Where and When: The Gabba, Saturday April 21, 7:40 pm
It’s the third QClash, as Brisbane host Gold Coast tonight at the Gabba.
The highly-anticipated match looks to be the best yet , with Brisbane the more impressive side so far this year but with more important outs.
Lion Matthew Leuenberger is a huge loss, injuring his Achilles last week against Fremantle, and teammate Brent Staker is also missing. The Suns meanwhile, only have injuries to swaud players.
Brisbane’s draw ensures that this match is a must-win, as they play Geelong, Essendon and Collingwood in the next three weeks. A loss tonight could potentially leave them with six losses on the trot.
Leuenberger, Brisbane’s number one ruckman, will miss six weeks with the Achilles injury, which leaves former Bulldog Ben Hudson rucking solo, as their first draft pick last year in Billy Longer has been omitted.
While the ruck stocks look weak for Brisbane, their contested ball winning improves vastly with the return of Simon Black, who should find plenty of it.
Also returning is Aaron Cornelius to give Brisbane a taller line-up, with Jonathan Brown and Daniel Merrett also named at centre half forward and full forward respectively.
Making his debut is Jack Crisp, elevated off the rookie list in the place of Leuenberger. He is an impressive and versatile player with abilities all round and has been likened to teammate Tom Rockliff in terms of skill base.
Gold Coast come off a winless first three games, but their most recent loss was comfortably their best performance of the year, with a large spread of contributors.
Gary Ablett wasn’t left alone, as David Swallow, Jared Brennan, Michael Rischitelli and Karmichael Hunt all stepped up through the midfield.
The little master Ablett recorded his fourth consecutive performance of 40 disposals or higher against Essendon, and although Andrew Raines has publicly stated he plans to stop him, one can only wonder if it’s possible. It’s likely his three games have contained nine Brownlow votes already.
He now seems to have all the support and while he remains the go-to player he should be, the young midfield brigade of the Suns, with the stronger ruck duo of Josh Fraser and Zac Smith tonight, should play well.
Campbell Brown will make his return, replacing Maverick Weller in the side.
Players to Watch
Jack Crisp: Passed over in the national draft, he seems exactly like a younger Rockliff. He seems to be skilled in just about every facet of the game, from winning clearances to kicking goals. Keep an eye on him, although chances are that he’ll start as the substitute.
Trent McKenzie: “Cannon” hasn’t yet had so much of a chance to prove why he’s earned that nickname so far this year, starting as the substitute in both matches. He’s named on the wing and while it doesn’t guarantee that he won’t earn the green vest again, one would imagine two good performances all-but rules it out.
The state clashes tend to ignore previous form – logic would suggest that Brisbane would be favourites to pull this off, but that was true in the first QClash in which the Suns ended up victorious.
It’s going to be close, and it’s going to be an exciting contest, but honestly, Gary Ablett is in the form of his life, and the Gold Coast midfield is getting better every week.
Brisbane look stronger, but I have the feeling that Gold Coast will run out victorious.
Gold Coast by five points
B: Ashley McGrath, Matt Maguire, Josh Drummond
HB: Mitchell Golby, Joel Patfull, Pearce Hanley
C: Jed Adcock, Tom Rockliff, Daniel Rich
HF: James Polkinghorne, Jonathan Brown, Todd Banfield
F: Ryan Lester, Daniel Merrett, Aaron Cornelius
Foll: Ben Hudson, Simon Black, Jack Redden
I/C: Andrew Raines, Ryan Harwood, Jared Polec, Jack Crisp
Emg: Sam Sheldon, Patrick Karnezis, Billy Longer
In: Simon Black, Aaron Cornelius, Ben Hudson, Jack Crisp
Out: Matthew Leuenberger, Jesse O’Brien, Claye Beams, Billy Longer
New: Jack Crisp (Murray Bushrangers (VIC))
B: Jared Brennan, Nathan Bock, Seb Tape
HB: Matt Shaw, Matthew Warnock, Jarrod Harbrow
C: David Swallow, Gary Ablett, Trent McKenzie
HF: Harley Bennell, Tom Lynch, Brandon Matera
F: Luke Russell, Sam Day, Aaron Hall
Foll: Zac Smith, Karmichael Hunt, Michael Rischitelli
I/C: Josh Fraser, Campbell Brown, Dion Prestia, Josh Caddy
Emg: Sam Iles, Joel Wilkinson, Liam Patrick
In: Campbell Brown
Out: Maverick Weller
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