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Key match ups: R9

Last Time We Met: Brisbane R8, 2017 We met in a far cooler region last time we met, but the Hawks got the job done against their old GM of Footy's side.

The Lions will be hunting for their first win of the season against a Hawthorn side coming off a heartbreaking eight-point loss. And of course, the match marks the first time Luke Hodge will face his old side.

While it appears to be a one-sided contest, Brisbane have surprised teams this season, nearly stealing victory against the Power and coming within seven points of Collingwood a fortnight ago.

Both sides tout big-name players in the midfield, with contested beast Tom Mitchell taking out best on ground honours against the Lions in Round 8 last year.

There are sure to be plenty of interesting match-ups on Sunday afternoon that will impact the result.

Here are some of the potential match-ups to watch out for:

Tom Mitchell vs Dayne Beams

If Brisbane don’t send a tagger to Tom Mitchell, we could see two midfield bulls pitted against each other. Mitchell had a night to forget by his lofty standards against the Swans, finishing with 20 disposals thanks to close attention from George Hewett. Beams was also quiet last week with 17 touches and has been a class below his best this season.  The Lions allowed Jack Macrae to amass 47 disposals last week and we know Mitchell is capable of those sorts of numbers. The ball magnet polled three Brownlow votes last time these two sides met and will be hungry for redemption on Sunday.

James Sicily vs Eric Hipwood

James Sicily has become one of the premier interceptors in the competition, with his ability to read the ball in the air proving to be a weapon. The 23-year-old is ranked fifth in the competition for intercepts per game in 2018, to go with 25.2 possessions per game. Youngster Eric Hipwood will have his hands full keeping Sicily accountable, especially considering his lean return of 10 goals this season. He has produced some memorable highlights over his short career, so it may be a closer battle than it seems. However, Lions coach Chris Fagan may opt to send a defensive forward to Sicily, such is his rich vein of form.

Luke Breust vs Luke Hodge

One of the big questions this weekend is who Luke Hodge will go to, and his most likely opponent is a familiar face in Luke Breust. The goal-sneak is arguably in career best form, sitting second in the Coleman Medal race with 23 goals. Remarkably, he is also fifth in the competition for goal assists, making his scoreboard impact even greater.  Despite playing in three premierships together there will be no love lost between the pair, in what should be an intriguing match-up. Breust would be the favourite to take the points based on current form.

Daniel Howe vs Dayne Zorko

Daniel Howe did a fantastic job of curbing Josh P. Kennedy’s influence on Friday night - the in-form player of the previous fortnight - limiting him to just 19 touches. Considering Dayne Zorko’s trouble with tags this season, Howe is likely to line up against him on Sunday. Despite a poor start to 2018, Zorko’s past two weeks have been prolific, averaging 29 disposals and 8.5 tackles while hitting the scoreboard with eight majors. He was among the Lions best last time the two sides met with 31 touches and 11 tackles, but he will have a tougher time of it if Howe is by his side.

Ben McEvoy vs Stefan Martin

Ben McEvoy faces one of his toughest assignments yet up against Lions ruckman Stefan Martin. The 28-year-old broke even with Swan Callum Sinclair last weekend, registering four more disposals and five less hit-outs. On the other side of the ledger, Martin monstered an undermanned Bulldogs ruck outfit tallying 50 hit-outs and 20 touches. Martin had the better of McEvoy in their last encounter, finishing with 13 disposals, 10 tackles, 63 hit-outs and two Brownlow votes in the Hawks’ 38-point win in Launceston. It looms as an interesting contest considering both ruckman’s strength around the ground.  

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs