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Cats to be Crowned King of the Jungle Against Lions

The Brisbane Lions play host to the Geelong Cats on Thursday in a clash between the top four teams at the Gabba.

Geelong rides a six-game winning streak and is currently in the third spot. Four points behind are the Brisbane Lions, who have won four of their last five.

Danyle Pearce of Port Adelaide kicks the ball during the AFLChallenge Trophy between Port Adelaide and Geelong

It was a one-point game when they met earlier this season, so we’re not surprised the online sportsbook has framed an even market.

Geelong Continuing Fine Form

Winning six consecutive games isn’t easy in the AFL, but the Geelong Cats have gone about their business stylishly.

Since losing to the Sydney Swans by two points, Geelong has beaten the likes of Richmond, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, and Western Bulldogs. Those are all top-level wins, including the 63-point win over Richmond which was outstanding.

Beating a team like the Tigers by such a big margin is something no other team has achieved for many years. They also scored a 136-39 win over the West Coast Eagles before losing to Sydney, so the Cats are capable of producing the goods.

However, they will have to proceed without Mitch Duncan, who could be out for over two months with a serious knee injury.

“We were expecting that the injury was to Mitch’s PCL, and the scan confirmed that,” Geelong’s general manager of football Simon Lloyd told AFL.com.

“There was no other damage to Mitch’s knee. The rehabilitation timelines will be further discussed with our medical and fitness team in consultation with specialists.

“We will explore all available options that will allow Mitch to return as quickly and safely as possible.”

Despite the injury, it’s full steam ahead for Geelong. It comes off a stunning 83-78 win over the Western Bulldogs, and that should give it plenty of confidence.

Scoring a last-gasp win can galvanize a team and provide a sense of invincibility. Aussie Rules betting markets could be underestimating the strength of the Cats this week.

Lions Recover After Tough Start

Losing three of the first four games wasn’t an ideal start for Brisbane, but it has climbed into a top-four spot.

The Lions started with losses to Sydney, Geelong, and Western Bulldogs, but they have since rebounded with eight wins from the last nine games.

The only other loss came to league leaders Melbourne, so we’re prepared to forgive that outing. However, we weren’t impressed with their performance against the lowly North Melbourne Kangaroos in Round 14.

Scoring a 68-45 win against the Kangaroos isn’t a comprehensive victory, which is why it’s surprising to see the Lions at -5½ for this game. We priced them as slight underdogs, despite having a home ground advantage.

Playing at the Gabba has been a big help for the Lions, which have scored five consecutive home wins. The only home loss came against the Swans in Round One, so they have been solid since.

Brisbane adopted a “moneyball” strategy and it has paid dividends. It doesn’t have the blockbuster names on the roster, but it’s proving to be a winning formula.

“They’re getting country kids, they don’t want metro kids, nothing against the talent, but they know this is a destination club Brisbane and they’ve never had that before,” Hawthorn great Ben Dixon said.

“They’re building a culture. I just love the profile that they’ve done on their Moneyball, because someone else’s trash is our treasure, and they build it so well.”

What Happened Last Time?

The Cats played host to the Lions in Round Two and it was the Cats that came away with a one-point victory.

It was an unlucky loss for the Lions, who should have been awarded a free kick on the full-time buzzer, but the refs called to play on. The AFL would later admit to the refereeing error, which isn’t much consolation.

Geelong had a 33-17 after the first quarter and padded that lead to 20 points at halftime. It was stretched to 21 by three-quarter time, but the Lions came roaring back to take the lead with minutes remaining.

Two late behinds for Brisbane wasn’t enough to bridge the gap, which goes down as a hard-luck loss.

Cats vs Lions Pick

There is value in Geelong going 2-0 against the Lions. It’s the in-form team of the competition and despite losing a key player, it has the depth needed.

Brisbane is also in winning form and it has the benefit of playing at home. However, we weren’t impressed with the win over the Kangaroos and life will be much harder against Geelong.

The Cats get +5½ points and that’s more than enough to see them cover the spread.

Pick: Geelong Cats +5½ (-110)

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