Brisbane Lions and Carlton will play-off for the 2013 NAB Cup trophy tonight at Etihad Stadium. Join us for live scores and a blog of the grand final from the first bounce at 7.45pm AEDT.
The 2013 NAB Cup Grand Final presents Brisbane with the opportunity to win their first night premiership as a merged venture.
Fitzroy won the night premiership – their last senior trophy – in 1978 and a post-season consolation competition in 1959.
Brisbane Lions have played in two pre-season deciders, losing both; to Port Adelaide by 85 points in 2001 and Carlton in 2007 by 25 points.
The Blues’ victory in 2007, at Etihad Stadium, was their fourth night premiership but even if they were to win tonight, they could not be called the most successful Cup side in AFL/VFL history.
That title belongs to Hawthorn, who has seven night premierships next to their name.
The 2013 pre-season has been a massive one for the Lions – a month in which they’ve stated their intentions for a forward showing in the home and away season.
In week one of the competition they disposed of Hawthorn and Gold Coast before sneaking a close victory over GWS in Wagga.
Last week, Brisbane was impressive in a strong four-quarter effort against a depleted Magpies side at this venue.
The Lions’ 34-point victory was set-up by a dominant second-half in which they proved a class above their opponents.
Brisbane would’ve received a substantial confidence boost from that performance. And having watched the Lions in three of their four matches this pre-season – their commitment to the NAB Cup has been refreshing.
At least, we can be sure that one team entered the comp with intentions of winning it!
I’ve been so impressed by Brisbane that in my opinion Carlton will have their work cut out to get the result tonight. The Lions are playing at an AFL standard already.
In saying that, I thought Carlton were very good in a three-point defeat away to Adelaide last Friday night.
The Blues lost control of the match in the third quarter – they trailed by 30 at the last break after being level at half time – before keeping the Crows scoreless in the final term.
If the match was another five minutes long, I’m sure the Blues would’ve won.
Mick Malthouse stated earlier in the competition that Carlton couldn’t afford to waste any NAB Cup matches (he’s trying to impart a new game plan) and so it’s no surprise to see them in the final.
Because – as we know – performing well in this competition is a low priority for almost all of the AFL clubs.
In week one the Blues were miles too good for GWS Giants and defending AFL premiers Sydney before thumping Fremantle on the quick back-up at this venue the following weekend.
As I mentioned above, I thought Carlton showed enough in a close defeat last week to keep all their stakeholders content.
In front of their members tonight, they will be keen to show how much better they are going to be in 2013. After all the Blues (11-11, tenth) finished only a game ahead of Brisbane (10-12, 13th) last season.
In team news, I expect both clubs to field strong squads but there are some notable injury-enforced omissions. Carlton will be without Jarrad Waite (calf), Andrew Collins (ankle) and David Ellard (hamstring).
The Lions, on the other hand miss the services of Simon Black (knee), Brent Staker (knee), Matthew Leuenberger (Achilles).
Even though Brisbane have had one day less to prepare for this match than their counterparts, I’ve loved their work all pre-season and think they can finish the job by taking the NAB Cup tonight.
I’m expecting a close four-quarter battle.
Lions by 11 points.