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Ah Chee celebrates
Ah Chee Celebrates (Densham/AFANA)

A pleasant Friday evening welcomed the 62,162 crowd to the MCG for tonight's Second Semi Final.  Before the first bounce the official business for the night got underway. With all players, official and match day staff lined up on the ground, the Welcome To Country, a minute's silence was observed for Queen Elizabeth II following her death this morning and the lowering of the stadium lights, God Save the King was played. Delta Goodrem sung Advance Australia Fair accompanied by guitar in the minutes leading up to the start of the match. Just to top it off a little bit of ACDC's Thunderstruck rolled up to the bounce.

Big forward Joe Daniher was a late out today, for family reasons. His loss up forward would mean all the focus was on Hipwood and less options up forward for the Lions who had three goals kicked by the big man in the previous game. The Demons dominated early and led the Brisbane to the ball and in all the statistical categories. Ed Langdon, unguarded in the pocket, kicked the first goal of match after five and half minutes, from 35 meters out with the set shot. Melbourne had more early chances as they had the ball in their forward half for most of the first quarter. The usual suspects in the middle for Melbourne led the way with Oliver and Petracca up and about early.

Brisbane's first score was with a behind after twelve minutes, to McCluggage. The Demons immediately worked the ball end to end with Neal-Bullen marking in the pocket and kicking the Demon's second goal.  Melbourne yet again pulled Brisbane's defense apart with a long bomb to the square with the mark taken by Melksham as he charged the pack, went back to successfully kick the third goal of the night for his team. More minor scores came for the Demons, through Langdon and Harmes, and a rushed behind.  

Brisbane almost added to the goal column when the ball came off the shin of McStay appeared to be going for a goal, but on review it was shown that not all the ball was over the line when touched by the Melbourne defender. They came again and this time Starcevich sent a long wobbly kick inside 50 and Rivers in defense dropped it, Rayner swooped but Rivers tackled him without the ball resulting in a free kick. Despite the perseverance they still could not notch up a goal as Rayner's set shot drifted wide. 

Sparrow tackles Zorko
Zorko tackled (Densham/AFANA)

Finally they put a major on the board when Zorko, on the run, kicked long inside 50 and found Cameron one out against Hibberd, and with the best position flew and took the grab. He kicked the goal from straight in front 25 meters out. The Lion's first goal after half an hour of play, leaving them 15 points down at quarter time.

The second quarter saw the Demons continue to dominate, but were a little wasteful, their first forward 50 entry could not be gathered and they started with a rushed behind, and the next opportunity saw Pickett kick the ball out of bounds on the full. Pickett made amends shortly after however. When surrounded by Lions defenders, he gathered the ball, spun around, and assisted a little by the tackle somehow got the ball on the boot towards the goal, it might have been a point, but it's path auto-corrected to bounce between the big posts.  

For the first time in the match we saw Brisbane look dangerous and challenge the notion in most minds that this was Melbourne's game.  McStay hit Hipwood on the lead in the pocket, and he kicked the goal from 49 meters and easily made the distance. A minute later he almost added another as he had the ball inside the center square and tried to hit his teammates running towards goal. The ball carried over the top of them though and almost bounced back for a goal, but ultimately goes through for a behind.

It was now starting to look like a more even contest. Brisbane were holding on and that was largely due to the work of Zorko giving them bounce and drive off half back, as the Melbourne pushes forward became a little less efficient. Kicks were starting to hit the Brisbane defenders with clean passes as they more often had to dispose of the ball under pressure. Melbourne eventually broke this though, with Fritsch kicking his first goal for the night after a quiet start for him, marking at the top of the goal square at the back of the pack. Late in the quarter it looked like Melbourne would have a solid lead when Pickett roved a spoiled mark in the pocket and once again dribbled the ball across the goal line. 

That 28 point lead was once again pulled back by the Lions when Zorko stormed through the middle at the center bounce and kicked the ball long to the goal square. Ah Chee gathered and goaled. It did not seem like there was time for that play to happen, but it was important for the Lions to feel like all was not lost as they reduced the halftime margin back to 22 points. It's fair to say that Melbourne dominated the first half and as reigning Premiers, could reasonably expect to win from here.  They would have expected the Lions to come hard in one final push to keep their season alive though.  

Eric Hipwood
Hipwood kicks (Densham/AFANA)

The Lions did just that, immediately getting the ball forward and it was only the efforts of Petty with a brilliant tackle on Hipwood saving the first scoreboard damage by the Lions. Hipwood could not be denied shortly after, when the ball came back inside the 50 from the rebounded kick in; Hipwood protected the space and marked 20m out, his low flat kick for goal brings Brisbane's fourth major score.   

Charlie Cameron, often the barometer for Brisbane's fortunes, kicked his second goal and the Lion's third goal in a row, snapping around the body over top of the Melbourne defender from 30 meters out and the ball tracked truly.  His trademark motorbike revving celebration delighting his team's fans. McStay hits Hipwood with a laser like kick on the lead and he again goaled from 48 meters out bringing the deficit back to 5 points. The Demons had not stopped but behinds to Sparrow, Viney, and Harmes did not help their cause.  

The Lion's tackling pressure had definitely lifted a notch, and the move of Berry onto Clayton Oliver was at the center of that. They wrestled in the center of the ground as the Demon's frustration grew at Berry's close checking. The dividends were being paid out for the Lions as McCluggage on the end of a defensive chain of possession, ran forward through the center square. With no teammates ahead of him, just the defender May, and with Salem chasing him hard, he took a bounce and pushed to the top of the 50 to let his kick fly over May's head for the Lion's 5th unanswered goal in a row. The comeback was nearly complete.

When Coleman hit Cameron deep in pocket,90 seconds later from 50 meter arc,, his kick pulled to the left for a behind to level scores and Brisbane coach Chris Fagan would have breathed a sigh of relief at finally having reigned in the Demons. But Melbourne fans would have been horrified seeing their team run down, and their huge roar, when Fritsch got on the end of Luke Jackson's kick and made no mistake with the shot at goal from 45 meters out, was as much relief as celebration. Their concern would have eased a little more when Neal-Bullen looked to have closed out the quarter with a goal to push the Demons lead back out to two goals just past the thirty minute mark.

The Lions would add two more quick ones themselves, first through a rewarded tackle to Darcy Fort and in the dying seconds to Hipwood, showing that Brisbane really were here to win and that maybe Melbourne were spent. Scores level at three quarter time. In boxing terms, you couldn't say the champ was on the canvas, but you might ask if they've done enough to win on points at the bell.

Again it was the Lions looking the harder team at the ball early in the last quarter. They were rewarded when McStay was interfered with as a quick kick went inside their 50. He was on the wrong side for a left footer but still went with the drop punt and calmly kicked it between the big sticks. One rushed and one missed shot by Berry saw them push the lead out to eight points at the five minute mark. Angus Brayshaw on the forward flank gave his team some renewed hope when he gathered the ball near the boundary and ran to 50 under pressure, and drilled the ball home to bring margin back to two points.  

AFL Fremantle v Brisbane, 2018 Optus Stadium.
Hipwood Marks (Densham/AFANA)

For the next five minutes both teams held firm with only a behind to McCarthy as his shot went wide, then Bailey took a juggling mark behind two Melbourne defenders in the pocket, just 25 meters out, his goal gave the Lions a 9 point lead. Both teams applied huge pressure around the contests. Wilmot's big tackle on Spargo may have saved the game for his team. Rich rose up with a big punch to take the ball away from Viney in pocket, and Petracca's shot at goal went high and to the right for a behind. Zorko continued to give his team drive, and he was roundly booed all night by Demons fans, but to little effect.

This mid-quarter deadlock was finally broken by the Lions though, when Hipwood on the run through the center square, bounced and kicked long toward goal, the ball drifted right and Cameron at full stretch marked just inside the boundary line. From the tightest of angles near the behind post, he played on to improve the angle and snapped his banana kick around the body to put the Lions 14 points up with about ten minutes left on the clock.  

Three minutes later a long kick inside 50 from McCarthy, spilled over the top and Bailey ran onto it at full pace, he booted the ball high and hard on the goal line and put enough doubt about the path of the ball to cause a review. The umpire's call stood as a goal for the Lions. With Melbourne needing four goals in five minutes, the game looked over.

But not so fast. A long kick to Melbourne's goal square was roved by Pickett and his rushed kick that seemed surely a goal hit the bottom of the post. This was followed by goals to Petty and Langdon reducing the margin to just 7 points and enough time on the clock for the Demons if they were good enough.   

Rayner tackles Pickett
Rayner tackles Pickett (Densham/AFANA)

But the matter was finally settled, when the ball went to the Brisbane forward pocket, Jake Lever in defense gathered the ball, and a desperate tackle from McStay was rewarded as Lever put the ball on the ground. It was ruled an incorrect disposal. Lever tried to argue his case, but the officiating umpire took this as dissent and awarded a 50 meter penalty to McStay to see him kick the final goal from point blank range and take his team to next week's Preliminary final against Geelong.  

Brisbane, profound underdogs ran out winners by 13 points. While Melbourne may have dominated the first half, and were able to score from stoppages, it was the relentless push forward in the second half throwing caution to the wind that saw them kicking goals from both general play and from hit up marks on the lead. Melbourne have been poor finishers all year and Brisbane took advantage of that tonight, lifted their intensity to another level and were able with a little luck to put a winning score on the board. Jarrod Berry played a top notch game when moved onto the ball in the second half, seriously curtailing Clayton Oliver, and hopefully he is not suspended for an eye gouge incident that he is likely to be cited for.  

MELBOURNE: 3.6 6.8 8.11 11.13 (79)
BRISBANE:  1.3 3.4 9.5  14.8  (92)

GOALS
Melbourne: Pickett 2, Fritsch 2, Neal-Bullen 2, Langdon 2, Melksham, Brayshaw, Petty
Brisbane:  Hipwood 4, Cameron 3, Bailey 2, McStay 2, Ah Chee, McCluggage, Fort

BEST
Melbourne: Harmes, Petracca, Petty, Langdon, Oliver, Neal-Bullen
Brisbane:  Hipwood, Neale, McCluggage, Rich, Berry, Coleman, Zorko, Cameron

INJURIES
Melbourne: Nil
Brisbane:  Nil

SUBSTITUTES
Melbourne: Joel Smith (unused)
Brisbane:  Rhys Mathieson (unused)

Crowd: 62,162

Article last changed on Friday, September 09, 2022 - 9:47 PM EDT


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