The Gabba had been a happy hunting ground for the Magpies in recent years and the Lions were desperate to put an end to the streak.

They did just that with a no-nonsense attack on the footy and the man, applying pressure to Collingwood with waves of Lions chasing down any Pie with a bit of open space… kind of like me in the kitchen at the moment.

Despite a brilliant first half effort from Scott Pendlebury, the Lions set up their win with a dominant five goal second quarter. Amazingly, they would kick just one more goal for the entire game and still do enough to walk away victors.

It was a high-stakes and high-pressure game. Mistakes were plentiful and tempers flared as the hard nuts on both sides threw their bodies in with reckless abandon. Both sides suffered injuries, with Brisbane fans’ hearts leaping into their mouths as Harris Andrews hit the pine with a hamstring injury. His absence will be keenly felt as the Lions round into finals, but with a solid defensive unit, covering him in the short term won’t be the death knell for the team it may have once been.

There were plenty of questions to come out of this one and that’s what I am here for – here are the big questions stemming from the Brisbane win over Collingwood.

 

IS THIS THE WIN THAT MAKES THE LIONS BELIEVE?

This was a contest I was really interested in. Given the stat that the Pies had been winning at the Gabba as though it was there home game in recent years, I was eager to see whether the Lions would stand up, get physical and make a statement.

They did, and I was really relieved for them.

Relief – that’s the right word. The other hoodoo they’ve had has been against Richmond, and the Lions were incredibly disappointing against them this season. They had a point to prove there as well, and they slipped up. Had they slipped up here again, you have to wonder whether the little man on the shoulder would have had much to say if they ran into Collingwood in the finals.

Alas, the Lions put their foot on the throats of the Magpies in the second quarter and demonstrated that they were indeed up for the fight. After dropping games to the Pies at home, the Lions turned it all around in this one. It wasn’t pretty, but it was hard-fought, and given the physical nature of the contest, Brisbane will walk away knowing that when push comes to shove, this Magpie outfit has nothing on them at all.

One hoodoo down… now for a finals date with the Tigers. Perhaps it’s time to break another hoodoo?

 

HAS JARROD BERRY MADE THE NEXT STEP IN 2020?

Statistically, we are looking at a guy who seems to have gone a little backwards in 2020, but this is where stats fall down.

The eye-test… this is where you see the improvement in Jarrod Berry. At 22, he is coming to the realisation that he can hit and he can hit hard. His attack on the footy is unrelenting and there is no backward step in his repertoire when the football is in dispute.

Playing alongside contested beasts like Jarryd Lyons and Lachie Neale, Berry is not required to move mountains at the moment, but he is sure as hell shifting some pretty big hills when he has his time in the middle.

He had 24 touches in this game as he worked both ends of the ground to provide support to his defence and run forward to become a scoring threat. In a low-scoring game, to provide a goal as well as a direct goal assist, Berry’s influence was huge and if you’re looking to see where the next midfield hard nut comes from in Brisbane, look no further than Jarrod Berry.

Now, I want to see him drag his team with him in the finals this season. If the Lions need someone to put his head over the footy and win it, Jarrod Berry will be the man. Come back and see me in five weeks and tell me I’m wrong.

 

HOW GOOD IS SCOTT PENDLEBURY?

What a dumb question – ‘good’ does not even begin to describe the level of play he is capable of.

At 32 years old, he is still capable of being the most outstanding player on the park and was well on the way to being just that at half time in this game.

As the second quarter came to an end, Pendles had racked up the lazy 17 touches, six clearances and had driven the Pies inside fifty on four occasions. It was like watching a great artist create a masterpiece as he danced through traffic, cocked that handball to buy time, only to change direction and turn defenders around… he was everywhere.

At one stage in early in the first quarter, his disposal count matched that of the entire Brisbane team.

Earlier this year I published an article about Pendles’ place in the game and the growing number of records he’ll break before all is said and done. On current form, he’ll be around at least a couple of years, and maybe even more if he ends up slotting into a rebounding half back role when the going gets a little too hectic in the middle.

In 20-30 years, people will be checking out record books and asking questions about how good Pendlebury was. You’re watching him right now – it’s your duty to tell them; he is one of the greats.

 

COULD THE BIG O CONTINUE AS THE NUMBER ONE RUCKMAN?

His work against a guy that was regarded as the best in the business just 12 months ago cannot be ignored.

I don’t know whether Brodie Grundy is carrying an injury or just playing like a bloke who signed a big, fat contract, but the work of Oscar McInerney at stoppages this evening was first class. He led all players in clearances, with nine to his name and really, beat Grundy at his own game.

For context, in 2019, Grundy had 5+ clearances on 19 occasions. This year, he has managed it just three times. Yes, this is partly the shorter game duration, but if McInerney can grab nine and Grundy just grabs one… something’s up.

The Big O is showing surprising dexterity at ground level, and with 12 of his 15 touches coming in the contest, he is not at all afraid to get his hands dirty.

When playing as a forward, it was easy to look at big Oscar and consider him another big bloke who might clunk the occasional mark and do not much of anything else, but McInerney has developed his game and is becoming more and more of a threat both around goals and in ruck contests all over the park. Grundy rallied in the last quarter, his superior tank finally coming to the fore, but for those wondering what ruck life looks like in Brisbane after Stefan Martin, the way Oscar McInerney is playing right now would have you sleeping soundly at night.

 

WAS DARCY MOORE GAMBLING ON ERIC HIPWOOD?

I’m a big Darcy Moore fan, but he was giving Eric Hipwood way too much space in the first half, and but for his poor kicking at goal, Hipwood could have walked into half time with three… maybe even four goals to his name.

This was a game Hipwood needed to stand up in. He has been hit and miss for so long that people are not surprised when he has a quiet one, but slowly he is starting to compile more games that draw positive reviews than he does poor ones.

Moore was looking to zone off and help out his other defenders in the first half, and the determination of Hipwood to remain involved made Moore have to adjust his game to pay some respect to his direct opponent.

So yes, he did gamble and he did pay a bit of a penalty, but Hipwood’s kicking could have really hurt the Pies and Moore so much more had he been able to nail a couple more shots.

 

WHAT GAME IS DANIEL MCSTAY PLAYING?

It sure as hell doesn’t look like AFL-level football.

Here is your weak link, Lions.

The form of Daniel McStay… or more to the point – the lack of development from Daniel McStay has to be a source of concern for Chris Fagan and Brisbane fans. On a night when the Lions were cracking in and everyone was playing their part, one man failed to even go close to breaking even in terms of his performance.

Daniel McStay is playing similarly to Josh Bruce at the Western Bulldogs. They both have the size and ability, but are seemingly down on confidence to the point that any ball that goes in their direction will most likely be a turnover… even if they’re by themselves.

I counted three dropped uncontested marks from McStay in this game and it was a relief when he was sent into defence to help cover for the loss of Harris Andrews. Many will be talking about the dropped mark from Brody Mihocek as one of the biggest clangers of the season, but McStay has him beat for clanger consistency.

He ended up with five disposals – three of which were intercept touches once he went back. And look, it wasn’t as though he was being beaten by an opponent in defence… he was just unable to do anything he actually wanted to do. His mind, his hands… his doubts wouldn’t allow him.

Look, he could come out one day and take six contested grabs and ram home five goals, but that’s the tease of Daniel McStay, isn’t it? He shows all the signs of being able to do that, but when has he ever done it?

He hasn’t.

But you know what he has done? He has had seven or less touches in a game this season. And he’s done that in eight of his 12 games.

You can’t carry blokes in finals. Either he turns it around, or he is going to cost you, big time!

 

AND THE AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR GOES TO….?

It goes to Jarryd Lyons.

Think about the Brisbane Lions and what names pop into your head?

Lachie Neale… Harris Andrews… Charlie Cameron. What about Jarryd Lyons?

Playing second fiddle to a maestro like Neale is nothing to sneeze at, but there are times where the Lions require their second string midfielder to step up his game and run the show. Tonight was one of those nights.

I loved what I saw from Lyons in this game – his pressure, his ability to extract the footy and his willingness to get down and dirty to win contests for his team were second to none. He had eight intercepts, mostly across the middle as the Lions boxed the Pies into their own defensive half, and used his strength to stand in tackles and dish off to players in a better position.

With Lachie Neale basically assured of just about every major award in the caper, Lyons would be a worthy runner up to him in the Brisbane best and fairest award. He has come into this club with a bit of a cloud hanging over his head after leaving the Suns, but that has well and truly been put to rest now. He is one of the best at what he does, and the recognition should start coming his way.

 

IS NATHAN BUCKLEY BEING OUTCOACHED?

It has to be asked – there have been instances this season where the Pies have jumped teams and look like they’re going to run away with the game.

It happened in Round Two against Richmond and Round Eight against West Coast. It happened again tonight. Collingwood were the better side through the first quarter and ensured the game was on their terms. Whilst they did not hit the scoreboard heavily (or barely at all), the amount of play they had in the first ten or so minutes of the game was quite dominant. They built the wall across half forward and had multiple repeat entries, but managed just a solitary goal.

And once Chris Fagan was able to have a look at the Collingwood set-up and identify what Collingwood were doing, he was able to put the brakes on that really quickly.

So, what was Bucks’ response?

That would be the question many Collingwood fans are asking about now. The Pies came out swinging, but when the counterpunch was thrown, did Bucks just take it on the chin?

Great coaches make moves that are not always reactive. Bucks threw Darcy Moore into attack at the start of the last quarter and his desperation had an impact on a couple of ground ball plays, including one that resulted in a goal to Mason Cox, but was that it for his bag of tricks?

Without Treloar and Sidebottom, maybe the cupboard is a little bare for the Pies coach, but when Brisbane worked Collingwood out in the second quarter, you could argue that a good coach might have already made a move. Just when you think you have the answers, a good coach changes the questions.

 

WAS THAT THE CLANGER OF THE YEAR FROM BRODY MIHOCEK?

I’ve seen Malcolm Blight get confused between the goals and the points, Percy Jones kick the goal post and Jack Darling almost drop the Grand Final in 2018, but in terms of the 2020 season, has there been a bigger blunder than Mihocek’s howler in the goal square in the last quarter?

The Pies were looking for something to spark them and the long ball to the goal square from Mason Cox appeared just the ticket as Mihocek got out the back for an uncontested mark. Amazingly, the ball went straight through his hands and through for a point. Instead of the lead being reduced to 14 points, it sat at a comfortable 19, and it would remain enough for the Lions to hold on as the Pies came hard late.

It’s hardtop fathom how a bloke that marks so well in much tougher circumstances can blow it so badly, particularly when he clunked a very nice contested grab moments later, but he did and whilst there was nowhere near as much at stake as when Darling bobbled the ball inside 50, allowing the Pies a sniff in 2018, it was one of those moments that can cause a whole team to drop their heads.

 

IS THERE ANY WALLPAPERING HERE FOR THE LIONS?

They played one quarter of really good footy in this game and it proved to be enough. Yes, they were still hard at it for the majority of the game, but with five of their six-goal total coming in the second quarter, you have to wonder whether they are starting to feel the pinch a little this season – other teams look to be struggling as well.

Their inaccuracy hasn’t helped at all, but there were stretches in this game that saw them fail to get the footy forward for loooong stretches.

Brisbane did enough to win this one, and I really liked their pressure, but six goals, and three quarters that reaped a total of just one goal is enough to make me a little nervous, and I am not even a Brisbane fan.

They may be displaced in the top two by Geelong within 48 hours, and they play the miserly Suns on Wednesday in what should be one of the more interesting Q-Clashes in history. I reckon they need to drop the hammer on the Suns; 10-12 goals are required to shake the monkey off their back and make them believe in their offensive skills as much as they do their defensive skills.

 

HOW DO YOU COMPENSATE FOR THE LOSS OF HARRIS ANDREWS?

I’m not sure there is ever a good time to do a hamstring, but with three games to go and a bye, whilst sitting in second spot with upcoming games against the teams in 13th and 15th I suppose there could be a lot worse times.

Harris Andrews was prominent early in this game before retreating to the bench and icing up. As someone who strained his own hamstring today (kick at goal from 35 metres… how embarrassing), I reckon the Lions should give him every chance to be cherry ripe for the first final.

Don’t worry about the Round 18 game against the Blues – with a bit of luck they will have put the cue in the rack by then. His rehab should be slow and cautious, and his aim should be four weeks from now.

In the meantime, the Lions have this bloke in defence who, similarly to the role Lyons plays to Neale, has been the understudy of Andrews all year. And truth be told, there has been times when he has done a lot of the heavy lifting.

Darcy Gardiner has done some big jobs this season, but he is a no-frills , honest defender. He is more than capable of holding the fort against the Swans and the Suns, although I could see Harry McKay taking a few grabs on him.

The Lions have seen the emergence of Brandon Starcevich this season and the development of Noah Answerth has been pleasing as well. If worst comes to worst, switching McStay into defence may have the two-fold benefit of working him into form and providing a string body in the contests to help Gardiner/Lester/Birchall.

It is never easy to replace a champion, and with Andrews en route to go back-to-back as All-Australian full back, there may be occasions where the Lions look a little disjointed in the back half. However, they are cohesive enough to stem the flow, and with Zac Bailey and Mitch Robinson working hard back into defensive 50 from the wings, they should be able to cover it.

Of course, if it is just a slight strain… GET HIM BACK ASAP!

 

WTF IS JAIDYN STEPHENSON DOING?

Is this the same guy who looked like a million bucks in his rookie season? Because he is playing like his own wimpy brother at the moment.

Look, I don’t know whether he has a wimpy brother, but is he does, I would not be at all surprised if the brother beats the shit out of Jaidyn for the way he is playing.

I’ve long though that Stephenson and Jordan de Goey have a little brother/big brother kind of relationship on the footy field. It has always looked like they enjoy playing with each other and combine well out there. They look as though they are better with the other in the team.

But that is not an out for Stephenson. He played an absolute shocker tonight and should be whacked for it. At three quarter time he had zero influence on anything.

He had four handballs in the first half (no kicks) and followed that up with an insipid zero-touch third quarter before being moved up the ground to get a touch in the last.

He had a bout of glandular fever prior to this season, but with the break and months of footy in between, I am not sure that flies as a reason any longer (I had it at 19… no way my boss would have let me off the hook at work if I was performing as poorly in my role as Stephenson is).

He has been goalless in five of his 11 games this season. In contrast, he was goalless just twice in 2019. He has a couple of weeks to lift before

 

MAYNARD V ROBBO… NO RULES, LAST MAN STANDING… WHO YOU GOT?

I’d be getting Vince McMahon on the line, selling him this match as a legit war between two genuine tough blokes.

Loved seeing a bit of agro in the game and was hoping we’d see them run into each other a few times as the night went on. Neither bloke ever shirks the issue and how tough was Maynard coming back after that big corkie? He’s a tank!

 

SO, ARE THE LIONS GENUINE CONTENDERS?

Hell yeah, they are.

They had players not performing tonight and were still too good for this Collingwood team. Get some form from Charlie Cameron and a bit more quality footy for McCluggage and this team will rattle some cages.

 

AND THE PIES?

You have to wonder whether these injuries are just too much. Not the volume, but the quality. Howe was a massive loss, as was de Goey, whilst Adam Treloar is an absolute workhorse. Their best is still as good as anyone’s, but we’ve not seen anywhere near enough of it.

But, if Howe can de Goey join Treloar back in this team, and Sidebottom makes his way back in… they might be able to rally.

But… if… might… you hate to see those words used when describing your flag chances. The Pies have their work cut out for them.

 

And that’ll do me. How did you see the game? Got any big questions of your own? Hit up the comments below, or grab me on our socials.

 

Did you know we have memberships here at The Mongrel, right? We are small, we’re independent and we’ve knocked back cash from the gambling industry as I reckon I’d be a massive hypocrite if I complained about all the gambling ads on AFL coverage and then sold out to them. For 40-80c per day you get access to our wingman rankings, defensive rankings, weekly player rankings as well as members-only columns and early access to my Good, Bad and Ugly evening game reviews.

Plus you help us grow. Come on… click the image below and help an old mongrel out.

Want more of this kind of stuff? Join The Mongrel to get more.