Main content

QClash clearance battle is key

  - Gold Coast Suns,Jarryd Lyons

Although both Queensland teams have started the season relatively slowly, one area in which Brisbane and Gold Coast have excelled is around stoppages.

The winless Lions are yet to be defeated in a clearance count, while the SUNS (2-2) have lost that statistic just once – to the Aaron Sandilands-Nat Fyfe inspired Fremantle in round three.

Like most matches, ascendency around centre bounces and ball-ups looms as crucial in Sunday's QClash at the Gabba.

"The way AFL is today, ground positon is everything," Gold Coast midfielder Jarryd Lyons succinctly told

"Win clearances and go forward, then you can keep it in your forward 50 - it's huge."

Lyons has been among the best in the competition during the first month at doing so.

He is second behind Hawk Tom Mitchell for total clearances, fifth for winning it out of the centre and third in overall contested possessions behind Mitchell and Carlton's Patrick Cripps.

Although David Swallow and Touk Miller are reliable off-siders for Lyons, the SUNS face not only a midfield of their equal when it comes to extracting the ball from traffic, but one that is blessed with speed.

Brisbane's core is led by captain Dayne Beams – who was best on ground in both of his team's QClash wins in 2017 – Dayne Zorko and red-hot ruckman Stefan Martin.

The Lions have beaten St Kilda, Port Adelaide and even Richmond in clearance numbers, and drawn equal with Melbourne across the first four rounds.

Once clear of congestion, Zorko, Lewy Taylor, Hugh McCluggage, Charlie Cameron and second-gamer Zac Bailey have the speed to take advantage.

Lyons says he doesn't see it as a major concern, though.

"If we can restrict the ball getting to the outside where they can use their speed, that'll help us nullify that strength," he said.

"As a midfield group, that rests on us, working together to win it ourselves.

"Keeping it out of their hands is one way to stop it."

After losing two matches in Perth, Lyons says the onus is squarely on Gold Coast's men in the middle to right the ship on Sunday.

"The first two rounds we were really good. Freo we were a bit inconsistent and we were pretty poor last week," he said.

"As a midfield group we're two-and-two and that reflects where the team's at.

"It's important for us to bounce back this week.

"It's still early days but it's always nice to be ahead of the ledger in that regard.

"It's not a season-defining game.

"These games it doesn’t matter your form … playing in Showdowns and things like that, the teams that are lower tend to win a lot.

"Those rivalry clashes you can put the form out the window. We're looking forward to that challenge."