Six consecutive goals and a brilliant double act by Lachie Neale and Mitch Robinson were the catalysts for a 49 point Brisbane win in the 17th Q Clash between the Gold Coast Suns and the Brisbane Lions.
The first half had been an evenly poised and well contested game with the Lions holding a slender six point lead at the main break. When Alex Sexton kicked his 2nd goal off the back of a Luke Hodge turnover at the seven minute mark of the 3rd quarter, levelling the scores, few could have predicted the scoring onslaught that immediately followed.
A dominant Lachie Neale had time to spot up Charlie Cameron after some good work from Stef Martin and Eric Hipwood and at the next centre stoppage Neale expertly spun out of traffic to set up Jarryd Lyons. Seconds later Robinson kicked a long goal (his 2nd) after Hodge had ironed out George Horlin-Smith. Supposedly teammates had mocked Hodge, stating he had watched the Easter Monday game in his Hawks guernsey and nailing the former Cat would've been a satisfying moment for the Lions veteran.
Two more goals to the men of the moment, Robinson and Neale, saw the margin out to 30 points and when Charlie Cameron kicked his 2nd goal four minutes into the final term the result was beyond doubt.
Earlier, the contest had ebbed and flowed after Brisbane burst out of the blocks with the opening two goals to Hipwood and ex-Sun Jarryd Lyons. Their early dominance around the footy translated to six of the first seven clearances and it took the home side close to eight minutes to work the ball inside 50 for the first time. That moment seemed to precipitate their awakening, and by the end of the quarter the Suns had established a three point lead thanks to majors from Darcy MacPherson, Peter Wright and Jack Lukosius.
Ben Ainsworth was winning and distributing the footy with ease as the Lions continually conceded space through the centre corridor, Jarrod Harbrow (opposed to Cameron) and Jack Martin linking up nicely on multiple occasions.
Cam Rayner and Suns debutant Josh Corbett traded multiple goals to start the 2nd quarter, Rayner's first coming after Jesse Joyce dwelled too long in possession and Corbett's maiden AFL goal courtesy of a sizzling Ainsworth pass. A 50 metre penalty after Robinson failed to give the ball back to Touk Miller set up Corbett's second major but from then on, Brisbane had the majority of the play.
Lewis Taylor was providing his trademark run and carry and Mitch Robinson was bashing and crashing as if his life depended on it. Cameron was playing a disciplined role keeping Harbrow honest while midfielders McLuggage and Neale were winning plenty of ball. Three goals to Rayner (his 2nd), Alex Witherden and Robinson had the Lions up by 12 points in the shadows of half time before a superb snap from Alex Sexton on the siren trimmed the margin to a solitary goal.
Zorko v Miller
The much hyped battle never really eventuated. They renewed hostilities at the opening bounce but when Zorko pushed deep forward Miller elected to shadow Neale.
Hipwood v Hombsch
This was an intriguing one, Hipwood ending up with only 1 goal from 10 disposals suggests a pretty poor game. However, the Lions' talisman got to plenty of contests, often when outnumbered and his clean hands set up more than one goal for his team. Hombsch played him pretty tightly and limited his influence as best he could but butchered to footy a couple of times. I'll call it a draw
Sexton v Hodge
Sexton has (in my opinion) been the best mid sized foward in the league in 2019 and should've been able to exploit the ageing champ's questionable mobility and glacial straight line speed. But Hodge's wily positioning, coupled with Sexton's inability to get on his bike and work the veteran over aerobically sees the points go to Hodge.
The former Hawk didn't spend as much time on Sexton after the main break but when the game was in the balance Hodge was his master.
Stefan Martin v Jarrod Witts
This was an intriguing contest between two ruckman that I rate highly. When the Suns reeled in a 15 point deficit early it was off the back of Witts, hitting Fiorini and Miller who could then use the likes of Martin and Ainsworth on the outside. But from late in the second term through to the final siren Martin was far more influential, besting Witts around the ground and gathering possessions that led to goals. He set up the first of the six consecutive goals by grabbing the ball out of the ruck, and set up the fifth by cheekily giving the ball back to Neale to slot through from 50 after marking the latter's lace out pass.
Cameron v Harbrow
This was a great contest with Harbrow's speed and dare giving the Lions plenty of headaches early. As the game wore on Cameron was able to repeatedly drag Harbrow away from his defensive 50 and win meaningful ball, and in the second half was well on top, setting up goals with pressure acts and jagging a couple himself.
The Three Best
What an acquisition this guy has been. Had 13 average (by his standards) touches in the first half but went berserk after half time, winning the footy at the coal face and extricating himself from pressure. The sight of him wheeling around to his right foot and hitting Martin inside 50 before finishing the play from the 50 logo was the metaphorical nail in Gold Coast's coffin.
28 disposals @82%, 5 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 6 tackles.
I love watching this madman. He makes all his teammates walk taller with his bravery and appetite for the contest but added a bit of polish to his game today with three goals.
26 disposals @65%, 8 marks, 5 tackles, 9 score involvements.
Was clearly the best player on the ground at half time. His possessions waned as the Lions gained ascendency in the second half but he continued to try his guts out. On a day when many skilled players were struggling to find teammates Ainsworth was a class above.
21 disposals @80%, 6 inside 50s, 4 score involvements.
The Two Worst
It was a Murdoch on the dance floor. Not one of Jordan's best games (or my best puns) that's for sure.
Lincoln McCarthy's 2 junk time snags don't save him from joining his former teammate down here.
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