Brisbane v Geelong – The Stuff

What should’ve been an enthralling and high-scoring affair turned out to be a dour defensive struggle that looked uncompetitive for the majority of the match. It’s funny how things work out that way, isn’t it?

The Lions were smarting from blowing a golden opportunity to create separation between themselves and Melbourne and make a genuine run on the top two positions on the ladder last week. This week was back at their fortress of the Gabbatoir. Yes, people can bring up their finals record all they want, but Brisbane at the Gabba is akin to Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.

Speaking of Geelong, it was their turn to make the fateful trip up north. Coming off some strong form after dispatching finals fancy Essendon to the tune of 77 points, many gave them a chance. Although that win may have been a little bit dimmed given the Bomber performance against the Bulldogs on Friday night.

This match came down to one thing and it is the most cliché thing in football – want and desire for the contest. It’s like bootcut jeans. It comes in and out of fashion as styles change and new trends emerge, but bootcut jeans remain. Ever constant since their inception. Just like hunting the football and embracing the contest. Teams try and focus on certain skills or structures and tactics come and go, but footy essentially boils down to who wants it more.

And in this game, for the majority of it anyway, the Lions simply wanted it more. They won contested possessions and clearances by huge margins and were level in the tackle count. They’re the only stats you need to know about this one (other than the scoreboard).

Now let’s get into the stuff that mattered.


The Best Stuff


The Barbenhiemer

Topical, yeah? The Mongrel can keep it fresh as well.

The Barbenhiemer is the one-two punch to hang your team on, much like all of cinema is relying on “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” to save its sorry ass through ongoing nightmare PR wars with striking unions.

For the Lions, this is two men; Lachie Neale and Josh Dunkley

You see, Neale brings the people through the gates with his clean hands and ability to win the ball from anywhere, Dunkley brings that sense of impending doom and massive scale of destruction for the opposition.

The Cats had no real answer for the two of them outside of a dogged Patrick Dangerfield and a trying Tom Atkins. However, Neale and Dunkley held sway over this match, to the point where it looked like Rhys Stanley was hitting it to them half the time instead of his Geelong teammates. Hit it anywhere else Rhys, just stop hitting it to Lachie Neale!!

Chris Fagan will want to bottle that performance for a future September date. It is exactly the reason the Lions went after Dunkley.

Neale, so often left to do things on his own, “Cool Hand Luke” style and wage a one-man war against the best opposition, has finally got the Robin to his Batman, the Oppenheimer to his Barbie.

He’s not alone anymore. And teams should be afraid. Very afraid.


Tom Stewart

If Chris Scott could clone Tom Stewart 22 times and play with 23 of him on the team, it’s hard not to believe that he would. Really the Cats needed at least two of him. Stewart held the Geelong defence, and by extension the team, up in the first half as the Lions crushed the Geelong midfield and had repeated forward entries.

Scott then decided to throw Stewart into the midfield and try and win the battle at its source rather than fighting a losing war. It’s hard to say the decision didn’t work, given the turnaround in the Cats’ midfield in the second half, but it was still too late.

The Cats also sacrificed on the defensive side for it, as the Lions went coast-to-coast multiple times without Stewart running interference across halfback.


The Good Stuff


Lincoln McCarthy

McCarthy has become a real thorn in Geelong’s side. He has performed fairly consistently well against them. He has kicked a last-minute match-winner against them and he loves to bob up and give his former team his two cents. Considering McCarthy played about 20 games in six years at Geelong due to injuries, and has now missed about one game in the same time at Brisbane, it seems the sun and the surf are all that’s needed to bring out his best. Hell, it’s worked on Joe Daniher as well! Does Brisbane have a witch doctor on retainer?

It was a great moment after his second goal, where he celebrated on the fence with the fans. That’s what footy is about. More of that please.


Right Place, Right Time

Seems simple enough, but it can often be an extremely difficult combination to master. To be in the right place at the right time often requires a huge amount of work. Callum Ah Chee has been consistent for the Lions fans over the last few years since swapping from the Gold Coast, but found himself in the VFL for the majority of 2023 with the arrival of a batch of new players. Coming back into the AFL side for his third game this year, Ah Chee had his best game of the year after not having to start as the sub. Some great positioning and a clutch goal late for Brisbane as well.


The Other Stuff


The Skill Level

Just in general it was poor from both teams for large swaths of this match. You can say that they both applied some great pressure, but the conditions were reported to be perfect and players at the elite level should not be making so many mistakes.

At one point Tom Hawkins ventured down to the Cats backline to give them a “pep talk” and you wouldn’t blame him. It was like he was running around in a cloak of invisibility at times as his teammates just seemed oblivious to his countless leads as they approached the Geelong attacking fifty.


Big Joe

It’s not so much what he did in this game, but what he is capable of. Playing both as a forward and backup ruck, Daniher had 21 touches in this game. There are some mids who would like to have 21 touches in a game. No names, but you don’t have to search too far to find some. There is a game on the horizon where Daniher goes right off. It’s bubbling away and we’re seeing signs everywhere. If he is permitted to continue racking up touches, all of it is going to come together one day and it is going to be messy for the opposition.

With games against the Suns, Freo, Crows, Pies and Saints, I know which one the Lions would be hoping it occurs in.


Oisin Mullin

As just noted earlier it’s always hard to start as the sub in a game of footy. But Oisin really had no impact after being subbed on and didn’t offer the Cats much and even looked a bit out of his depth at times.

It must be noted that it was confusing the Menegola was held out for the earlier VFL game only to not be used at all. Particularly as it became evident in the first five minutes that the Cats could’ve used some more grunt around the football, which he delivers in spades. Chris Scott and his team may be thinking about that decision for a couple of days this week, and what might’ve been.


The Half-Back Running Men

Darcy Wilmot continues to grow into his role in the absence of Daniel Rich, providing a heap of drive from defence. He has really started to find his place in this side over the last month, and his confidence is growing right before our eyes.

He had 23 disposals and seven intercepts in this game as his combination with Conor McKenna gave the Lions a heap of rebound. If you’re playing Brisbane and opt not to cover these two, you’re asking for trouble.


The Worst Stuff

This section has only one addition – the injury to Will Ashcroft.

Whilst we all cross our fingers that it is something with a quick turnaround, and that his trip in to get scans gives him the all-clear with a return date in the not-too-distant future, the way he went down holding it… it sure didn’t look good.

He has had a monster first year and had made a significant different to the Lion’s midfield. I was looking forward to seeing his combination with Jaspa Ashcroft blossom as they continued to work together. Fingers crossed for the young fella.


The Wrap


Brisbane Lions

This was exactly wanted the Lions needed. Have a good defensive showing against a team in form and then be able to settle and hold onto a close finish when challenged. They could not have asked for a better tune-up outside of some straighter kicking for goal that would’ve negated any close-finish training.

The Lions have the Q-Clash next week against Gold Coast, and then everything for them will be building toward their round 23 fixture against Collingwood. You want to talk season defining? Try a late-season, top four Friday night blockbuster. The Magpie army is in full force, the are Lions trying to show they’re a legitimate contender away from the Gabba. This Mongrel cannot wait.


Geelong Cats

The Cats missed one here. They were out of this game for the majority of it, but when they did turn up with five minutes to go in the third quarter, they had ample opportunities to score as they dominated the last quarter.

Things don’t get any easier for the Cats on the run home and their place in the top eight is far from secure after this loss. A home game against Fremantle next week they should win, but the Dockers have a good record in Geelong. Then they play Port Adelaide and Collingwood back-to-back in a season-defining fortnight. They could still finish anywhere between 5th and 13th. It’s anyone’s guess where and it all depends on which version of Geelong shows up.



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