Brisbane’s Mitch Robinson puts the clamps on Giant Nick Haynes. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Brisbane’s Mitch Robinson puts the clamps on Giant Nick Haynes. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Brisbane contenders, Giants pretenders?

It was the battle of two teams keen to stamp their premiership credentials. While the Lions launched, the Giants floundered and it's left plenty of questions for coach Leon Cameron.

GWS have dropped out of the top four and face a further free fall over the coming month unless coach Leon Cameron can urgently arrest his side's alarming lethargy in the big moments.

The Giants allowed a gutsy Lions outfit to get out by 20 early and never really looked like pegging back the momentum as Brisbane maintained the pressure and stuck to a strong game plan to run out 94-74 winners - a scoreline that flattered GWS.

GWS have lost back-to-back matches they would have been expected to win over Essendon and Brisbane, and must now brace for a testing month against top eight heavies Richmond, Collingwood and Port Adelaide.

Cameron's side can take some comfort in the fact fellow contenders Geelong and Collingwood also suffered poor defeats, to suggest the premiership race is wide open. But the lights could quickly go out on the orange army for another year unless they quickly find a way to rise out of their slumber.

 

 

Statistically GWS weren't terribly off the pace in most areas during the first half, but missed opportunities and a lack of patience played into the hands of a Brisbane outfit that made fast breaks off the halfback line and consistently swarmed in defence in front of a small crowd at Giants Stadium.

The Giants have now lost three out of their last four, but it's their lack of response to last week's butchered performance against the Bombers that will be raising the greatest alarm bells.

Harry Himmelberg (four goals) and Toby Greene (three) hit the scoreboard for the Giants, but the hosts were left to rue a couple of simple missed set shots by spearhead Jeremy Cameron in front of goal.

Midfielders Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio were dominant in the middle, yet GWS were utterly powerless to capitalise.

 

 

Chris Fagan has turned the Brisbane Lions into a budding powerhouse. Picture: Getty Images
Chris Fagan has turned the Brisbane Lions into a budding powerhouse. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

 

 

CHRIS FAGAN

Lions boss Chris Fagan is putting his hand up for coach of the year.

Brisbane have now leapfrogged GWS into the top four and are building as a dark horse as the winter wears on - 10 years since their last finals appearance.

They have been tested away from Queensland, but at Giants Stadium they were on from the opening bounce and Fagan's tactics expertly shut down a GWS opposition that is used to getting on top at home and blowing teams off the park.

Lincoln McCarthy was outstanding for the Lions kicking three goals, while Charles Cameron and Allen Christensen marshalled the forward 50 expertly.

 

 

There was no holding back from Harris Andrews against the side that left him concussed the last time he played them. Picture: Phil Hillyard
There was no holding back from Harris Andrews against the side that left him concussed the last time he played them. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

 

HARRIS ANDREWS HITS BACK

A year on from the sickening collision where Lions star Harris Andrews was left with bleeding on the brain and concussion following an illegal hit from Jeremy Cameron, there was no love lost between the Giants and Brisbane.

Andrews was strong against the side that left him deeply shaken and hospitalised, and although he and Cameron didn't directly clash again yesterday, the Lions took up the fight on his behalf.

GWS protagonist Greene did his best to win the verbal battle, but was silenced by the scoreboard.

The Giants' other Jeremy, Jeremy Finlayson did make a cheeky attempt to get under Andrews' skin on the stroke of halftime when he hurled the defender's boot downfield.

 

 

Brisbane stalwarts Dayne Zorko, Darcy Gardiner and Mitch Robinson celebrate the win. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Brisbane stalwarts Dayne Zorko, Darcy Gardiner and Mitch Robinson celebrate the win. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

 

THE NIGHT EVERYTHING CHANGED FOR LIONS

Mark Round 16, 2019 in your memories, Brisbane fans.

The 20-point win over GWS wasn't only the best of Chris Fagan's coaching career, it was also the result that shifted the perception of the Lions.

In beating a top four side and genuine premiership contender they became one themselves.

Coach Chris Fagan says he will talk about finals when he has the 12 or 13 wins needed to be certain starters, but he was happy to say he believes his side is playing finals style football.

"It seems like the brand of footy we are playing is standing up in these sorts of games,'' he said.

"I feel like, and I reckon our players believe that our brand stands up.

"It is contested, it is not always pretty, but we get there and we find a way to score.

"The way we play is the sort of band that goes well in finals.''

 

Marcus Adams brought his pressure-packed defensive game in his Lions debut. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Marcus Adams brought his pressure-packed defensive game in his Lions debut. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

The Lions looked to be cruising towards a comfortable victory when High McCluggage, who had produced another strong performance, booted his first goal of the match.

But GWS weren't done yet.

They finally began to start capitalizing on their flood of possession and clear dominance out of the center of the ground.

They kicked three of the last four goals but the Lions held firm to record the 14.10 (94) to 11.8 (74) victory in front of a crowd of 12, 268.

Brisbane had been the feel good side who were a chance to make the finals.

Now they are in the top four and if they can hang on to that position, they would be a scary proposition for any side.

"It is nice to be able to jump up into the to four but we can't get too excited, we have to go to Adelaide to play Port Adelaide and they are on fire,'' Fagan said.

"So we don't want to bask in glory for too long.''

 

The Lions get around Zac Bailey after a goal. Picture: AAP
The Lions get around Zac Bailey after a goal. Picture: AAP

 

 

Their 10th win of the season owed a lot to superb efficiency from their inside fifty entries.

They had five more scoring shots form eight less entries than the usually high scoring Giants.

But it was the ability to restrict one of the premiership favourites to 19 shots on goal on their own deck demonstrates the kind of pressure football that will be required in the finals.

"It has been one of our strong points of the year, we pride ourselves on that,'' he said.

"We have a lot of good tacklers, guys with pace and our big guys tackle well too.''

Brisbane's form at home has been rock solid, with the Easter Thursday shocker against Collingwood the only blemish.

They have beaten top eight sides West Coast, Port Adelaide and Adelaide at home this year but this win, at a venue they have never before won at, was the best of the season.

 

 

Eric Hipwood goes wild after booting a goal. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Eric Hipwood goes wild after booting a goal. Picture: Phil Hillyard