It’s not every week that you approach a Friday night game and it is the final game of the round.
Season 2020, you’ve done it again.
It is quite often, however, that Friday night features a mouth-watering match-up and tonight is no exception.
We can expect great things from tonight’s game between Brisbane and Collingwood, as there is a lot on the line for both clubs.
A Brisbane win would push them back in front of Geelong, West Coast and Richmond on the ladder and closer to a top-two finish. A loss draws them further back to the pack and they could risk missing out on a double chance.
A Collingwood victory just about secures them a finals spot (if it hasn’t been solidified already) and keeps them in touch with the top five sides. A loss is risky, but may not be as damaging to them as it would be for the Lions.
Both sides are facing similar issues within their game plan that could not only haunt them this evening, but could really put them at a disadvantage come finals time.
Of course, I’m talking about scoring, with Collingwood and Brisbane each facing their own issues in front of goals.
And their ability to quickly (or not so quickly) rectify this problem could be the difference both this evening and going forward.
For the Lions, they don’t have such a problem getting the ball into their forward 50 and into the hands of their goal scorers.
The issue comes when it’s time to convert. The Lions just don’t take their chances and it’s almost cost them in their past two matches.
They’ve won their previous two games by a combined three points.
In those games against North Melbourne and St Kilda, they scored just 13 goals from a total of 38 scoring shots.
For the season, they’ve booted 124 goals and 159 behinds. Of the other four sides in the top five (Port, Geelong, West Coast and Richmond), only Port Adelaide have scored more behinds than goals for the season but the difference isn’t as large as Brisbane’s is.
And it’s not just players missing in front of goals, but also missing in action.
Livewire Charlie Cameron has kicked just two goals in the Lions’ past four games.
I know he faced an injury scare some weeks ago, but he hasn’t missed a game for the season and I doubt the medical staff would risk him unnecessarily.
Cameron re-finding some confidence would certainly help them get back on track and he is vital should Brisbane wish to be a genuine threat come finals time.
So those are Brisbane’s issues in front of goal.
Collingwood just can’t seem to find them at all. They just don’t score enough.
Against Carlton last weekend, they booted 10.12 (72) in what was their highest score since Round 3.
Coming into Round 15, they have scored a total of 818 points for the season – the lowest of any side sitting in the top eight.
Mason Cox has added some much needed structure to the forward line, more so than Darcy Cameron, who was omitted for this evening’s game, even if that’s all he is useful for.
He’s kicked three goals in his past two games since returning from injury and while it’s not a huge impact, it’s enough to support those around him.
He can at least attempt to make a contest and bring the ball to ground, for the likes of Josh Thomas, Brody Mihocek, Tom Phillips, Jaidyn Stephenson, Jamie Elliott and Josh Daicos to create some magic.
There’s plenty of talent in the Pies’ forward line. The difficulty is that most of their forwards aren’t fit enough to play together consistently, and the Pies are still lacking a lethal key forward (sorry, Coxy).
So the big question who wins tonight? It could go either way, really. Couldn’t it?
My gut says Brisbane, but I definitely wouldn’t be writing off Collingwood completely.
On first thought, you wouldn’t look past Brisbane at home. Also, they’re sitting in the top four with a reasonably healthy percentage.
Sure, they’ve had a slippery couple of games, but the good sides find a way to keep delivering.
After all, they’ve only lost two games since the season re-started in June.
But it will be interesting to see how Collingwood back up their victory against Carlton, particularly if they’re able to register a reasonable score for the second game in a row.
Was that game the fire starter they needed to re-energise themselves towards another finals campaign?
I don’t see why it couldn’t have been.
To give each side an extra boost for tonight’s game, a fresh face is finally getting an opportunity at senior level.
Max Lynch will make his debut for the Pies, while Keidean Coleman will get his chance for Brisbane.
It’s a season-defining game. The Lions have come a long way in the last 12 months. They should be able to get the job done.
That’s my Friday forecast. What’s yours?