IT'S NOT often the word "crisis" can be attached to a team sitting equal top of the ladder.
But for Brisbane, waywardness in front of goal is now in that zone, and threatening, for a second consecutive season, to suck the life out of a serious crack at a premiership.
The Lions held on against St Kilda at the Gabba on Sunday by two points, their 14 behinds alongside six goals nearly costing then the win, which was similar to last weekend when their 7.11 scoreline left them in front by just one point against the team sitting second-last on the ladder, North Melbourne.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
Brisbane has booted 124 goals and 159 behinds in 2020 in its 10 wins and three losses this year. On seven occasions in 2020, it has kicked more behinds than goals in a match, twice horrendously – 10.23 against Adelaide in a round four win and 4.17 against Richmond in a round 10 loss.
It is a genuine problem, one which last season cost the club a proper chance at a flag. In a 2019 qualifying final at the Gabba, Brisbane had 25 scoring shots to 22 against eventual premier Richmond but lost by 47 points (8.17 to 18.4).
The next week, again, the Lions had 25 scoring shots, to their opponent's 23, but lost by three points with an 11.14 scoreline and therefore exited out of the finals in straight sets in two home finals, from a starting position of second.
Eric Hipwood was the biggest offender against St Kilda on Sunday, with three behinds and another very wayward shot. Lincoln McCarthy and Charlie Cameron have also missed more than an acceptable amount of goals this year. Hugh McCluggage is compiling a very nice season, but he's kicked 5.15. Jarryd Lyons has 2.6. Dayne Zorko 6.11. Jarrod Berry, who was accurate against St Kilda with two goals straight, one off his non-preferred left foot, has 5.8 for the year.
With a depleted Collingwood up next, then Gold Coast, Sydney and Carlton, the Lions are beautifully poised to finish top-four.
ROUNDS 13-18 Check out the full fixture
But it won't matter if they can't rectify their choking in front of goal. It cost them a chance at a flag last year, and the gurgling sounds are louder to this point of 2020.
No need for the whinging, Clarko and Woosha
Alastair Clarkson and John Worsfold are among the most decorated all-time AFL identities. They have earned the right to say pretty much whatever crosses their minds.
But they're both wasting energy in bemoaning media coverage of the sputtering football clubs they're coaching.
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Clarkson: "There's more people that cover AFL footy than cover federal politics, so they've all gotta have something to say, to feel like … to retain their jobs, that's the game, it's an opinion game, it's a great feature of our game.
"Young (Peter) Ladhams two weeks ago kicked nearly the goal of the year from the boundary line, and Dylan Grimes was having a laugh at him in the goal square after that. But Richmond are one of the best sides in the competition, so nothing gets said."
Worsfold: "I've read some comments from people that are pretty well-respected people in the footy industry, and they sound like six-year-old kids, it's pretty embarrassing to read what some people say.
"It's a passionate game. I get that. But we're going to stick the course and we are going to be a very good team, very quickly."
Hawthorn sits 15th on the ladder, one percentage point above the 16th-placed Swans, one match clear of 17th-placed North Melbourne. While there are reasons, season 2020 has been horrendous for the Hawks, and clearly, Clarkson has not been able to conjure any form of the coaching magic that has netted him four premierships.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
He'd be better off focusing on analysing his recruiting of recent seasons than concerning himself with justified media scrutiny.
So too Worsfold. He's now had five seasons at Essendon. His first was a total write-off, with mass suspensions of players unrelated to his own actions. The two finals he's reached in that time were lost by 65 and 55 points.
He won't be making finals in 2020, and yet, as he has done since day one and did so again on Saturday night after clipping the media, he promised a bright Bombers future.
There have been lots of promises under his watch. As I wrote here this time last week, I can't see why Ben Rutten isn't given full control of the Bombers for the remainder of 2020.
Just so there's no confusion, that is not being disrespectful of Worsfold.
Worsfold has no future with Essendon. He has stated that publicly. Season 2020 has not gone to plan. The club's many problems are now the responsibility of Rutten. May as well start the big-picture fix right now.
A 185cm spearhead? Why not, says Mitch
LOVE the sports stories that revolve around personal reinvention, and in 2020, no one in the AFL has transformed himself more than Mitch Wallis.
Smart enough to realise that his worth to the Western Bulldogs purely as a midfielder was waning, Wallis has become the quasi full-forward, all 185cm of him.
Four more goals on the weekend, against Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Saturday, took to 20 his goal tally for the year.
Marcus Bontempelli, Aaron Naughton, Josh Dunkley, Jack Macrae, Jason Johannisen and a few others are always considered the keys to the Dogs. But Wallis deserves to be added to that list.
There are few stronger players in the entire competition, he's got an old-fashioned full-forward's brain, and he's an accurate kick (20.8 for the year).
The Bulldogs' win against the Demons was crucial to their finals hopes. Tough matches are to come against Geelong and West Coast, followed by Hawthorn and Fremantle. A 2-2 scoreline from here should be enough.