A sun-baked Gabba on Saturday afternoon provided the canvas for Brisbane to demonstrate the vast disparity between themselves and Carlton’s.
The Lions looked poised and hungry. Their ball movement was concise and frighteningly penetrating.
Whenever the ball was turned over, the Lions players ran harder both offensively and defensively than their opponents.
In contrast, the Blues looked disorganised and lethargic. As was elegantly put by Jonathan Brown; the Carlton defenders are “making an art form of sagging off their opponent”.
Both Pat Cripps and Dayne Zorko had a similarly limited impact on their respective sides. However, the performance and development of the next level were contrasting.
The disparity in growth between Sam Petrevski-Seton and Alex Witherden highlights such.
Carlton named Petrevski-Seton as their best first-year player, but his performances lack the potency and consistency of his Lions counterpart.
Witherden has become a frequent contributor, which he demonstrated no more than on Sunday.
Witherden frequently beat his opponent and carved up the Blues defence with his elite foot skills.
The Lion ranks elite in four stat categories and above average in an astonishing ten, while Petrevski-Seton ranks elite in none and above average in five.
In addition, the growth of Darcy Gardiner and Jacob Weitering follows a similar trend.
Gardiner has become an impressive stopper who is rarely beaten, is composed with the ball, and regularly intercepting.
Weitering’s development could not be different. The number 1 draft pick frequently loses his opponents around the ground and continually is caught with the ball.
In 2018, Darcy Gardiner rates elite in five statistical categories and above average in another four. Weitering ranks elite in none and above average in only three, highlighting the extreme disparity.
Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow are undoubtedly going to be stars, but the next level is bare.
In contrast, the Lions have stars like Hipwood and Andrews, but the next level is full of talents like Gardiner, Witherden, Cutler, and Rayner who are miles ahead of their Carlton counterparts.