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The four certainties for Melbourne versus Brisbane


Labelling something a ‘certainty’ in any sport is fraught with danger.

But we’ll attempt to find some anyway.

Here is what we consider certainties for Thursday night’s clash between Melbourne and Brisbane:

Oliver to have 30+ disposals and 4+ clearances

Clayton Oliver loves the big stage, so expect him to thrive again on Thursday night.

While Brisbane’s midfield is deep and dominant, they’ve let Brad Crouch (26 possessions), Andrew Brayshaw (39 possessions) and Josh Kelly (31 possessions) get off the chain and be influential in their past three games.

With Oliver averaging over 38 disposals and seven clearances a game across his last four appearances, he’ll be prolific again at the MCG under lights.

May to make an immediate impact, hold Lions to less than 100 points

After being concussed early in the Demons’ first loss this year before missing the two subsequent defeats, Steven May returns to bolster the side’s defence in a desperately needed return.

Brisbane has comfortably kicked the most points of any side in 2022 (102.9 per game) and the club's tall forwards cause havoc for most teams, but May’s ability to marshal his teammates will be key in Melbourne holding their structure, one they've lost over recent weeks.

Without him and on the Demons’ recent form, Brisbane would be expected to kick over 100 points, but with May back you can count on that not happening on Thursday night.

Seb Mottram

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Neale to have 30+ disposals

Brisbane midfielder Lachie Neale has been prolific so far in 2022, averaging 32.4 disposals a game – the fourth-most in the AFL.

Last time out, Melbourne got the chocolates but allowed Neale to free-wheel and pick up an astonishing 46 possessions – and you’d expect them to take a similar gameplan into Thursday’s game.

With the likes of Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney in the midfield, Melbourne will back themselves in to beat Brisbane at the source head-to-head, allowing Neale to operate with relative freedom.

As Brisbane’s number one ball-winner in their biggest test of the year so far, expect Neale to rise and get his hands on the ball more than 30 times.

Oscar McInerney to have 25+ hitouts

Ruckman Oscar McInerney would’ve had this game circled on his calendar earlier this year as perhaps his toughest test, but that’s changed significantly over the last fortnight with Max Gawn injured.

Facing Luke Jackson and perhaps Sam Weideman as a second ruckman, McInerney now postures as the clash’s most dominant tap ruckman that’ll expect to get his hand to the ball at stoppages before his opponent.

Averaging 25.5 hitouts per game so far in 2022, expect McInerney to reach that figure against his somewhat undersized opponents on Thursday night.

Lachlan Geleit

Melbourne Brisbane Lions

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