Underdog Lions ready to roar
UNDERDOG status suits the Brisbane Lions just fine, says defender Kate Lutkins.
The former Ipswich footballer is preparing to play in her second-consecutive AFLW grand final, following a drama-filled final round in which the Lions moved from fifth to second position.
They will take on minor premiers the Western Bulldogs at Ikon Park on Saturday.
Entering round seven, Lutkins' Lions needed to win big over the Giants on the Friday night and hope for results to go their way in two of the three remaining contests.
After the Bulldogs defeated Melbourne by two points on the Saturday, the Lions needed Collingwood to best last season's premiers Adelaide, to send the Brisbane side through to the decider.
The Magpies stormed home, booting 22 unanswered points in the second half to win by 21 points.
Lutkins admitted it was "a little bit weird” cheering for a Collingwood win.
"It was an up and down rollercoaster of emotions,” the defender recalled of watching the match with her teammates.
"The first step for us was to win that game (against GWS). We had to win that convincingly, and the rest was out of our control.
"Playing the way we did reinforced just how much we wanted that chance at making the final."
Lutkins would not be drawn on using last season's grand final defeat to the Crows as motivation against the Bulldogs.
But she does believe the team will be better prepared this time around, having experienced the pressure before.
"Grand final day is just another day of footy, the sun will always come up the next day,” Lutkins said.
"We'll definitely take everything we learnt from last year's grand final - we've already done some things differently (from last season).
"We're feeling really good about the weekend, there's a really good vibe about the club.”
The Lions went undefeated last season before narrowly losing in the inaugural grand final.
Despite that, they were still given little chance by pundits to return to the big stage in 2018.
Lutkins said the drive amongst the group was not to prove the doubters wrong, but all about working for each other.
"We really do enjoy and thrive off being the underdog,” she said.
"It drives us and makes us closer. (The doubters) didn't affect us, but we used it to our advantage.
"We're just embracing the opportunity we have of being a team that has made two grand finals.”
The Bulldogs were nine-point victors over the Lions in their round two encounter on February 11.
But they will be without skipper Katie Brennan for the rematch, after the key forward failed in her bid to have a two-match suspension overturned for rough conduct in the win over Melbourne.
"We'll look at the footage from (the round two) game and build a game plan and structure around it,” Lutkins said. "They're the same opposition. We'll just go out there and play our footy.
"(Brennan's absence) doesn't change our outlook. Obviously it's disappointing for her, I can't imagine being in that position and missing a grand final. But it doesn't impact us.”