Rick Browner reporting from AFANA from Subiaco Oval
Brisbane traveled west having lost their last thirteen out of fourteen games, including their last eight in a row. The Eagle had not fared much better with one win from ten. Not much is anticipated in terms of a football spectacle when the bottom two teams play and whilst this game had its moments, it largely lived up to expectations.
Matt Priddis opened the goal scoring for the Eagles in the first minute and soon after Quinten Lynch added another from a booming kick from 52 meters. Brisbane squandered their chances in front of goal with terrible kicking, one out on the full from 20 meters and another behind from a similar distance. They had no linkage from the half back to the half forward line, and they were always a kick away from getting the ball into their forward 50 meter targets. Added to this, there were very ordinary skills on display from both teams. At times it was like watching the amateur leagues, with turnovers at every second disposal. It highlighted how disparate the top and the bottom teams are, and how far they have to improve to have some sort of a chance to be competitive in modern day football finals. Jonathan Brown kicked Brisbane’s only goal for the quarter to have them trailing by five points as the siren sounded.
Brown’s second goal saw the Lions hit the front early in the second quarter, but Mark LeCras dribbled a signature goal off the pack minutes later for the quick reply. Brisbane’s midfielders were winning possession and Brown was finding himself in space. His offsider Jarred Brennan was contributing in the forward line and kicked a goal to increase the lead. The game was being played at Brisbane’s end of the ground with eight to two entries inside the 50 meter arc for the quarter. When Brown got a free kick for holding and a subsequent goal, it was starting to turn ugly for the Eagles. At this stage of the game the Lions were kicking at 77% kicking efficiency to West Coast's 27% and had the ball on a string. The Eagles had no spirit, no endeavor and were looking stale compared to their opposition. A goal apiece saw the Lions lead by three goals at the end of the first half.
Brisbane were all over the Eagles with the tackle count 43 to 23, and this made it hard for the home team to clear the ball with any precision. The Eagles, to their credit, took off in the third quarter and were up and at Brisbane all over the ground. They kicked the first three goals and the game was up for grabs. Pierce Henley kicked his first goal in AFL football for Brisbane to retain the lead. Ash McGrath, who had contained LeCras for most of the night, didn’t go with him to make the spoil when needed and the brilliant Eagle's subsequent mark and goal put the home side right back in the game. They were seven points behind as the third quarter ended.
West Coast had most of the play in their own forward half in the final quarter but struggled to score. They had their chances when Josh Kennedy missed two shots from distances at which he normally converts. Andrew Strijk snapped truly from good ball movement down the field and the Eagles hit the front with minutes to go. Jonathan Brown, who had been hobbling about on one leg after a collision, took a controversial mark with seconds to go and kicked a goal to give the Lions the lead. It was enough and Brisbane ran out winners by less than a kick.
With only three games remaining the Eagles are certainties to finish on the bottom of the table. They threw everything into the game, as this year there is no incentive to “tank” to finish last with the top draft picks already allocated to the expansion teams. Brisbane are lucky not to be vying for the same honor but will finish a couple of games clear in the bottom two or three. It is a sad ending for two teams that have won five premierships between them.
West Coast: 2.2 4.5 8.6 9.11 (65)
Brisbane: 1.3 7.5 9.7 10.10 (70)
West Coast: B Jones, A Strijk Q Lynch, S Selwood, A Embley
Brisbane: J Brown, S Rischitelli, S Black, A McGrath, J Brennan
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