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Spotlight on ruck as momentum gains
Brisbane Lions Football Club
Tue 1 May, 2001


The Lions face the same decision with their big man roster for the Geelong clash as the one that confronted them last week, but at least this time around they have some momentum behind them.
The coaching staff drafted 18-year-old Queenslander Jamie Charman into the line-up for last Sunday’s clash with Fremantle, but he was used sparingly due to Beau McDonald’s good form in the ruck.
With Clark Keating ruled out again, coach Leigh Matthews admitted the coaches again had three choices to make – go with one ruckman; use two ruckmen, and if so, who gets the nod to support Beau McDonald.
The issue is a more critical one than last week because the Cats have in-form All-Australian ruckman Steven King as their main strike weapon, although the Cats camp is holding its breath over the video analysis of Sunday’s loss to Port Adelaide and an incident involving King.
King’s fate could also have an impact on which way the selectors’ fall, although coach Leigh Matthews was giving nothing away.
“We chose to go with the first gamer in Jamie Charman (last week), not that we used him as a key position forward, but (because) we thought that we could use him at a pinch moreso than Trent Knobel,” Matthews said. “The same decision has to be made again this week about that particular position.”
McDonald was comprehensively outpointed by Bulldog Luke Darcy prior to the Fremantle game, but stepped up against the less experienced Dockers and was pivotal to the Lions’ final quarter onslaught by punching the ball forward at centre bounces.
“We were hopeful that Beau playing the full game last week (even though) he didn’t have a good game against the Bulldogs, may have helped him for Fremantle,” Matthews said.
Often teams that finish a game strongly ride that momentum surge into the following week, although Matthews is hoping the way that the Lions played in the last 25 minutes against Fremantle will instil added confidence in their own games.
“For the first time we probably broke the shackles of apprehension and tension and being under pressure,” he said. “We got a few goals in front and everyone relaxed and started to play.
“I think our team’s been surrounded by a fair bit of pressure because we played well in the Ansett Cup series and were well regarded going into the home and away series.
“Port Adelaide are going as well as anyone and we just got beaten by that kick by them in Adelaide, we did okay against the Kangaroos, (and) lost our next two, so there’s been a lot of pressure to live up to outside expectations and honestly our own expectations for that matter.
“Blokes get a bit tense about that. The good thing about the last quarter was the last 15 minutes the guys played with a bit of freedom and (without) that nervous tension that surrounds you. I hope it will be very good for the future where you have a 15-minute patch where we’re nice and relaxed.”
Matthews also had some words of encouragement for beleaguered Fremantle coach Damian Drum. The Dockers have been much more competitive than in recent seasons, but that message is wearing thin with the media and disgruntled Dockers’ supporters after five straight losses to start 2001.
“Fremantle’s lost all their games, but all of them they’ve been in,” Matthews said. ”They’re not a hopeless AFL team – they’re a competitive opposition against anyone they play.
“Games often break open in the last 10 minutes. Margins don’t mean much in terms of winning and losing because games can break open, and therefore games that have been tight for three and a half quarters (blow out) .
“One side might get it going and you might win by six goals. It doesn’t mean that the losing team’s been that bad.”
Geelong won their opening two games of the season against West Coast and St Kilda and were being touted as a tough unit that was going to match most sides, but they have sunk to three inglorious defeats since then.
The Lions and Cats sit ninth and 10th on the AFL leader, just percentage behind eighth-placed Collingwood, and a win is again critical to both.