The Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs will each look to keep their strong form going at the Gabba on Sunday. Join our live blog for scores and commentary from 4.40pm AEST.
Much has gone right for the Western Bulldogs in the second half of this season.
Their experienced players have led a stunning revival.
Ryan Griffen and Will Minson look sure things for the All-Australian team, a recently re-signed Adam Cooney is once again tearing it up in the midfield and old heads Dale Morris, Daniel Giansiracusa and Robert Murphy are playing stellar footy.
And the results have showed it in the last six weeks – three wins against West Coast, Carlton and Adelaide, while the losses were full of merit against Essendon (when they were playing better), Hawthorn and Sydney.
The marked improvement can be attributed to the emergence of the youth.
Despite promising youngsters Clay Smith, Jackson Macrae, Jake Stringer and Jason Johannisen missing games recently, plenty of others have stepped up for the team that’s ranked second in clearances and contested disposals and third in tackles.
Tom Liberatore is now an elite inside midfielder, Mitch Wallis has reinvented himself as a tagger while winning his own ball and Luke Dahlhaus is once again providing the excitement.
The forward line has seen the biggest reinvention.
Tom Campbell provides an imposing presence and can take a mark, Jarrad Grant makes his possessions count and Tory Dickson showed off his skills with six goals last week.
The challenge for the Dogs is to keep up their form against another promising team in Brisbane.
The Lions easily accounted for GWS in their first match since former coach Michael Voss’ sacking but this will be a much better test of Brisbane’s mental state.
Simon Black missing with suspension will be a huge blow considering the Lions are fourth-last in the league for contested possessions and fifth-last for clearances.
Daniel Merrett will most likely be forced to play up forward again with Jonathan Brown out injured.
That leaves Matt Maguire to man Tom Campbell, which could cause problems considering Campbell dominated Ben ‘Truck’ Rutten at times last week.
If Brisbane is to win, ruckman Matthew Leuenberger will have to play a huge role.
Leuenberger will need to be at his best to not only negate Minson in the ruck but also help the Lions take control in the middle.