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2019 NEAFL Season Preview

NEAFL practice-match highlights: V Redland Watch the NEAFL highlight against the Redland Bombers. Final Score: Brisbane 21. 10. (136) defeated Redland 3. 6. (24).

The Brisbane Lions NEAFL season is set to kick off in just over a week's time. 

With practice match preparations well and truly underway, have previewed our 2019 NEAFL season.

2018 Summary

After winning the flag in 2017, the Lions were not able reach similar heights last year, finishing fifth throughout the home and away season.

The Lions started their premiership defense well, winning five of their first six games, but soon fell off the wagon with six consecutive defeats.

Heading in to the back end of the season, the Lions found their mojo against Sydney Uni in Round 15 followed by a draw against the GIANTS.

The Lions didn’t drop another match thereafter to qualify for the finals, but came unstuck in the Elimination Final against the Hornets in a hotly-contested match at Graham Rd.

What's new in 2019?

The Lions have largely been able to keep a consistent list following on from their 2018 campaign.

Despite losing joint Neville Fallon Medal winner Claye Beams and experienced campaigners Rohan Bewick, Tom Bell and Jack Frost, the Club would be confident it has strengthened its list with a host of talent coming in.

Marcus Adams (Western Bulldogs), Lincoln McCarthy (Geelong), Jarryd Lyons (Gold Coast) and Lachie Neale (Fremantle) were big acquisitions through trades and free agency, and draftees Ely Smith, Thomas Berry, Thomas Joyce, Connor McFadyen, and Noah Answerth are hungry for a AFL debut in their first year.

First month

The Lions Lions kick off their 2019 season with a tough opening stretch with only one home game in their first month of the season.

Round 1 will see the toughest road trip in the competition – taking on NT Thunder in Darwin, a match they lost in the corresponding round last year.

The Lions will return for a home game against the GIANTS in Round 2 at Burpengary, before heading back to Graham Rd in a rematch against Asply in Round 3.

Finishing off the first month of matches is a date with rivals Gold Coast in a Q Clash curtain raiser at Metricon Stadium.

2019 will be a hit if...

The Lions' core senior group in the NEAFL can take it to the next level.

There is plenty of buzz around the club that the AFL side can climb a few places in 2019, but the Lions will need more players in the NEAFL side putting their hands up each week.

Ruckman Archie Smith will be one to watch, and the likes of Ben Keays, Cedric Cox, Sam Skinner, Mitch Hinge, Jacob Allison, and Connor Ballenden will need to go to the next level this year. If they can do that, the Lions will be a tough side to beat.

2019 will be a miss if...

Their midfield can’t sustain its dominance.

One of the Lions’ strengths in the past few years has been a consistent midfield group, which is known for pushing forward and kicking goals.

The Lions ranked second in the competition behind Southport for goals scored last year, despite finishing fifth, highlighting the evenness of the competition.

Supporting key forward Ballenden (19 goals) was Ryan Bastinac (19), Claye Beams (16), Toby Wooller (16), Ben Keays (14) and Rohan Bewick (14). If their attack dries up in 2019 it could mean the Lions as a whole could to.

Star power

The Lions’ Neville Fallon best-and-fairest was shared by four players in 2018 and it will likely be where their star power lies in 2019.

Despite Beams being delisted, the trio of Bastinac, Keays and Lyons will be key to their success again.

In addition, defender Sam Skinner is on the road back from yet another knee reconstruction and will play a big role in the NEAFL as he looks to regain his place at AFL level.

Rookie watch

First round pick Ely Smith is a big bodied midfielder and should have an immediate impact in the Lions NEAFL outfit.

Pick No.21 in the 2018 NAV AFL Draft, Smith will likely find himself playing some midfield time as he presses his claim for AFL selection throughout the year.

There will be plenty of potential AFL draftees to watch out for too, with Cody Stackelberg and 2018 Allies squad member Darcy Marsh, Jessie Quint, Keidean Coleman and Tom Matthews set to lead the Lions’ U19 Academy squad.

Season opener

Round 1: Brisbane Lions v NT Thunder
Saturday, 6 April from 6.30pm
TIO Stadium, NT

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs