Can you believe it’s already the halfway point of the home and away season today? Feels like yesterday those pre-season performances were causing some consternation in the outer.
A win today could put North two and a half games up on GWS in 11th, which is a significant buffer on much of the chasing pack for only halfway through the season.
For any new readers on The Shinboner, the game day preview pieces are a primer for the action. It’s a series of questions and potential storylines to ponder as you head into Etihad Stadium or flick on the TV for the afternoon.
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Fast or slow?
In both Brisbane’s games at Etihad Stadium this season, it has been murdered on the turnover. St Kilda made the most of gifts in Round 1, while the Bulldogs did much the same in Round 8.
It’ll undoubtedly be a major focus of Brisbane’s preparation, tweaking its ball movement to avoid the turnovers which has cost it so dearly. But the simplest way to stop those giveaways is often to take the safest option, which will play into North’s hands if its defensive structure is up to the levels we’ve seen in previous weeks.
How will North move the ball?
The natural flow on from how Brisbane moves the ball is how North reacts to it. Teams have had periods in games where they’ve been able to score heavily on the Lions.
It’s a slightly arbitrary number, but Brisbane has conceded 10 quarters of 5+ goals. (For comparisons sake, North has conceded six, and only three in the last seven weeks.)
Much like how Brisbane will focus internally on preventing turnover, North will be well aware swift ball movement can unlock the scoreboard and break the game open.
The question is whether North will be willing to go aggressively with the ball and create, or be content to work with what Brisbane allows to start off with.
Can Ziebell or Wood kick a bag?
For those who haven’t seen much of Brisbane this season, the defensive one-two of Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner is a more than capable duo.
Assuming those two take Ben Brown and Jarrad Waite, it leaves the door open for Ziebell and/or Wood to sneak under the radar. The versatile forward mix (as discussed in last week’s wrap) is made for days like today, and to stop the ball movement from becoming too predictable going inside 50.
Will the trip back from Perth affect anything?
It’s a great unknown, given the new stadium, heavy conditions and shortish recovery time.
So far this season, Victorian teams are 3-2 the week after playing in Perth, but given the teams involved there is no clear trend either way.
A couple of changes and playing at home against an interstate side should help mitigate any heaviness in the legs.
Will Ahern have more or less than 40 disposals?
I’ll say over; 47 disposals and a couple of goals in a standard AFL debut for him.