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Witherden: Lions on high-alert

Growing up as a North Melbourne supporter, Brisbane Lions' Alex Witherden knows all too well how the Kangaroos bounce back from a round one hiding.

Including last Sunday's 82-point shellacking from Fremantle, North has lost nine of its past 10 opening rounds.

Five times they have rebounded a week later to win.

After spanking premier West Coast first up, Witherden says the Lions are on high-alert for a "fired up" Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

"Being a North supporter, I remember years and years where they'd always perform poorly in round one," Witherden told 

"They often lose in round one and then often perform really well in round two.

"From round two onwards, that kickstarts their season. They obviously learn a lot from that round one performance.

"It's something I noticed when I was younger.

"I'd always get frustrated with round one, but they'd always bounce back."

Not only do Brad Scott's men have a good round two record, but it's been five years since the Lions have had success against them.

In round 11 last year under the roof, North jumped to a 55-point half-time lead. 

The Lions played the final three quarters that day with just one man on the bench following injuries to Allen Christensen, Hugh McCluggage and Charlie Cameron.

Despite the setback, they won the second half by a point, and although the match was well and truly lost, Witherden said the resilience they showed was a turning point.

"We took away a lot of positives from that second half," Witherden said.

"Because we were so cooked we had to play a lot smarter. It helped our ball movement.

"Boys were cracking in trying to win the footy because the boys didn't want to be chasing arse for the rest of the day.

"Fages had a stern word to us at half-time and we rectified things.

"We took a lot away from that second half and from that point on in the season we started to play some good footy."

In fact, following the next week's bye, the Lions put another loss to Greater Western Sydney behind them and proceeded to rattle off three-straight wins.

"This weekend will be a huge challenge. They'll be fired up.

"We feel we're in a better position this year compared to last year, out bodies have matured, we've got some middle-age recruits to help us around the ball and hopefully we can counteract the guys like (Jack) Ziebell, (Shaun) Higgins and (Ben) Cunnington who have got a hold of us."

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