May
4
2008

Brisbane Lions vs. Geelong Cats Match Report

The Lions first match in Victoria for the year and an opportunity to travel down to Geelong and take a walk down memory lane to watch a game at suburb footy ground. Standing room only for general admission, so it was a long day mingled amongst the cagey locals. There were a few Lions fans around, but I felt like I was the only one making any noise (are we the most passive supporters in the AFL?). This was my third game of the season, having travelled north to watch the Magpie and Swans games earlier in the year. There were no expectations as I rode the v/line express to South Geelong station, I headed to the ground knowing that we would probably by missing at least three of our captains, maybe even four. The task of beating the reigning premiers on their own patch while severely undermanned something I would never have expected our young side to pull off. All I was looking for were some positives and the margin not to blow out.

The first quarter was probably the best quarter I have seen us play all season, even better than that Port Adelaide last quarter. We made Geelong crumble, we had them rattled, we had the crowd silenced and frustrated. Unfortunately, at quarter time I got the feeling that like it wasn’t sustainable after last weeks heat sapping day, a short turn around and our inability to punish Geelong as much as we should have.

The first three quarters were phenomenal, it just makes me so proud of our team and what we are doing to watch us play like that. Our brand of football is starting to evolve into something that is very exciting to watch. When you see young guys like Adcock, Rischitelli, Stiller, Harding and Proud bursting through packs of players wanting the ball more than their opponents, you realise why Leigh Matthews is such a great coach. He installs a culture of hardness at the football and a deep want to win it; you sense the players know that if they don’t put their head down, they won’t be getting a game next week.

The last quarter was obviously a disappointment, two weeks in a row our 4th quarter effort simply hasn’t been good enough. We are yet to play 4 solid quarters for the season (maybe the Collingwood game was close). I don’t think that is far off though, we were missing some champion players against the Cats, and maybe with them we might have gone closer with them in the side. However, I think by not having them in the side today we learned a lot about our team and they probably learned a lot about themselves.

One final talking point before I do a bit of a player summary, the Lions looked great in their new ‘Melbourne’ jumper. I’m a Victorian base fan who didn’t support Fitzroy, I really like the jumper not for what it represents of our past, but just because it is really attractive to look at. While I don’t believe that we are in any way obligated to honour Fitzroy with this jumper. The fact is that a lot of young Lions fans like myself have been supporters of the Brisbane Lions for a longer period of their life than they were of their former team anyway. However, I can imagine how an old Fitzroy fan will feel to see the team running around in the top. That said, I think everyone can enjoy this one. The players really stand out on the field in the red and its great from a viewing perspective when you are live at the ground. Of course, we are maroon, gold and blue at heart and for any finals, even in Melbourne I think that is what we should be wearing.

The Backline
Had just about their best game of the season today. Joel MacDonald has been consistent all year, he had another great game and we are almost coming to expect that he is going to provide drive for us out of the back half every week. If he has one weakness it is that he can get turned inside out at times. Merrett and Patfull stood up and did really manful jobs on Hawkins and Mooney. They had some help from the pressure applied up the field, but they deserve that. Merrett seemed like he really grew in the second half making many great spoils and even taking a few very solid marks. Selwood on Johnson was intriguing, I think Selwood had the points until late in the game. It is just such a shame that Selwood is solely a shut down tagger and can’t use the football as well as his brothers. Sherman had a pretty good game, he made a few turnover blunders, but the fact that he is starting to find the football and use it fairly well is a good sign.

The Middle
The rucks provided a solid contest all day, it was rare that Geelong were able to bring it down to advantage and get a clean break out of the centre. There were a truck load of re-bounces in the middle after the ball was immediately wrapped up from a centre bounce. You can’t be disappointed with the clearances, but when you look at the ruckmen that our two guys were up against I think we could have expected a few more taps to our advantage and even more clearances.

The leader of the midfield today was Power; any lingering question marks on his leadership had to be put to rest today. He was our only remaining captain out there and he played like a true leader, by far our best on ground in my opinion. He had some great spells in the forward line, something I actually look forward to seeing more of in the next few years as he gets older and spends less time in the midfield. He is and always has been such a great finisher in front of goal. When Power was up forward it was Adcock that showed he is a future captain of our club in my opinion. He played his best game of the year, his attack on the footy and use of it set a precedent for his team mates.

I think you can lump Stiller and Rischitelli together in that they had very solid games, they are capable of better, but we aren’t going to get that every week. I would call both of their efforts ‘on par’ with what should be expected of them every week.

Brennan did some absolutely amazing things, however he went missing for extended periods of the game. He needs to kick a few goals to get some confidence in front of the sticks, he has been woeful with his shots at goal this year.

Harding and Proud had relatively indifferent games. One thing I certainly will not do is question their hardness and tackling. If they can improve their usage of the football and their decision making when they have it I think they can be permanent members of the side.

After a great game last week, Notting was very good again this week. We need this output from him every week, not just sparsely throughout a season.

The Forwards
Bradshaw had amazing job done on him by Scarlett, with Browny out of the side you would have expected Bradshaw to have players dropping in front of him and double teaming him all day. This wasn’t really the case though, Bradshaw was just beaten one on one, simple as that. What was pleasing though is that Clark stepped up enormously, exactly like the last few weeks where brown has been quiet and Bradshaw on fire, this week it was Bradshaw quiet and Clark on song.

I think Henderson needs to be shown the video tape of Clark’s game actually. He did everything that Clark didn’t. I know that Clark is further progressed and Hendo is a first year player, but Clark led for the ball and demanded it on his chest. Hendo made so many half hearted leads and his time was so far off at times. Part of the reason for our stagnation in the back half, chipping it around at times was because Hendo had led too early and then proceeded to call for the ball to be kicked back over his head.

Ashley McGrath, I’m not calling for his head just yet. He was robbed of a ripper goal from the boundary after it was called back for a free kick I think Charman gave away. He is still finding his feet back at senior level; he was off the ground injured for part of the game. I think he did just enough to keep his spot.

Hooper and Corrie had quieter games in terms of offence than they did last week, but their pressure was a catalyst in the first half. I think McGrath needs to take a look at these guys as a benchmark for defensive work.

The clock is ticking for Copeland in my eyes, I know he was shutting down Chapman for most of the day and his tackling was decent, but for a player of such experience we need more from him.

Frustration
Our kick-ins are by far our biggest weakness. We are really missing Drummond and to an extent we missed Johnstone against Geelong I guess. There are two main problems as I see it, the first one is that players up the field are failing to set-up to create space to run into and they are failing move for their team mates and give them a target. Secondly, the foot skills and decision making of Merrett, Selwood, Brennan and a few others really lets us down. These players crumble when they are forced to stop and think and try and pinpoint targets, we look that much better when we just play on straight away and bang the ball forward. It really does help when we have Drummond and Begley playing in the back half as they both have booming boots that can penetrate the defensive wall that the opposition set up.

My Votes

5 – Power
4 – Adcock
3 – Patfull
2 – Merrett
1 – Brennan

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

1 Comment + Add Comment

  • I think Geelong was lucky to be only 1 goald behind at quarter time. You outplayed us for 3 quarters – I guess what that shows is that Geelong can still keep in touch even when they are being outplayed. Good signs.

    Was a sloppy game to watch from a Geelong perspective. Way too many easy goals and open men for you guys and a severe lack of hitting targets from the Cats.

    Interesting to see who plays in the Dream Team game next week.

    Although I complained a fair bit, standing was a great experience. You can say that after a nice night’s sleep.

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