Well, where do I start. First of all, I was very excited walking through Fitzroy Gardens to the magnificently lit-up MCG. It was first…
To reach the bye on top of the ladder is of course a great result, even if it is by 0.2 per cent.
There’s always the worry for a fan after a finals heartache whether your team will be challenging again next year.
A big positive is to bank the wins early.
Last year the Lions started slowly and had to play catch up throughout the middle parts of the year. Due to that, they spent too many tickets having to get back into the top four.
Brisbane haven’t been at their best throughout parts of this season but they’ve still found ways to win. A substantial difference is a fully fit Lachie Neale, who had an interrupted 2021. This season he has cemented himself, if he even needed to, as one of the premier midfielders of the competition.
The return of Cameron Rayner has had a positive impact. Obviously, it’s to a slightly lesser extent than Neale’s but after a slow start to the season recovering from an ACL, he’s added another dimension to the midfield the way he crashes in and wins the ball. His speed away from stoppages is also a vital asset.
Our best win so far this season was against Sydney at the SCG. Up against a fellow top-eight opposition, which is important, the Lions got challenged in the third quarter, held their nerve to break away and won.
Arguably our most important player is Joe Daniher. The team have kicked 201 goals this year – 30 more than the next best – but up against the best teams you need the big key-forward to take the main defender, especially given Eric Hipwood is still finding his form after an ACL injury.
A key player up the other end of the ground is Harris Andrews, who sometimes gets unfairly criticised for his laconic playing style. He desperately cares for this team. It was good to see him play well on Max King after King got him last year. I will say he’s better when he starts back shoulder, rather than zoning off.
The biggest tests are still to come, such as Melbourne at the MCG, where the Lions haven’t won since 2014.
As it stands in the run home, Brisbane play four top-eight teams. The last three of those are in the final three rounds, which hopefully gives the Lions are good test of where they are heading into the finals.