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Match preview: Gold Coast v Brisbane Lions

Michael Whiting  March 21, 2017 1:03 PM

Pick a Winner: GC v BL Duck and Browny preview the Suns v Lions
AFL 2017 JLT Community Series - Gold Coast v Brisbane

Pearce Hanley will be ready for his former teammates

It's taken a while, but this Queensland rivalry finally has a bit of genuine bad blood. It came to a head last year with Steven May's crude bump on Stefan Martin, but the QClash has slowly earned a reputation as a fiery matchup. Both clubs have been through plenty of off-season changes on and off the field, and despite it just being the opening round, this is a must-win for the Suns. They have genuine aspirations of making the top-eight and can't be dropping matches like these. Under new coach Chris Fagan, the Lions have been structured and competitive during the pre-season and have an excellent midfield, but in new leaders Tom Lynch, May and former skipper Gary Ablett, the Suns should have too much polish.

WHERE AND WHEN: Metricon Stadium, Saturday, March 25, 7.05pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide 

R16, 2016, Gold Coast 22.7 (139) d Brisbane Lions 17.11 (113) at Metricon Stadium
R4, 2016, Brisbane Lions 14.23 (107) d Gold Coast 14.10 (94) at the Gabba
R19, 2015, Gold Coast 17.12 (114) d Brisbane Lions 14.16 (100) at the Gabba
R5, 2015, Gold Coast 18.10 (118) d Brisbane Lions 7.12 (54) at Metricon Stadium
R18, 2014, Brisbane Lions 16.14 (110) d Gold Coast 8.8 (56) at the Gabba 

1. When these teams last played, Gold Coast kicked its highest score of the season (139 points) and ran away with a 12 goals to six first half. Tom Lynch and Peter Wright combined for 10 goals. 

2. This will be the 13th QClash and the Lions hold a seven wins to five advantage. Gold Coast has won three of the past four.

3. The Lions struggled in a number of statistical categories in 2016, ranking last in average disposals, marks, contested marks and uncontested possessions a game.

4. Gold Coast had a mixed 2016 on its home ground, winning five of 11 matches. The Lions won just once away from home last season, against wooden spooners Essendon.

5. Both teams struggled to score last season, averaging just 80 points a game. For the Suns, this was despite getting 66 goals from Tom Lynch, who finished fourth in the competition in that category.

6. After a stellar 2016, Lions deputy vice-captain Dayne Zorko surged into the top 10 of the Official AFL Player Ratings. Zorko is currently 10th overall after averaging 24 disposals and six tackles, and kicking 23 goals last year.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Pearce Hanley
The classy Irishman played 129 games over nine seasons for the Lions before his off-season switch. Dogged by a hip injury the past two years, Hanley has had an excellent pre-season, and his run-and-carry fits the Suns' style perfectly. Playing your former club for the first time is always a big occasion, and the 28-year-old gets that chance first up.

PREDICTION: Gold Coast by 28 points

2017 AFL Tipping