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Match Preview: Round 20 v Western Bulldogs

Michael Whiting, AFL.com.au  August 2, 2017 10:09 AM

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After three straight wins, there's a feeling the Western Bulldogs have started to turn the corner, but if they come to the Gabba expecting an easy four points from the bottom-placed Lions they might be in for a rude shock.

The reigning premier has righted its season with victories over Carlton, Gold Coast and Essendon in the past three weeks to find themselves sitting outside the top eight on percentage alone.

With Marcus Bontempelli and Jason Johannisen among a host of Bulldogs stars finding their best form, they would be liking their chances of beating Chris Fagan's young Lions.

The home team has eyed this game off as one it could win though, resting youngsters Eric Hipwood, Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage from the long trip to Perth last week.

The Lions showed earlier this year they could test the Dogs, and their quick ball movement should be a good challenge for the visitors.

WHERE AND WHEN: The Gabba, Saturday, August 5, 4.35pm AEST 

LAST FIVE TIMES

R5, 2017, Western Bulldogs 17.20 (122) d Brisbane Lions 14.6 (90) at Etihad Stadium
R5, 2016, Western Bulldogs 17.18 (120) d Brisbane Lions 10.7 (67) at Etihad Stadium
R23, 2015, Brisbane Lions 19.16 (130) d Western Bulldogs 19.8 (122) at the Gabba
R12, 2015, Western Bulldogs 22.14 (146) d Brisbane Lions 11.8 (74) at Etihad Stadium
R12, 2014, Brisbane Lions 14.11 (95) d Western Bulldogs 13.9 (87) at Etihad Stadium 

THE SIX POINTS

1. The Lions almost caused an upset in round five, leading by 32 points at half-time, but the Bulldogs booted 12 goals to two in the second half to win. The Dogs dominated disposals 419-360 and had 18 more inside 50s.

2. One advantage for the Lions could be in the centre clearances. They're ranked sixth in the competition, averaging 13.5 a game, compared to the Bulldogs who have struggled, ranked last with an average of 10.9.

3. The Bulldogs hold a 30-22 head-to-head advantage in this match-up. The Lions have won the past four at the Gabba though, with the Bulldogs not winning there since round 20, 2009.

4. The umpires could be busy in this game. The Lions have received the most free kicks this season (378), just ahead of the Bulldogs with 369.

5. The Bulldogs scoring has returned in the last three games, averaging 106 points a game. In rounds one to 16, they averaged just 80 points.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Daniel Rich. 
The experienced Lion had a big breakthrough against the Eagles, shaking the tag – something he's found tough over his career - of Mark Hutchings to finish with 32 touches. With Liam Picken coming to town, Rich could cop even closer attention this week.