Melbourne and Brisbane Lions go head-to-head in a do-or-die clash at the MCG that will see one side head to a preliminary final against Geelong, while the other will head for the beach.
Melbourne will need to do it the hard way if they are to win back-to-back premierships after being turned over by the Sydney Swans at the MCG in the first week of finals. But teams have won it from here before, just ask Richmond.
That is the beauty of finishing in the top four and they will get another chance under the lights at another packed stadium on Friday night. This time there will be no second chances though.
The Lions will take plenty of confidence from their elimination final win over Richmond at the Gabba last weekend, but on this occasion they have to get the job done away from home.
It will be a huge test for Chris Fagan’s side but you could argue that all the pressure is on the Demons and that should play into Brisbane’s hands.
Both of these sides are now two steps away from the grand final and the stakes could not be higher, so let’s take a closer at each of the teams with the bounce not far away.
What: Melbourne v Brisbane Lions
Where: MCG, Melbourne
When: 19:50 (AEST) Friday 9th September 2022
How to watch: 7, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds: Melbourne 1/3, Brisbane 47/20
This time last year Melbourne were looking unstoppable as they went on to win the grand final in emphatic style.
They have been less spectacular in 2022 and look more vulnerable, but it is pretty much the same side that got the job done last year and if they click they can do so again. But consistency will now be crucial.
Simon Goodwin’s side need to bounce back after being outplayed by the Swans last week and they can take heart from the fact that they have beaten the Lions heavily on two occasions already this season.
In the final round of the home and away season they smashed Brisbane by 58 points at the Gabba to pip the Lions to a top-four spot. Now they are back at the G they will be the hot fancies to go through.
However they have been turned over in front of their own fans on more than one occasion this season and Brisbane will be aware of that.
One big concern for the Demons is the fitness of gun midfielder Christian Petracca who has been suffering with a calf injury all week. He looks sure to get the nod to play but he will not be 100percent and that could present the Lions with an opportunity.
Ben Brown will be key to Melbourne’s chances of taking the win. They have struggled to boot goals at times this season, but Brown showed his class in the last game against the Lions when slotting three.
Lachie Neale is a huge threat to the Demons and there have already been suggestions they will look to nullify him by employing James Harmes as a tagger.
Where they have lacked up forward, Melbourne have made up for it by excelling in defence. They have kept things tight and the Lions have struggled to score points against them in 2022 just managing a total of 110 across the two games.
That is impressive defence considering Brisbane are the second highest scoring team this season so Melbourne will have to be on their game once again. Defender Jake Lever was key in those two games and will be needed again.
The form of Zac Bailey is one of the main reasons that the Lions have excelled in attack. He has kicked 34 goals in 22 games this season and will be out to inflict further damage on Friday night.
Along with Lachie Neale, the Lions are blessed with two stars of the comp. Neale was a revelation in the win over the Tigers last week when racking up 39 disposals and it is no surprise Melbourne will keep a close eye on him.
Brisbane have received a double boost on the selection front with both Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth returning from suspension for the game.
Rayner in particular will be bursting to get out on the MCG pitch. He missed finals in 2021 due to injury and was of course suspended last week. He loves the big stage and will be out to make amends against Melbourne.