We’ve just passed the 2018/19 W-League season’s halfway-point, meaning it’s time for The Football Sack to hand down its scathing review of each team’s performance.

So, how have Brisbane Roar stacked up so far this season and does Santa have any presents (Hayley Raso’s return) coming to maybe help them through the next seven rounds?

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Semester summary:

It’s been an interesting season for the Roar. They definitely haven’t been bad but they haven’t lived up to the lofty expectation many had for them.

The off-season additions of two NWSL attackers in Yuki Nagasato and Chioma Ubogagu was supposed to bolster the defending premiers’ one weakness from last season: goal scoring. Currently languishing at equal sixth in the goal scoring charts with just eight goals in six matches, you could argue they’ve taken a step backwards.

Pair that with the fact their defence appears nowhere near as solid as it was last season (12 goals conceded in 12 matches last season vs ten goals conceded in six matches this season) and it’s easy to understand why fans may be disappointed in their performance so far.

Despite this, Brisbane currently find themselves at third on the ladder and only three points behind the league-leading Melbourne Victory. Given their gutsy 4-3 win over Victory last round – and facing the lowly Western Sydney Wanderers next up – a run at the top spot is well within the Roar’s reach.

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Areas of excellence:

Despite their lacklustre goal tally, Roar have been one of the league’s best teams when it comes to creating chances. At time of writing, they’ve created the second-most shots of any team with 95. This has been facilitated by their excellent passing. Stringing together the league’s second-most passes at a completion rate of 75%, they have looked a formidable team going forward. The only thing letting them down has been their sub-par conversion rate of just 10%.

After failing to score more than one goal in any of their previous matches, the 4-3 win they enjoyed over Victory could prove a crucial turning point in the Roar’s season if they’re able to capitalise and continue punishing teams with their wealth of talented attackers.

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Areas in need of improvement:

Consistency. That’s it.

It’s tempting to solely point to their conversion rate as a point to improve on and while converting more of their bountiful goal-scoring opportunities will do a lot, it must be combined with a concerted effort to shore up their defence.

They started the season well, conceding only two goals in their first four games but since then, they’ve gone on to concede eight goals in two. That’s simply unacceptable for a team with championship aspirations.

Losing key centre half Jenna McCormick to the AFL Women’s Adelaide Crows after Christmas will only hinder any attempt to stabilise Brisbane’s defence with likely replacement Summer O’Brien having only played 34 minutes so far this season.

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Top student:

The contributions of US import Carson Pickett have been crucial for the Roar so far. While she isn’t as defensively hard-nosed as some of her compatriots in the Brisbane backline, Pickett’s value as an attacking outlet has been phenomenal.

As well as scoring two goals from left back (tied with Yuki Nagasato for most Roar goals), only Katrina-Lee Gorry (15) and Chioma Ubogagu (12) have completed more key passes than Pickett (10). She’s also bombed in more successful crosses than any Brisbane player. Helps explain why she’s played every single minute of the season so far.

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Class clown:

It’s quite difficult to identify anyone who’s massively under-performed for Brisbane this season. Summer O’Brien’s general absence from the squad can be attributed to Jenna McCormick’s presence. Conversely, Chioma Ubogagu – though lacking in goals – has more than made up for it by creating the second-most chances of any Brisbane player (12).

Allira Toby is my pick for class clown. She’s never been the most prolific but one goal in five games with a conversion rate of 8% doesn’t scream excellence. Neither does managing only three shots on target so far this season.

Grade: B

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Outlook:

The biggest challenge for Roar going forward will be the loss of Jenna McCormick. Though Clare Polkinghorne is very much still the heart of Brisbane’s defence, they’ve had to rely on McCormick more than they’d probably like. This is especially pressing given the lack of game time given to either Summer O’Brien or Leah Davidson. How well Brisbane can transition into the post-McCormick segment of their season remains to be seen.

There is some relief with Brisbane’s attacking stocks soon to be bolstered with the return of Hayley Raso. The talented NWSL winger will likely line up on the right side of attack in place of Anna Margraf or Abbey Lloyd. While mid-season additions do risk upsetting the chemistry apple-cart, Raso may conversely be the final cog needed to get the Roar’s attack consistently firing.

Brisbane’s outlook for the remainder of the season almost entirely relies on:

a) their aforementioned defensive transition once McCormick leaves, and

b) how well they can maintain their goal scoring confidence.

If they can do both these things well, don’t be surprised to see them in the grand final. If they struggle in either one of these areas though they’ll likely be out-classed by the likes of Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory or Sydney FC for the premiership and championship.

Feature image credit: Brisbane Roar

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Loves Brisbane. Loves a pint. Loves a 'Kevin Muscat Bad Tackle' YouTube compilation.