The ratings are in – The Slugger and Matt Parnell run you through every player on the park in the big Brisbane win.
 Brandon Starcevich – 7
Had a great start to the game. Multiple intercepts and playing his role to keep the Lions competitive while the midfield waited for a dramatic entrance. Really helped to restrict the Carlton small forwards.
 Harris Andrews – 8
Great start. Playing his game. Intercepting and impacting the contest. Kept the Lions competitive early. Seriously, the Lions would not have won this game without Andrews’ defensive efforts. He did give away some costly free kicks, which knocked him out of the perfect game territory, but he was still impeccable.
 Darcy Gardiner – 8
Had an auspicious start when the Blues were hot, but found his composure and rhythm. For a guy coming into his first game in a long time after playing reserves behind Jack Payne, he ended up being very good. Yes, he started shaky, but who wouldn’t when your defence is getting hammered. Once his teammates decided to turn up and support, he looked much better. Robbed of a goal by McCarthy as well.
 Conor McKenna – 8
Great running. Very crucial 2nd quarter goal to swing momentum. Very balanced game from McKenna as he did it all for the Lions. Was at his best in the second and third quarters when the game Lions were at their peak. Not a coincidence.
 Ryan Lester – 7
Kicked his first goal of the season. Solid defensive effort. The stalwart defender did his usual thing and impacted this game without impacting the stats sheet too much.
 Darcy Wilmot – 7
Not Wilmot’s best game. A couple out-on-the-full’s and some shaky moments. He still had some great run and spread and worked very hard, but things just didn’t quite happen for him for most of the night. Had a few handy defensive moments to tip the scales above average.
 Hugh McCluggage – 6
copped a harsh deliberate out-of-bounds in the first quarter. Turned up in the second quarter and provided a key cog to the Lions changing the momentum in the midfield. A quieter game for McCluggage overall and his kicking for goal was just awful.
 Josh Dunkley – 10
One of the few Lions to play a full four quarters. I have said it every time I have covered Brisbane in 2023 and to quote Tommy Lee Jones from Lincoln “And so again sir, and again and again and again I say” Brisbane recruited Dunkley for exactly this bloody match and this bloody role! Forget anything he did in the home and away season. His performance in the Qualifying Final and now this. Just one more game like this from Dunkley and he will have earned every red penny of his contract and the king’s ransom the Lions paid for him. Neale is the badge on the front of the Car, Dunkley is the engine under the hood.
 Dayne Zorko – 7
The veteran had another interesting final. Involved in some good play through the middle when the game turned. Was everywhere early. However, was rather wasteful when the pressure was on. The experience really does him service though, as he knows what he can get away with and can sense when to take the ball and when to tap it on. Enjoys the chance to line someone up fairly as well.
 Charlie Cameron – 7
Lively and energetic. Took some chances and missed others. Another enigmatic performance from the Lions star forward.
 Eric Hipwood – 7
Very solid. Kick started the Lions resurgence. A lot of people doubted his ability to form an effective partnership with Joe Daniher. That partnership has now taken them further than any other for 20 years.
 Zac Bailey – 7
Solid. Won himself plenty of the ball and did some great work in the contest. Important fast hands. Needs to work on his kicking. Gave away 50 that should’ve been doubled through his stupidity.
 Cam Rayner – 5
So close to tearing this game apart. A couple dropped marks away from lighting it up. But the important thing was that he flew and gave a contest. Then he was more effective on the ground. The physical presence, *Chefs kiss*. Bring that next week!
 Joe Daniher – 7
Was solid enough up forward without being great. Again, just gave great contests. Thought he was very good when thrown into the ruck as well.
 Callum Ah Chee – 5
Did have some good moments, but just couldn’t get into the game enough. Like Rayner is an explosive and dynamic player, but just not his night. Subbed off in the last.
 Oscar McInerney – 9
Forget the other ruck. McInerney was huge. Helped stem the flow of the game with two goals when the Blues were running rampant. Astonishing that he only had two marks for the game, when it felt like he was in control of a lot of aerial contests. Looked like he was in control of most ruck contests as well.
 Lachie Neale – 9
Slow start but got going after quarter time. Forms the best 1-2 combination in the game with Dunkley. And together they led the Lions midfield out of the doldrums of the first quarter and into a Grand Final.
 Jarrod Berry – 8
Good start. One of the few Lions to start well. Ran too far with his first possession, but everyone has those moments. I thought he only played good finals against Melbourne, but Berry decided to change it up and deliver against a new opponent. Was the second Lions midfielder to turn up to the game, after Dunkley.
 Deven Robertson – 4
Okay, but not great. Like a lot of Lions in this game, he had trouble finding his way. Wouldn’t want to say he was overawed, but he definitely struggled.
 Lincoln McCarthy – 9
Absolutely picture perfect from McCarthy. Denied a ten due to some “me time” as a demand from the Mongrel team. McCarthy stood out like a sore thumb during the second quarter. when so many players were fumbling under immense pressure McCarthy burst through multiple packs and cleanly took the ball every time. His defensive efforts were great as well. He hounded the Blues defence and midfield and generated multiple turnovers which helped flip the scoreline to the Lions favour.
 Keidean Coleman – 10
Just wow. First Idun last night and now Coleman tonight. This preliminary final weekend has had two relatively lesser known players stamp their claims to being considered in the elite category of their position. And they did it on the biggest stage. Coleman was the perfect combination of sword and shield. He was rock solid in defensive contests and was the driving force in attack. Coleman was the only player looking dangerous coming out of the Lions defence and also willing to take the dangerous kick into the middle to open up the ground, and he just seemed to never miss his target.
 Jaspa Fletcher – 6
So many of these Lions players are hard to place. Fletcher is another. Played his role. A very different experience to his first final. If he can land somewhere in the middle next week, the Lions will be very happy.
[Sub – 17] Jarryd Lyons – 2
Came on too late for any sort of real impact. Only 6% game time. A solitary disposal. Only injury suspension, or a harsh call on form likely allow him to break into the starting team. Would be stiff to be dropped however after getting so little opportunity.
Carlton (Matt Parnell)
 Jacob Weitering – 7
Defensive triple double for Weitering but, with the exception of a busy fourth quarter, was probably the fourth or fifth most noticeable Carlton defender. Numbers indicate a good game, eye test indicates it might not have been, the reality is somewhere in between the two. Marshals this defence well with McGovern, especially considering so much of the defence is modular and everywhere else.
 Caleb Marchbank – 6
Played bigger than he is and got in the contest all night. The run with role on any of Brisbane’s key forwards is always gonna be rough and it felt like a game where he didn’t do anything poorly while also not really doing anything particularly well, either – 8 marks, 16 kicks, sure. Didn’t lay a (recorded) tackle. Clearly contains multitudes.
 Adam Saad – 5
Provided a lot of defensive pressure as the player relied upon as the coolest (and last) head, but recovery pace and a big kick can only get you so far. 12 disposals, 367m gained, 8 kicks – probably averaging 40m a kick. The numbers are only useful in as much as they paint a picture of someone who whacked it long a lot, mostly from kick ins and mostly ineffectively.
 Mitch McGovern – 7
Only five marks on a night that felt like he could’ve had heaps more. In heaps of contests, playing a largely unsexy role, used a booming kick to good effect a few times. Five marks is almost as many as McCarthy and Daniher managed combined, though, so not a big day for a successful marking contest- largely attributable to Weitering and McGovern
 Jordan Boyd – 6
Probably the biggest leap in terms of performance relative to expectation of anyone in either game this weekend. Had one moment where he let the moment get the better of him when he tried to bang one in from 55 rather than choosing an option, but when you’re playing your 16th game ever… it’s more forgivable than most. Still not heaps forgivable given the game was still winnable, but that was his moment that sticks out for mine
 Nic Newman – 7
Looked a cool head out there. Played a disciplined game between the lines that felt like it went largely unrewarded, but that’s what happens when you’re in the role he’s in. Good interplay with his wingers and flankers in a largely positionless defence that asks a lot of him to be consistent.
 Blake Acres – 6
Looked great in the first quarter and tried throughout, but the game caught up to him. Was a huge part of the early push when the game was played exclusively on his flank, with half of his disposals coming in the first, but didn’t see as much of it after. Did affect his third touched behind of the finals series, though, which feels like something.
 Patrick Cripps – 3
Won’t be happy about that. When you’re the reigning Brownlow medalist, team captain, face of the club – you can’t be having 13 touches in a knockout game. A goal from a free kick and a goal in what was functionally garbage time raised the optics, but in a game that felt like it was crying out for a player like Patrick Cripps, it would’ve been nice to see the real Patrick Cripps.
 Oliver Hollands – 5
Much like Acres on the opposite flank, looked good when the team looked good. As the game went on and his defensive responsibilities ramped up, he looked increasingly young and overmatched when he didn’t have a more experienced head around him. Showed flashes of why he was picked, but also showed deficiencies.
 Lachie Fogarty – 5
Another who looked good early. Can’t take that away from him. Unfortunately, he’s the bloke who got spun for McKenna’s GAA-style tap and it feels like that’s gonna be his biggest presence on his game’s highlight reel. Only the seven touches, subbed in the fourth.
 Sam Docherty – 6
Regardless of how he played today, it’s a huge effort to be out here after dislocating his shoulder last week. Played that roaming half forward to half back role that he’s become accustomed to this season, which creates confusion as to who’s responsible for him and he’s great at taking advantage of that. Downside is that it cuts both ways, and he was largely Kiddy Coleman’s direct opponent while he had the game of his life.
 Matthew Cottrell – 5
Overmatched if not overawed. Felt like they were asking a lot of someone who’s never exactly been a first option. Came into the midfield a bit when they were being overrun, but he kinda just went into the fold of players being overrun. Still managed a goal and a behind, laid a couple of tackles, absolutely did his job and then some… but not a difference maker
 Jack Martin – 4
I feel like this just has to be Jack Martin’s level at this point. Good forward pressure without being outstanding – not helped that he wasn’t particularly backed up by Motlop – and a presence that doesn’t necessarily reap rewards. 3 of his four kicks being scoring shots tells you he wasn’t getting involved in chance creation. Had moments! But only moments.
 Charlie Curnow – 3
Even on his worst day, you’re supposed to get more impact from Charlie Curnow. He’s been a reliable couple goals, set shots, physical presence consistently for two seasons now, which has given him back to back Colemans, but only one goal in each of his last three games is gonna cause some overreactions about his ability in big games.
 Harry McKay – 5
He’s a trier but he’s also fundamentally limited. 2 goals 2 behinds, one inexplicable kick into the post, 60% of his kicks coming directly from marks – this is the quintessential Harry McKay game. He played at his level.
 Marc Pittonet – 3
Shades of shorter, less dominant Aaron Sandilands. If he wasn’t winning the ruck contests (and he wasn’t), wasn’t offering much else. Given how much faith the club showed in him by giving him an extra four years, a poor showing in his most important game as a Blue. Took one mark! Got absolutely whipped by Charlie Cameron, a man he should never be trying to face up one on one.
 George Hewett – 4
Had one real moment late in the first where it felt like his reason for being really clicked. Got a tough ball from a centre clearance and bombed it in for Curnow and it felt like that’s the Hewett Carlton thought they were getting. As the game went on, Carlton needed someone to be that strong body and stop the Lions run, and Hewett was nowhere to be found.
 Sam Walsh – 7.5
Definitely pops out of the box score most, but more importantly he was just everywhere all of the time. The only engine room player with a real four quarter effort, ran all day, but didn’t have anyone to play with when the going got tough and he can’t do it all on his own. Yet. Most touches, most inside 50s, equal highest tackles.
 Jesse Motlop – 3
There was a point in the fourth quarter where I realised he was in the game. Can probably cut the review short there. Didn’t create pressure, didn’t get touches, didn’t score.
 Adam Cerra – 5
I’m not sure I’ve ever got Adam Cerra. That’s not to say I don’t understand why they got him, but I don’t think I’ve ever valued him the way Carlton do. It felt like there was a potential vacuum for this to be the Adam Cerra game, but 10 contested possessions, 12 handballs, one behind, and a lot of link play meant it didn’t really feel like it.
 Tom De Koning – 5
Felt like a risk for Vossy to have Docherty and De Koning in alternating dual swingmen roles, but it looked great when it worked. Just didn’t work very often. 8 possessions, 16 hit outs, a versatile all round game that felt promising without ever delivering.
 Alex Cincotta – 2
Not good. Name didn’t get called often, didn’t feel like he was in the right place much, didn’t seem to do much with it when he had it. The defensive scheme, when it works, seems to need everyone to switch accurately and independently and it felt like Cincotta was the weak link in the chain.
[Sub – 7] Matthew Kennedy – 5
Asking a lot of anyone to come on in the fourth with the game state what it was. Didn’t do much, couldn’t really do much if we’re being honest, and the rating reflects it.