BRISBANE LIONS 5.5 7.8 10.10 14.14 (98)
CARLTON 1.1 7.4 11.9 13.13 (91)
Goals: Brisbane Lions: J Brown 3 D Merrett 2 D Zorko 2 J Green 2 C Beams J Paine J Redden M Paparone Z O’Brien. Carlton: J Garlett 3 L Henderson 3 A Everitt D Ellard J Waite M Murphy S Docherty T Menzel Z Tuohy.
BEST Brisbane Lions: Zorko, Redden, Patfull, Rockliff, Paparone, Brown. Carlton: Murphy, Simpson, Henderson, Warnock, Docherty.
Umpires: Chris Kamolins, Brett Rosebury, David Harris.
Perhaps it was inevitable that it would end in a certain amount of controversy. Two youthful sides – one with its season on the line, the other’s finished almost before it had begun – and neither seemed to have the confidence or the competence to finish the game off.
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Brisbane Lions defeat Blues
Brisbane notched their only their second win of the 2014 season, with a seven-point victory over Carlton on Saturday.
Carlton’s Chris Yarran had ghosted over the pack from the side, and looked to have had enough of the ball to be awarded the mark. But it spilt on the way, Josh Green pounced, and with a few minutes to play, the last-placed Lions were nine points to the good, and as good as home.
It was hard to guess why the umpires were booed from the field: two minutes earlier, Jarrad Waite, who’d endured a shocking game, unwisely pushed over Tom Rockliff in full view of the umpire after rookie debutant Zac O’Brien had just been awarded a free kick for high contact. The 50-metre penalty had gifted the Lions the lead.
It leaves the Blues with just four wins from their 10 starts, and rueing the loss of a game that had mostly seemed in their keeping, despite being well and truly jumped at the start by a desperate home team that sniffed a rare chance for a win in a cursed season.
The Lions had attacked this game with a vigour, even confidence, rarely seen this year. They moved the ball quickly, rattled the Blues with their attack on both ball and man, and quickly had the crowd behind them. Truthfully, they could have blown the game to bits: 10 scoring shots to two for the quarter should have finished the contest.
They had winners both around the ball and up forward. Jack Redden was finding the ball and clearing it at will, and Josh Green was again a livewire up forward. So too was the less likely figure of Daniel Merrett, who kicked a freakish goal on his right foot from the boundary line.
The Lions needed a bit of luck like that – it’s not like they’ve had a lot of it this year. And then, just as quickly, it deserted them, along with any semblance of form as the Blues, inevitably, lifted after quarter time.
The bad luck arrived late in the half as Trent West, originally recruited from Geelong as backup for the injured Matthew Leuenberger, went down clutching a knee. It forced Merrett into the ruck; by half-time, Matthew Warnock was on near-record pace for hit-outs in a game, with 31 and he finished six short of Gary Dempsey’s 63.
By then the wheels were already close to falling off for the Lions. James Aish, slick in the first quarter, coughed up a handball to Andrejs Everitt. Justin Clarke, who would surely be in the reserves if the Lions had anyone else, slipped over as the ball was switched, recovered, then kicked the ball to Everitt again.
The ball finished with substitute Jeff Garlett, who’d been brought on for David Ellard, nursing a sore Achilles tendon on the bench. Garlett first made Clarke pay, then kicked his second to give the Blues the lead as West was hobbling off. It’s basic errors like this that have killed the Lions all year.
Carlton had also lifted in the middle: Marc Murphy, Kade Simpson and former Lion Sam Docherty seizing control of the clearances, helping their side to drive the ball inside 50 a whopping 17 times for the quarter to the Lions’ six. It was a trend that continued in the third quarter.
And yet the Blues couldn’t put the Lions away. Jonathan Brown kicked two goals either side of half-time: every bone in the big man’s body must ache, but he kicked through the ball with all the authority he could muster.
His three goals from eight kicks was, in context, a giant contribution from one of the game’s true giants