A spectacular mark and goal from rising star Liam Jurrah secured a dramatic win for Melbourne over Brisbane in the historic AFL exhibition match at Shanghai.
Jurrah kicked five goals, including three in the tight final term, as the Demons recovered from a 31-point deficit to beat the Lions 12.12 (84) to 11.13 (79) at Jiang Wan Stadium on Sunday.
It was the first Australian Rules match played in China.
The winner of the AFL’s mark of the year took a spectacular pack mark and goalled with seconds left to secure the win.
Melbourne officials had to arrange a birth certificate and passport for the 22-year-old indigenous star from central Australia before he could make the trip.
“It’s huge – I’m more confident after that and looking forward to the pre-season and new season next year,” Jurrah said.
Jurrah’s first goal was a booming shot from outside 50m in the second term.
A dislocated shoulder in the pre-season earlier this year put Jurrah out of action for several weeks, but he played eight matches for a career total of 17.
His performance in Shanghai emphasises why the Demons are so excited about his AFL potential.
Brisbane appeared certain to close out the match when rookie player Claye Beams stretched their lead to 31 points with a bomb from 50m to open the final quarter.
But Melbourne ruckman Jake Spencer kicked a long-range reply a minute later and the prodigious Jurrah then sparked into action.
His knock-on pass gave Jamie Bennell a clear run into the square before Jurrah himself goaled with banana kick and followed it up with the first of two spectacular marks and goals in the final term.
Brisbane’s Amon Buchanan provided the highlight of the first half with a darting run and cheeky stab at goal along the ground from a sharp angle close to the post.
Melbourne’s Cale Morton rounded out the first half with a booming shot from wide out on the 50m line to take his side within seven points of their younger opponents at the main break.
But the match belonged to the sensational Jurrah, who only narrowly missed a left foot snap to register the winning goal two minutes before he provided the 7,000 strong crowd with a more spectacular finale.
Earlier, Brisbane’s rigorous post-season review appeared to be bearing fruit when, despite the absence of big names Brendan Fevola and Jonathan Brown, their young team posted three goals to their opponents’ one in a sloppy first quarter.
Brisbane’s Daniel Merrett played strongly, while team-mates Beams and Tom Rockliff impressed with three goals apiece in the 16-a-side showcase, deliberately modified to provide an open game.
The two teams were also short of available players for the match.