photo: AAP