AS statements go, Brisbane has made a massive one for the 2019 AFL season with a significant 44-point win over West Coast.
The Lions overhauled a 27-point quarter-time deficit to comprehensively outplay the reigning premiers for the last three terms and claim a 15.12 (102) to 8.10 (58) win at the Gabba on Saturday.
It’s the first time the Lions, tipped to be big improvers this year, have beaten the previous season’s premiers since round 12, 2009.
In what was a richly deserved victory, Lions recruits Lachie Neale, Lincoln McCarthy and Jarryd Lyons all had good games while captain Dayne Zorko and forwards Hugh McCluggage and Charlie Cameron were also impressive.
Neale picked up 29 disposals and ex-Geelong forward Lincoln McCarthy booted a career-high four goals.
Lyons, Zorko and McCluggage were three of 10 Lions to pick up 20 or more disposals while Cameron booted three first-half goals in his first AFL match since tearing a Lisfranc tendon in his right ankle last June.
Young gun Cam Rayner booted two goals including a late major which capped off the hugely impressive victory.
“It’s only one game, I suppose, but I was just proud of our blokes today,” Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said.
“We were 27 points down at quarter time, things weren’t looking good.
“It was a good show of mental strength I reckon from our blokes to be able to actually do that.
“Sometimes young teams crumble when the premiership team do that to you in the first quarter but I thought we showed really good resilience.”
The Eagles headed east without several of their grand final players.
Veteran Mark LeCras has retired while Willie Rioli, Josh Kennedy and Jamie Cripps were all out injured.
Despite the absences, the Eagles charged to a healthy first term lead with six goals in the opening quarter including two to youngster Oscar Allen.
The visitors only booted two more goals after that, however, with the rampant Lions kicking 14 in the last three quarters.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson was full of praise for the Lions and simply admitted his team hadn’t been good enough on the night.
“We got beat around the ball for most of the night. The numbers will tell you we well and truly did,” Simpson said.
“When it really mattered we didn’t compete well enough and then the last 10 minutes we lost it which, that’s probably one of the more disappointing parts of the night as well.
“They’ve got a tremendous belief. We thought we’d worked through that in the first quarter and the way they responded, we didn’t handle it.
“We’ve got to review and look at it in fine detail like we do every week and get better.”
A crowd of 20,029 gave the Lions a standing ovation at halftime and three-quarter time as they charged to the win.
That attendance included the recipients of 500 free tickets handed out by the Lions to patrons at 12 Brisbane mosques on Friday in a show of support to the local Muslim community after last week’s terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Lions will aim to build on their win on the road against North Melbourne next weekend while West Coast looks to get their premiership defence up and running against GWS in Perth.
© AAP 2019
BRISBANE LIONS 1.5 8.6 11.10 15.12 (102)
WEST COAST 6.2 7.5 7.5 8.10 (58)
Goals: Brisbane Lions: L McCarthy 4 C Cameron 3 C Rayner 2 D Rich D Zorko H McCluggage L Neale R Bastinac R Mathieson. West Coast: J Darling 2 O Allen 2 D Sheed D Venables E Yeo L Ryan.
Umpires: Shane McInerney, Brent Wallace, Nathan Williamson.
Official Crowd: 20,029 at Gabba.