2nd Qualifying Final Preview: Melbourne vs Brisbane

The 2nd qualifying final sees the league's best attack pitted against the league's best defence.


Will Jake Lever, Steven May and co. stand up against the potent Lions forward line?


Or will the Lions find a way to penetrate Melbourne's impenetrable defence?



Last time they met

Melbourne was too good for the Lions back in round 12, prevailing by 22 points.


Brisbane got the jump and lead by 20 points at the half, but Christian Petracca (26 disposals, 16 contested possessions, two goals) had other ideas as the Dees kicked nine of the game's final 12 goals.


Clayton Oliver, Kysaiah Pickett and Tom McDonald were the Demons' other standouts.


If this encounter was anything to go by, plus Melbourne's astonishing come-from-behind over Geelong last week, you can't write the Dees off until the final siren.




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Team news

Melbourne have rightly named an unchanged lineup after last week's spirited victory over the Cats. James Jordon's the Medical Sub.


The Lions will be welcoming two big names back into the fold, with Mitch Robinson and Harris Andrews returning. Injuries to Ryan Lester and Callum Ah Chee pave the way for their return. Rhys Mathieson's been named as the Medical Sub.



Why Melbourne can win

The Dees went 17-1-4 for a reason.


They're the real deal.


They play a contested brand that will hold up in finals, they're as selfless as any side, their the best defensive team in the league, and their belief is through the roof after stunning Geelong in the final quarter last week.


It's harder to make an argument for why they can't win.



Why Brisbane can win

Melbourne may have the best defence in the league, but Brisbane has the best offence in the league.


If anyone can find faults in the Demons' concrete defensive structure, it's the Lions.


Are now a top-four side for the third year running, and have accumulated enough finals experience to seriously contend for the premiership.


Their midfield bats as deep as the Dees', and with names like Rich, Andrews, Daniher and Cameron littered across the ground, they have enough quality to beat anyone on their day.



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Players to watch

Max Gawn isn't only Melbourne's captain, he's the All Australian captain. And if we learnt anything from last night's game, it's that confidence is key. Aliir Aliir was fresh off his maiden All Australian blazer and he was the difference between the side's as Port jumped to an ultimately unassailable lead. Not only has Gawn just been named the All Australian captain, he kicked the match-winning goal against Geelong last week. Couldn't have had a better lead in, and his confidence will be sky-high.


Sticking to the theme of All Australians, Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver are key to Melbourne's success, and both are game-breakers in their own right. Could rip the game apart.


Another Dees duo that's been touched on is Jake Lever and Steven May. Play like they have all year, and they'll be near impossible to beat.


Despite what the All Australian selectors appear to believe, wingers are decisive in a team's pursuit of success. And some of the game's best will be on show, with Angus Brayshaw lining up against Mitch Robinson and Ed Langdon against Hugh McCluggage. Enthralling matchups.


Brisbane had been crying out for a key forward in year's gone by, and Joe Daniher answered their calls. Will have his hands full contending with Lever and May, but he's a big-time forward that wins games.


Then there's the small forwards. Charlie Cameron. Kysaiah Pickett. Electric.



Prediction

You can expect Brisbane to make a fist of it, but Melbourne won the minor premiership for a reason, and their class will reign supreme.

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