Round 18 – Essendon v Brisbane: Is Leppa safe now?

Essendon Vs Brisbane

Etihad Stadium

24th July

Let’s be honest the Brisbane Lions have had a terrible year and with that comes much scrutiny. Like a pack of wolves around an injured rabbit the media have been surrounding the Brisbane Lions football club looking to pounce in particularly on Justin Leppitsch and his coaching performance and Tom Rockcliff and his future with the Lions not only as the captain but as an actual Lions player. Many media experts and the average footy punter are saying that if the Lions lose to Essendon then it is game over for Leppitsch. As for Rockcliff and other senior players like Rich and Hanley they could be put up as attractive trade bait. All in all, the outcome of this match could have some quite signification ramifications.

Brisbane starts well with high intensity and pressure at the football and the Essendon players. For one of the few times this year they are hitting targets and going more direct. In the first five minutes the Lions have had seven clearances to none, and seven inside fifties with the Bombers not really getting it past the centre.  This results in a great start for the Lions, kicking the first three goals for the game through Cutler, Mayes and Mathieson. The rest of the quarter is fairly even but there are promising signs for the Lions. They are willing to carry the ball and run hard. Daniel Rich for the first time in a long time looks like he is not being tag and is dominating across the half back line. His booming left foot is damaging. It is like the Rich of old.

The second quarter is a much more error riddled affair with neither side getting on top. The Bombers miss some easy for shots for goal, whilst the Lions fall into the stop – start footy that has been detrimental to them winning games all year. There is no flow in either teams play. Essendon kick the last two goals of the quarter to cut the margin to 13 points at half time. We have a game on our hands.

It is a stuttery start to the third quarter with Essendon again missing opportunities to score goals. The Lions absorb the pressure in the first 6 minutes before they dominate the next 5 with Cutler, Mathieson and Martin kicking goals. When Rich kicks a booming left foot goal from at least 60 metres out it is a 36-point margin and it looks like the Lions will have their second win for the season. Brisbane have been cleaner with their disposal and finding their targets more than Essendon have. Two late goals to Green and Dawson give the Lions a 40-point lead at the three quarter time break.

The final quarter could not start any better for the Lions with Pearce Hanley getting the centre clearance from the opening bounce and kicking a goal in the first 9 seconds. It must be one of the quickest goals ever after a break. Another goal to Bewick a minute later and it is game over – the Lions will win. Most of the last quarter consists of bruise free footy with the intensity going out of the contest. Essendon get some junk time goals to bring the margin back to 37 points. In the end it has been Brisbane day and it is great to see the boys enjoy their second win after the final siren sounds.

The Brisbane Lions’ senior brigade have stood tall today. They have come under much criticism over the last month with suggestions that players like Rich and Rockcliff should be used as trade bait. Tom Rockliff (38 disposals, one goal) led the way as the Lions’ senior players have run rampant. Daniel Rich (27, one goal) was outstanding, while Pearce Hanley (31, one goal) and ruckman Stefan Martin (25, one goal) have played their best games for the year. Mitch Robinson had his way with David Zaharakis, adding eight clearances as he kept the Dons star to just six touches in the first three quarters.

There were many youngsters for both sides that kept bobbing up with exciting cameos that enable both sets of fans to have hope for the future. Aaron Francis in his first game for the Bombers showed real promise with some great marking and intercepting. There is no doubt he will be a player of the future in the Bombers backline. Joe Daniher was a target up forward even though his kicking let him down and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti continued his excellent debut season form.

Brisbane’s young forward twin targets were much less flashy but also filled us Brisbane fans with some rare hope in what has been a dismal year. Beanpole Eric Hipwood kicked an extraordinary boundary-line snap in the second quarter and No.2 draft pick Josh Schache continued to show his potential, running to the right places and competing over and over again. Darcy Gardiner, Rhys Mathieson and Harris Andrews all had their moments too.

It was great to see the Lions sing the song at the end of the game but watching it happen kind of summed up Brisbane’s season. In the middle of the circle were six young players singing the song for the first time. Not only did this indicate the lack of wins the Lions have had this year, to have so many players in the middle but also that Brisbane are at trying to give plenty of game time to their up and coming youngsters. Whether the win against Essendon will cause Leppitsch’s job as Brisbane coach to be safe only time will tell. All that matter today was Brisbane got another win and that can only do good things for the confidence of young players the Lions have. Let’s hope that the only way from here is going to be up.


BRISBANE LIONS     6.3       9.4       15.6    20.8 (128)

ESSENDON     3.4       6.9       7.14    12.19 (91)


Brisbane Lions: Walker 4, Mathieson 2, Cutler 2, Green 2, Dawson 2, Bewick, Martin, Hipwood, Bastinac, Mayes, Hanley, Rockliff, Rich
Daniher 4, Fantasia 3, Langford, Hams, Dempsey, Brown, McDonald-Tipungwuti


Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Zorko, Robinson, Hanley, Martin, Walker
Goddard, Parish, Daniher, Merrett
Umpires: Donlon, Fisher, O’Gorman

Official crowd: 34,869 at Etihad Stadium


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About Andrew Weiss

Andrew is one of the few Brisbane Lions supporters that lives in the Adelaide Hills. He still has bragging rights over any Crows or Port supporter by mentioning the back to back to back premierships the Lions achieved in 2001-2003. After playing for over a decade for the mighty Adelaide Lutheran Football Club better known as 'The Doggies' he now spends his Saturdays running around footy ovals as an umpire, getting abuse no matter what decision is made. Coaching is probably next on the agenda as his two sons have started to play the great game of AFL. Andrew is a sports fanatic who when not watching or reading about sport is teaching secondary students about Biology, Nutrition and Psychology.


  1. Bill Williams says

    Perhaps the problem for the Lions began with and continues to be with the management of the club.
    At the peak of the Lions success I had a friend over from the US. The Lions were playing in Melbourne. As my friend had seen several NRL games we thought we would go to the club at the Gabba, enjoy the atmosphere there and have lunch etc. I rang the club, thought it may be too busy and we may not get in. Guess what I was told, “we don’t do lunch for away games”. We went to the NRL. What a wasted opportunity and sadly nothing has improved since.
    As shown by the Lions since those glory days winning finals does not itself build a club.
    Admittedly club building is a tough task but coaches and players are destined to fail if the club structure as inadequate as has been proven to be the case at the Lions.
    The Lions have the difficult task of trying to succeed in hostile NRL territory. To go forward perhaps the club must look back at the clubs that have thrived in such environments.
    For Example:
    Sydney Swans: A colourful doctor put Aussie Rules on the map in NSW. The club initially failed but even so the support base continued to grow, WHY? Now they are always there or there about.
    Central Districts: created in a city that was predominately expat English. (Soccer) For many years an abject failure as far as the scoreboard was concerned but through all that the club and its supporter base keep growing. Today Aussie Rules in Elizabeth dominates soccer and the supporter base is arguably the most passionate in Australia. Like the Swans, Centrals eventually enjoyed considerable success and have since consistently be in the hunt for more. WHY?
    Conversely the Lions had a massive peak but fell right back where they were as has the support base.
    The Swans and Centrals are just two examples and they offer different insights into how to build a club in hostile territory. There are more. One thing they had in common was that the heart of the club was made up of people who not only had business experience and a considerable background in Aussie Rules but also a real passion for it.
    Success you have to buy is fleeting. Today if you were a young man just starting what would motivate you to want to come to the Lions. Perhaps to get a start until you can find something better seems likely given the number that say a year or so and go.
    Fix the club, make it special so people are excited by its future and want to be a part of it.
    Today is it seems infighting, complaints and negativity are the by-products of the current club building.
    The Lions Club has a tremendous opportunity and so much it could offer the community it should be a great club to be part of. Why isn’t it?

  2. Andrew Weiss says

    Thanks Bill for your comment.

    I have to agree with many of the points that you have made. I sometimes feel that the management at the Lions are hoping that things like new facilities, AFL handouts etc. are going to help them to get back to being a strong club but the two most important things as afr as I am concerned are looking after the fans and the players, after all they are the main stake holders of any football club.

    I believe that with the age of greedy player managers it is making it more and more difficult to keep promising young talent especially if your club is not having much success. In our golden era we had players like Lappin and Black etc. who were brought up by their parents (as Nigel Lappin explained in his Hall of Fame speech) to be loyal to your football club and stick with them when times are tough. Now days many players and their managers have the attitude of being all about themselves which means no loyalty at all. There is no doubt the Lamberts have done some excellent things to encourage the younger players to stay.

    As for the fans the Lions have lots of improvement to do here. They need to bring it back to the basics and focus on less Brion the Lion and more player interaction with fans, better family and kids memberships and as you said providing things like luncheons and other game day experience that enable the fans to feel that they are part of the club and at the same time attracting new fans to the football.

    Lets hope the Lions can turn it around and some more success is not too far away.

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