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can Brisbane secure the ultimate semi final upset?




After beating Richmond in a nail-biting elimination final by two points last week, Brisbane are through to a semi-final against reigning premiers Melbourne at the MCG on Friday night.

Their against the odds win over the Tigers was a reminder to both the 35,013 fans at the Gabba and the rest of the competition: you can write us off if you want. But do it at your own risk.

Now they are through to a do-or-die semi-final, and Chris Fagan’s men will be primed to give it their best shot. The Demons have beaten the Lions the last four times these two teams have met, including both encounters this year.
Had they won the second of them in Round 23, they could have finished as high as the top two.

Instead, they were embarrassed, dropping to sixth on the ladder while the Dees finished in second themselves.

A pattern in both clashes has been that Melbourne have gotten on a roll and Brisbane haven’t been able to halt their momentum. The result has been losses by 64 and 58 points respectively. Stopping the Dees from kicking large bags of unanswered goals will go a huge way towards an upset victory.

With match-winner Joe Daniher missing after heading home to be at the birth of his first child, the other livewire from last week who needs to lift is Charlie Cameron.

With three goals last week, the Lions will be hoping the electrifying goalsneak, alongside Eric Hipwood and Zac Bailey, can continue to provide avenues to goal.

Deven Robertson, who was brought in to replace the injured Jarryd Lyons, repaid the faith Fagan had in him against the Tigers. He kept dangerous Dion Prestia at bay until Prestia was subbed out with a hamstring injury. He then went on to keep Daniel Rioli quiet in the second half.

It is highly likely that he will be entrusted with another run-with tagging role against the Demons. Keeping a dangerous Melbourne forward like Kysaiah Pickett quiet and nullifying his impact will be crucial.

While some commentators will suggest the Lions have a mental issue playing at the home of footy and therefore can’t win the Grand Final, a closer analysis of their record at the MCG might indicate things are not as bad as they may seem.
They were 0-10 since 2014 going into that Sunday’s game in round 20 and after the narrow loss to Richmond, that has now become 0-11.

Charlie Cameron of the Lions kicks a goal.

(Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

However, 2020 and 2021 were severely impacted by COVID, with hardly any games played at the ‘G. In fact, the Lions only played one game there across two seasons: Round 1 of 2020.

The 2022 Lions side is vastly different from the side that would have been playing prior to Fagan’s first year in charge in 2017. Therefore, any part of that 0-11 record at the MCG prior to Fagan’s reign can be disregarded.

For the majority of this season, the Lions have been the leading attacking side in the competition. By the end of the home-and-away season, they had fallen to second behind Richmond, who they were still able to pip in the elimination final shootout. The challenge that lies ahead for Chris Fagan and his assistants is how they can get the best out of this team when they play against the best.

Following a disappointing loss to the Tigers in round 20, they faced another potential finals contender, Carlton.
And Brisbane annihilated them – the eventual margin of 33 points only that low thanks to a last-quarter fadeout.

But it was the way they played which was most telling. From the first bounce, it was clear the Lions had come to play. Chris Fagan’s men played arguably their most attacking football of the season in the first quarter as they raced off to a 29-point lead by quarter time.

They even kept their opponents goalless in that quarter. If they can bring that tenacity and pressure on Friday night, anything is possible.

After taking care of Richmond, they now face a rampaging Melbourne side, who have gotten their mojo back. They will be tough to beat.

After a mid-season slump, the Demons are back in form, playing incredible football. The premiers had a surprise loss to fellow top four side Sydney but are still aiming to secure back-to-back premierships. They will be determined not to bow out in straight sets.

Yes, the Lions will have to travel to the MCG for the Grand Final, but their previous experiences will hold them in good stead. As Hawthorn showed in 2008 when they beat the more fancied Geelong to win the premiership, or the Sydney Swans displayed in 2012 beating those Hawks in a classic, you only have to be the better team on the day.

For the loser, the season is over. Geelong awaits the winner in a preliminary final, with the victor of that game playing in the grand final. The stakes could not be higher.

For what it’s worth, I think Melbourne will be too good against Brisbane, setting up a preliminary final clash against Geelong next week.

But can the Lions, who seemed decimated against Melbourne just a few weeks ago turn it all around?

Can Fagan and the Lions devise a game plan that can bring down the mighty Melbourne Demons?

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