Round 20 – Brisbane v North Melbourne: Experience is the best teacher

Brisbane v North Melbourne

2:10PM, Saturday August 4

The Gabba



The chilly surrounds of a Melbourne pub were the muted frame to what was a radiantly-coloured Brisbane day on the big screen; truly magnificent conditions that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a “Queensland – Beautiful one day, Perfect the next” tourism advert.


These Lions might not yet be perfect, nor are they always beautiful with ball in hand, but it’s rapidly becoming clear that they will be – one day or the next.


North were out of the tundra and into the sub-tropics this week, not that it made much of an impact on the way they started the contest. These marsupials were bounding and rebounding all over the place early, Majak Daw top among the rebounders with some nice marks in defensive 50.


After North scored the first couple of goals thanks to superior team-linking play, Eric Hipwood got on the end of a pass on the arc before a 50m penalty gifted him the Lions’ first goal.


The were loose Roos everywhere in the North forward line, but despite Ben Cunnington and Kayne Turner doing their best to capitalise, they were unable to score.


The tide changed further as some handy defensive marshalling from Darcy Gardiner led on to more attacking presses from Brisbane, Hipwood presented well again to set up Lewis Taylor via Dan McStay for another goal. We had a game on our hands.


After quite a “Waite” on the sidelines, Jarrad and his new moustache combined for North’s fourth major.


Big Oscar McInerney got a metre or two of space on his opponent and hoofed at goals from 65m out. His kick cleared the pack at the top of the square to bounce through; he then backed this up with some sublime tapwork at the subsequent centre bounce. He’s been an exciting player this year and seems to fly a little under the radar due to the wealth of exciting smalls at Woolloongabba.


Periods of “bruise-free” footy were emphatically countered by some bone-crushing tackles as both sides willed themselves to the fore.


After some decidedly bruise-heavy play involving a collision between Dayne Zorko and Jed Anderson, Kangas skipper Jack Ziebell took advantage of a temporary loss of Brisbane mojo to kick his first goal of the afternoon. Miraculously the Magician then revived himself and kicked a lovely 45m goal to show just how magic he really is.


Brisbane completed a great end to the opener with a mix of tempo-footy and bursting, kinetic play from Zorko, Allen Christensen and Cam Rayner to lead by 5.


In the second, North and particularly Ziebell showed just how good they are in front of goal, quickly overtaking the Lions again. Waite then morphed into a crumbing forward pocket with great effect, adding his second.


Some inspired play from Jarrod Berry notwithstanding, a North Melbourne side desperate to keep their finals hopes alive were a cut above for most of the term. However, a miraculous “through the eye of a needle” goal from Hugh McCluggage kept the Lions within striking distance, before some Zorko magic 2.0 closed the gap further.


In the third, Anderson continued to build on his impressive performance after quarter time, while Luke McDonald made a rare error out of defensive 50 that gave McCluggage his second. After a comedy of errors from both teams, McInerney beat Daw and Robbie Tarrant in the air, then converted his shot.


Enter Razor Ray Chamberlain – not one to pass up a moment in the spotlight, the game’s most infamous officiator tried to audition for the Harlem Globetrotters after the ball skewed away from an off-kilter bounce. Shortly after, Mitch Robinson took a huge mark with the flight; far more worthy of the spotlight.


Rhys Mathieson put paid to minutes of Brisbane dominance with another major, which brought the margin back under a kick.


A bootless Jy Simpkin then pounced on a Josh Walker stutter near goal, rewarded with a goal that was followed moments later by more mastery from Ziebell.


In a game not short of entertainment, McCluggage bobbed up for another highlights-worthy goal before Ziebell was put off by a well-choreographed and enthusiastic chicken dance on the mark, he missed to the right.


A mouthwatering final term beckoned, before two quick-fire goals to the Kangas looked like they’d push the margin too far for a comeback. But then Christensen applied a metaphorical defibrillator; he ran off opponents and kicked truly – there was a pulse!


What followed seemed an age where Brisbane had the ball spurting around their forward half for only meagre return & the ball back in neutral territory. Thanks to a General-like performance from Luke Hodge, the Lions pressed again through Robinson, his goal reduced the margin to 10 points!


Rayner, who played aspiring lieutenant to the inspiring Hodge, combined with the veteran to make another push into attack – goal!


Tensions were at high as North held fast while their legs could manage it – Ben Brown, quiet all day, found himself in space on the wing with pastures of open space ahead. He did what he had to, thumping it as far as he could. Brisbane defenders mopped up and with two minutes left, set about constructing an audacious victory. The ball back in their forwardline, Rayner topped off a monster fourth quarter with a tackle 15m out from goal – holding the ball! Yes!


Be it nerves, inexperience or both, Rayner rushed his kick and closed the margin to three points. With 30 seconds to go, it was too much for Brisbane; Hipwood denied a chance to snatch the win by the siren.


A bitter end for Rayner, the kid who hasn’t put a foot wrong all year and has future leadership written all over him. He was hurting. The tears were real. His team had given everything and come up short. We all know the pain.


It’s a cliche, but you should always look at losses as a learning experience – I had no doubts as coach Fagan wrapped his arm around the devastated Rayner that the lessons had already begun.




BRISBANE                   6.0       9.2       13.4     16.8 (104)
NORTH MELBOURNE 5.1       12.6     14.9     16.11 (107)


McCluggage 3, Rayner 2, Robinson 2, Mathieson 2, McInerney 2, Zorko 2, Hipwood, Taylor, Christensen
North Melbourne: Ziebell 3, Walker 2, Atley 2, Waite 2, Turner 2, Cunnington, Hrovat, Wood, Simpkin, Brown

Brisbane: McCluggage, Zorko, Berry, Christensen, Robinson, Andrews
North Melbourne: Ziebell, Dumont, Daw, Simpkin, Goldstein

Our best: McCluggage, Ziebell, Zorko

Crowd: 18,395




A classic jack of all trades & master of a couple, Jarrod started his footy career as a gangly ruck after a growth spurt catapulted him to the lofty heights of 177cm as a 12-year-old. Forward pocket off the bench was where he ended up as he topped out at 178cm eight years later. The trajectory of a career in health fortunately didn't peak during the pre-teen years & a keen interest in footy has turned from playing to coaching, volunteering and writing.


  1. Lots to like about Rayner – this clip with Fagan helps to illustrate his character more, particularly how he fronted up in the team meeting.

  2. I went to the game.
    Great football. Brisbane seem ready to rise.
    North won. I was elated. After being quiet most of the game, when the siren went, I made some noise…

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