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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rivalry round comes week later for Lions


Rivalry round will come a week later for the Brisbane Lions as they vie for a top four finish to the 2009 AFL season.
Lions coach Michael Voss was scratching his head to come up with a reason why his side were playing North Melbourne at the Gabba on Saturday night in the AFL's annual match-up of traditional foes.
And certainly he was no closer to providing an answer after the Lions swatted away the Kangaroos by 41 points in a far from inspirational clash - despite Jonathan Brown's eight-goal haul.
But the Lions won't need an excuse to resume hostilities against Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday night.
The pair have created a great modern rivalry following their epic grand final showdowns in 2002 and 2003 - both of course won by the Lions as part of their premiership three-peat.
There's been no love lost since - but something truly special appears on the cards this weekend with a top four finish up for grabs.
Both sides are only separated by percentage on the AFL ladder after both moved to 11-6 records this weekend.
"Doesn't this game become critical," said Voss, who captained the Lions in their grand final wins over the `Pies.
"When you're playing against a side that's on the same points as you and fighting for the same spot, (it) takes on a whole new meaning.
"We go to the MCG and play in front of a pretty good crowd and this becomes a really crunch game for us, tests us a bit with what our form is like currently and whether it stacks up."
Voss may still refuse to publicly say that his side are finals-bound for the first time since 2004, again keeping to the mantra they must first win 12 games.
But the Lions great sounds like a man who is hardly settling for a top eight finish.
Voss clearly rates his rejuvenated Lions just behind the undefeated St Kilda and second placed Geelong in the finals race - and closing.
As a result, Voss was at his "nitpicking" best when he dissected their convincing victory over a Kangaroos side that has now gone eight rounds without a win.
"We still play to the game a little bit. When the game is being played at a certain tempo we play at that tempo," Voss said.
"When it is slow we play slow, when it is fast we play fast and when it is frantic we play frantic.
"We have got to start getting a bit of control on the way we want to play rather than the opposition determining the style.
"Whereas Geelong and St Kilda, they make you play their style.
"We are still evolving as a group, we still haven't got that ability to play at the level we want to play at.
"But it's nice to be able to be nit picking though."
Brown was inspirational for the Lions in the absence of key forward Daniel Bradshaw (hamstring, two weeks), bagging four goals in the third quarter alone to help the Lions kick away.
The Lions are sweating on the fitness of Tom Collier (knee).

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