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Ferocious Lions win their first NAB Cup

04 Apr 2013

By Robert Bremner

Brisbane has won its first ever NAB cup and first silverware in 10 years against Carlton by 40 points in March.

In a match filled with fluctuating momentum, it was the Lions that finished stronger kicking nine of the last 10 goals. Jonathan Brown kicked a bag of five while Daniel Rich won the Michael Tuck Medal for best player on the night.

Carlton struggled in defence, unable to contain the Lions’ forwards who, in the second half, continued to find space.

Whether these two sides can continue their form into the season is another question. History suggests they can with the grand finalists from the past five NAB cup finals going on to make the top eight in the following season.

Recent form suggests that both these teams will climb the ladder this season. Carlton should make the top eight or, if not, will once again be knocking on the door. They have a mature list and a brilliant midfield, although it could take them a year to become accustomed to Mick Malthouse’s game plan.

The Lions are still young with many relatively unknown players. They were the only unbeaten side throughout the NAB Cup and convincingly beat a lot of sides higher than them on last year’s ladder.  I think they will come close but won’t quite make the eight.

As for the rest of the ladder predictions, the top four will be similar to last season although I expect West Coast to swap with Adelaide. Adelaide and Fremantle are my tips to just miss out on the top four but still slide into the eight.

The remaining two spots will be wrestled between Geelong, Richmond, Carlton, North Melbourne and Essendon.

2013 will be the year where the “House of Pain” returns. This is in reference to Patersons Stadium, the home ground of the Western Australian teams. Both the Dockers and the Eagles have looked in fine form this pre-season and winning over there is never easy. Pencil them both in for a top-six finish.

For the long-suffering Richmond supporters I think this may be finally your year to break the finals drought.

Just below the 11 teams will lie St Kilda and Brisbane. The Saints are gradually sliding down the ladder. With an aging list and the next group of youngsters not yet experienced enough, they will spend another September watching on.

Brisbane is similar in that they too have a lot of inexperienced players. Although don’t be surprised if they manage to creep up a little higher.

Expect the two expansion clubs to be the cellar dwellers again in 2013. However they will cause a few upsets throughout the year.

Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide will also remain towards the foot of the ladder and continue developing their year sides. The gap between these five sides and the rest of the competition will be very evident in 2013.

With 11 teams all likely contenders for September action this year, it’s going to be another close season.

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