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In the classic Australian poem, A B “Banjo” Paterson sought the answer by letter to a question concerning the whereabouts of a drover named “Clancy”. The response from Clancy’s shearing mate was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar:

“Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.”

Most of us would have felt a little bit that way earlier in the week wondering about the possible whereabouts of the Melbourne team for this week’s encounter against Brisbane. Were they going to meet in Alice Springs or perhaps Brisbane? Or somewhere down the Lachlan River where young Clancy was last sighted?

As it turned out, it’s all happening on Friday night on the windswept plains to the west of Sydney at a venue where the two teams have never before met each other so it’s still a more or less neutral venue as TIO Traeger Park would have been anyway.

I suspect however, that Giants Stadium will suit Melbourne right down to a tee and further, the team has the maturity and resilience to adapt to the week’s lockdown circumstances. They will need all of that adaptability for their duel against the AFL’s other form team in Brisbane which has been thumping opposition sides and is closing on Melbourne’s season high undefeated run of nine consecutive wins. These are the competition’s dueling banjos.

The contest between the two teams promises to be an intriguing one. The Demons have the competition’s strongest defence; one that has settled into a steady and stable unit now that Harry Petty has had the opportunity to settle down in Adam Tomlinson’s vacated position. Against that, Brisbane has close to the best attack in the competition having posted five century plus scores in its current run of seven wins (they scored 93 and 95 in the other two). The teams will be circling and feeling each other out in a dangerous duel that will go a long way to deciding the outcome in the race for places in the top four.

The respective midfields aren’t too shabby either and it was in this part of the game that the Lions gained the ascendancy at Metricon Stadium last year when Lachie Neale picked Max Gawn’s pockets at ruck contests with such regularity that he almost completely nullified the Demon skipper’s 41 hit out dominance. Despite this, Brisbane stuttered over the line by 4 points after a kick from Mitch Hannan late in the game went out on the full and Bayley Fritsch gave away a 50m penalty.

Neale has been out for several weeks and in his absence, Lyons, McCluggage and Zorko are flying the flag high. He’s been mentioned in despatches as a likely returnee. With him or without, I think the Demon midfield has improved enough to turn the tables this time.

Melbourne to win by 9 points.

THE GAME

Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at Giants Stadium Friday, 4 June, 2021 at 7.50pm

HEAD TO HEAD *

Overall Melbourne 25 wins Brisbane Lions 22 wins At Giants Stadium Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane Lions 0 wins Last Five Meetings Melbourne 3 wins Brisbane Lions 2 wins The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Fagan 2 wins

* does not include Brisbane Bears games

MEDIA

TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides.

Radio - check your local guides.

LAST TIME THEY MET

Brisbane Lions 7.11.53 defeated Melbourne 7.7.49 at Metricon Stadium, Round 8, 2020

After an even first quarter, the Brisbane Lions on ball brigade took control of proceedings for the middle terms of the game. This came about despite Max Gawn’s complete domination of the ruck contests. Lauchie Neale was outstanding with 33 touches as the Lions went to a three goal lead at the final break. Melbourne launched a comeback and was in with a chance right up to the final siren but failed to take advantage of some late opportunities to win.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE

B: M. Hibberd 14 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 

HB: C. Salem 3 H. Petty 35 A. Brayshaw 10 

C: T. Sparrow 32 C. Petracca 5 J. Hunt 29

HF: J. Jordon 23 T. McDonald 25 C. Spargo 9 

F: B. Fritsch 31 L. Jackson 6 A. Neal-Bullen 30

Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 K. Pickett 36

I/C: J. Harmes 4 J. Melksham 18 T. Rivers 24 S. Weideman 26

Emerg: O. Baker 33 T. Bedford 12 J. Bowey 17 M. Brown 38

In: O. Baker 

Out: Ed Langdon (concussion)

BRISBANE LIONS

B: J. Prior 20 H. Andrews 31 B. Starcevich 37

HB: D: Rich 10 M. Adams 24 G. Birchall 14 

C: D. Zorko 15 L. Neale 9 H. McCluggage

HF: C. Ah Chee 4 J. Daniher 3 L. McCarthy 11

F: D. McStay 25 E. Hipwood 30 C. Cameron 23

Foll: O. McInerney 46 J. Lyons 17 M. Robinson 5

I/C Z. Bailey 33 K. Coleman 18 R. Lester 35 D. Robertson 2 

Sub: R. Mathieson 36 Emerg: C. Ballenden 38 T. Fullarton 21 J. Madden 42 

In: R. Lester L. Neale

Out: T. Berry (omitted) J. Madden (omitted) 

Injury List: Round 12

Ed Langdon (concussion) — 1 Week

Jack Viney (toe) — 1 to 2 Weeks

Joel Smith (knee) — 2 to 3 Weeks

Bailey Laurie (eye socket) — 3 to 4 Weeks

Deakyn Smith (ankle) — 3 to 4 Weeks

Marty Hore (knee) — 10 to 12 Weeks

Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season

Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season

PreviewRd122021.png

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