The Brisbane Lions triumphed in a tight and enthralling game against the Fremantle Dockers, where the lead changed hands ten times. The Lions were fighting for a shot at the top two position after losing two of their past three matches. The win keeps them in the frame for two valuable home finals. The Dockers had the slimmest of mathematical chances of making the top eight and played with confidence after their victory in Geelong last week. It was a game where both teams played a similar game style: pressure around the ball and either careful buildups in attack, or quick transferences from defence to attack. The difference was Brisbane had an edge in the air, taking more marks (catches) than the Dockers, and the Dockers used handball and pace to run the ball into attack.
The Dockers started with a goal within two minutes to Lachie Shultz. They had the advantage in early clearances and won more contested possessions for the quarter. Their midfielders Caleb Serong, Andrew Brayshaw, and defender Hayden Young spread well and ran harder than their opponents Lachie Neale, Josh Dunkley, and Zac Bailey. The Dockers racked up uncontested possessions and drive the home team forward. However, the first quarter was a game of defenses with the tackling a highlight and Alex Pearce and Brennan Cox steady in the air for the Dockers and Brandon Starcevich and Harris Andrews flying high for Brisbane. The only variation to the theme was when Josh Treacy took a strong mark against Starcevich to boot the Dockers second goal.
Brisbane booted their second goal three minutes into the second quarter, after a quick transition from defense via Lincoln McCarthy, Callum Ah Chee and Hugh McCluggage finished with a mark to Jack Gunston. The visitors improved their stoppage clearances and won more contested possessions, as they ramped up pressure on the Docker ball carriers. Jarrod Berry and Dayne Zorko were busy in the middle for the Lions. Both teams utilized slow build ups to attack, until Hipwood booted long from to the center to Joe Daniher who marked close to goals and kicked straight and true. Luke Jackson outpointed Darcy Fort in the ruck and was more mobile around the ground taking marks and winning clearances for the Dockers. The Dockers then hit a purple patch [ed. note: run of good form, see our Footy Words You Need to Know] booting three goals in five minutes to break free before the main break. Jackson and Michael Frederick were influential in two of those goals.
The Dockers started the third quarter purposefully, using pace and handballs to dissect the Lions' midfield. A quick transition from defense via Wagner to Sturt brought up a goal after five minutes of play. Cameron Ah Chee increased his work rate for Brisbane on the wing. At the nine-minute mark he ran forward to take a a high mark close to goals and convert, to keep the Lions in the game. The Dockers intensity lifted, and they won more ground balls. However, McCluggage booted a Brisbane goal after he stood wide of a marking contest to receive a handball from Gunston. The Lions continued to attack but were denied by Jordan Clark who completed two good spoils for the Dockers. The visitors regained the lead when Jarrod Berry kicked truly from fifty meters, after a quick transition from defense. The Dockers responded immediately by winning a center clearance and kicking to Josh Corbett who marked on the "behinds" line (the line between a goal post and a point post) and converted from close range. Two minutes later the Lions transferred from defense to see Cameron mark and put the visitors back in front. The Dockers' response was to win the next center clearance where their small players Sam Switkowski, Serong, and Brayshaw worked the ball to Schultz, who kicked accurately on the run from forty meters to regain the lead. Undeterred, the Lions pushed forward from defense again. With twenty seconds left on the clock Clark infringed on Cameron who converted his free kick from close range to give the Lions a one point lead. With seconds to play Jackson won the next center clearance and then kicked long from sixty meters to score a behind for one point and level the scores at the final break.
It was Jackson again, five minutes into the final stanza. He won a tap at a stoppage, then gathered a ground ball to handpass to Liam Henry, who kicked long to Jye Amiss who used strength to mark with one hand, on the goal line. Amiss converted to give the Dockers a five-point lead. Lachie Neale, who had been relatively quiet, lifted his work rate and found more of the ball for Brisbane. He also won two clearances to inspire the Lions. At the eleven-minute mark, Pearce failed to hold a long Brisbane kick into attack and Joe Daniher kicked the ball soccer style off the ground to put the Lions a point in front. A desperate arm wrestle was broken six minutes later when Gunston pushed off Luke Ryan, to mark and kick a goal put the Lions eight points up. Caleb Serong willed the Dockers back into the game with his work in packs. With five minutes to play, Sturt marked on the boundary and goaled for the Dockers from forty metres. Then Brisbane pushed forward and pressured the Docker defense into a turnover. Eric Hipwood marked a centering kick and goaled from twenty-five metres. But the Dockers weren't done yet. With a minute to go Switkowski cleverly spun in a pack and handballed to Frederick who booted a sublime check-side kick, to goal from the right forward pocket. A last-gasp transition from defense by the Dockers was cut short by the siren. It sounded as Hayden Young kicked long to Frederick who was free up forward. The Lions had survived in a game that could have gone either way.
Next week the Lions return to their fortress, the Gabba in Queensland, to meet the Adelaide Crows. Fremantle remain at Optus Stadium for an "away" match against the revitalized West Coast Eagles, where the only thing on the line will be local bragging rights in a year when there hasn't been much good news for the teams on the western edge of Australia.
Scores Fremantle Dockers: 2.2 5.4 8.8 11.8 (74) Brisbane Lions: 1.4 3.5 8.8 11.11 (77) Best Fremantle Dockers: Jackson, Serong, Young, Brayshaw, Henry Brisbane Lions: Neale, McCarthy, Rayner, Cameron, Zorko
Article last changed on Wednesday, August 09, 2023 - 3:42 AM EDT