Footy returns to the Top End tonight as the Brisbane Lions get the chances for three straight wins against Melbourne. We’ll have live scores from Darwin from 7.40pm AEST.
At 6-9, finals could be back on the agenda for Michael Voss’ side should they win tonight.
Four points would move them to within a win of the top eight if Port Adelaide lose against the Saints, and with a favourable draw in their final six games they could continue to climb.
They produced another momentum-building victory last Saturday night, coming back from a 33-point deficit late in the third quarter to beat North Melbourne by two goals.
Voss has made just one change for tonight omitting James Polkinghorne in favour of Elliot Yeo, but Simon Black and Brent Moloney will be sidelined for at least another week with their respective adductor and calf injuries.
Melbourne received their own positive selection news this week with Jack Viney playing his first match since Round 7 after missing two months with a toe injury. Daniel Nicholson has been omitted.
Selected under the father-son rule at 26 in the 2012 National Draft, Viney impressed early on in the season and if he can return to fitness should finish the season off strongly.
The Dees were simply outclassed by a dominant Cats side at Simonds Stadium last Saturday, with Melbourne’s 4.6 their equal-lowest score in Geelong in over 70 years.
But against sides like Geelong and Sydney, who defeated Melbourne by 31 points the week earlier, it is difficult to gauge the impact of interim coach Neil Craig given the massive gap in quality compared to the 17th-placed Demons.
Melbourne will get a better opportunity to test their improvement against the Lions, though it is the Lions who go in as heavy favourites.
Brisbane have won their past three matches against Melbourne, including a 28-point win at the Gabba in Round 5 this season.
The greasy, humid conditions of TIO Stadium add an extra variable to this contest, but given what’s on the line for Brisbane it is difficult to see Melbourne improving on their 2-13 record.