at 4.50am EDT
Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of the second AFL preliminary final. Brisbane v Geelong gets underway at the Gabba at 7.40pm (AEDT).
The penultimate fixture of the most extraordinary of seasons promises to be a belter. Little has separated the leading sides on the ladder in 2020 with flag favouritism flitting between clubs on a weekly basis. Geelong’s surge of form between rounds 10 and 16 marked them out as the most rounded 22 and seemingly the only side capable of kicking a familiar-looking winning score in these constrained times. But defeats to Richmond and Port Adelaide saw interest in the Cats cool, paving the way for the Lions to stake their claim for greatness with what may prove a defining qualifying final victory over the Tigers.
Geelong won the last time these sides met, back in round six at the SCG, and the star that night was Patrick Dangerfield, who appears hell bent on finding the missing piece in his career jigsaw in this finals series. It was also a solid outing for Tom Hawkins who kicked three goals and took six marks in his All-Australian duel with Harris Andrews. The correlation between Hawkins kicking goals and Geelong winning is striking, there may be no clearer bellwether of a side’s fortunes this campaign.
But Brisbane have a lot in their favour. Unbeaten since round 10 they have home ground advantage tonight and have benefited from residing in their home state for most of this higgledy-piggledy season. They are well rested after a week off, have no injury concerns, and their last performance, against Richmond, was the kind that indicated they were ready to step up into the big league. The Lions have class all over the ground and in Chris Fagan they have a coach who is making every contributor believe. The only worry is a longstanding one – can they kick straight when it matters?