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Match Preview: Round 23 v North Melbourne Kangaroos

Michael Whiting, AFL.com.au  August 23, 2017 8:46 AM

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The Brisbane Lions host the North Melbourne Kangaroos in the final round of the season at the Gabba on Saturday. 

Both clubs have five wins, with the winner to jump as high as 15th and the loser stuck with the spoon. Yes, the loser also gets the number one pick at the draft, but with such an even crop of young talent this year, it doesn't seem that great of an advantage.

The Lions have fought hard in the second half of the year, led by white-hot skipper Dayne Beams and his explosive midfield mate Dayne Zorko. They have won four matches since the bye and taken it right up to the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne in the past three weeks before narrowly losing.

The Kangaroos have also been competitive most weeks, but seem to be just running out of energy as the season draws to a close. If form holds up, the Lions should win on their home ground.

WHERE AND WHEN: The Gabba, Saturday, August 26, 2.10pm AEST 

LAST FIVE TIMES

R2, 2016, North Melbourne 17.15 (117) d Brisbane Lions 11.17 (83) at the Gabba

R17, 2015, North Melbourne 16.14 (110) d Brisbane Lions 5.8 (38) at the Gabba

R2, 2015, North Melbourne 20.13 (133) d Brisbane Lions 7.9 (51) at Etihad Stadium

R15, 2014, Brisbane Lions 10.10 (70) d North Melbourne 9.12 (66) at the Gabba

R9, 2014, North Melbourne 17.23 (125) d Brisbane Lions 6.2 (38) at Etihad Stadium 

THE FOUR POINTS

1. The Lions' scoring has improved in recent weeks. In the first 17 rounds they averaged 82 points a game, and since then that’s increased to 95.

2. The clubs have met 50 times previously, with the Kangaroos holding a strong 29-20 advantage, with one draw. The Roos have also won six of the past eight matches.

3. Win or lose it will be the worst season for the Kangaroos since their wooden spoon year in 1972 when they won just a single game. Since then they’ve never won fewer than seven games.

4. Lions defender Daniel Rich has moved into the AFL Player Ratings Team of the Year following Round 22. Dayne Zorko is also in the team on the interchange. 

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Stefan Martin

With Kangaroos big men Todd Goldstein and Braydon Preuss in doubt for Saturday's clash, Stef Martin may have a golden opportunity to exert his dominance in the ruck. Back-up talls Majak Daw and Nick Larkey are also in doubt for North, meaning key forward Ben Brown may have to spend time in the ruck.

Martin has been in excellent form of late and is averaging the third most hit-outs (35) in the competition. If Martin can gain the upper hand, the Lions fleet of midfielders should be able to rack up a big score. 

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