On to Part Three of our Mid Season Reviews and we kick things off with the Brisbane Lions.
Pre-Season Prediction: 15th
Current Position: 17th
Forecast: Stay where they are or collect the Spoon
Where do I start. Its been a few bad years for football in Brisbane and there are no signs that its going to get better anytime soon. Decent on-field talent has been badly managed by the club’s hierarchy and they need to get things right upstairs before moving forward.
They only have one win to show for their poor form, and that was against an injury depleted Suns back in round four. Their home form had been ok up until recently. They got close to Sydney in round six, going down by just the three points, stuck with the Hawks in round ten but got blown away in the final quarter and they had good starts against Fremantle and West Coast before being demolished in the proceeding quarters.
Their away form has been dismal though, and their average losing margin is just a tick over 60 points. Most of us nowadays just accept the Brisbane are going to lose most of their matches and it becomes a non-talking point in Melbourne as opposed to the Fremantle scenario. Queensland football in general is struggling and the Lions are copping the full brunt of it.
What’s Gone Right
Stats wise, nothing much. However, their highest ranking stat is effectiveness inside 50 which sees the Lions rank fifth in this category, going at a rate of 51 per cent. Their the second lowest team for inside 50s though, so that might explain why this stat is quite high and looking at efficiency to inside 50s ratio, the Lions would be ranked much lower. Josh Schache is a pretty accurate kick, as is Tom Bell, and although they haven’t kicked that many goals, they’ve been accurate when given the chance. Goal accuracy is something that a few stronger clubs are crying out for at the moment so its not to be taken lightly.
As mentioned before, Brisbane have a great array of young talent and its been one of their strengths this year. Midfielder Dayne Zorko is averaging career-high disposal numbers with 24.4 a game, Tom Rockliff has been good, recruit Mitch Robinson has been consistent while Daniel Rich and Pearce Hanley have shown flashes.
What’s Gone Wrong
For starters, they’re not getting their hands on the ball as much as they would like. They are the lowest ranked team as far as disposal numbers go, with just 344.6 a game. Usually teams that have low disposal numbers will have high efficiency numbers when using the ball, but even that is low, going at 72 per cent, the fourth worst in the competition. Kicks, Handballs and Marks are all down for the Lions, which says they’re getting smashed at every contest. Each bottom ten team has a strength, but Brisbane seem to lack one, statistically.
What can be a strength, can also be a weakness and in Brisbane’s case, their list might just be too young. The Lions have 30 listed players under the age of 25 which is the second most of any team. 21 of those players are under the age of 21. They’ve given debuts to four draftees and while getting AFL experience bodes well for the future, it hurts the team’s performance in the present.
As mentioned above, Zorko has been in brilliant form for the Lions this year. It’s been three solid years now for the 27-year old who is now well and truly at his peak. He has been able to provide an effective small forward option for Justin Leppitsch’s side, kicking 15 goals from his 12 games. His proven he can be leader on-field and is crucial to Brisbane’s next few years.
Geelong recruit, Josh Walker has only kicked 12 goals in his 10 games while fellow former cat, Jarrad Jansen has been better, but not brilliant. Tom Bell kicked seven goals in a two-game period but other than that has been poor.
Their younger players have shown a bit more. Josh Schache has kicked a goal a game and fellow big man Eric Hipwood hasn’t looked out of place. Ben Keays and Rhys Mathieson have both impressed and will be looking to continue that promise for the rest of 2016.
Second Half Expectations
Can’t really see them wining another game at the moment, and their only possible win is against Essendon and that’s at Etihad. I’m going to call this game the battle for 17th spot and think Essendon will win it, consigning Brisbane to the Wooden Spoon.