Round 3 – Brisbane v West Coast: No Zorko, no worries


Saturday 20 June 2020


The Gabba




Excitement filled our household early in the week as the Premier announced crowds would be returning to the footy this weekend, albeit in small numbers. Quick we were to enter the ballot but lucky we were not. Another weekend on the couch for me then. I’m sure the pets won’t mind the extra company – won’t they be in for a rude shock when we all return to work?


Both teams are entering the match with a 1-1 record and both need the win for different reasons. The Lions need to make the most of a month of footy at the Gabba and can ill-afford to enter the next block of matches with a losing record. West Coast should be hurting after a miserable effort against the unfancied Gold Coast Suns and are in desperate need of turning their fortunes around with still another fortnight left at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast. It is true they haven’t embraced the concept of the hub and it must be difficult, but frankly more is expected from such an experienced and professional team.


It has been a wet and miserable week in Brisbane and so damp, heavy and humid conditions are expected. Zorko is a late out for the Lions with the big bodied Cam Ellis-Yolmen making his debut for the club. The Eagles, missing the suspended McGovern, go in as listed.


The first half is scrappy, tough and low scoring, an arm wrestle if ever there was one. West Coast go into the break with a slender lead. Both teams were guilty of squandering chances, particularly the Lions, who miss too many gettable shots – I seem to say this every week. Of West Coast’s three first half goals, one came from a ruck infringement and the other from a poor Mitch Robinson turnover in defensive fifty that he would surely love to have over again. The defence seems to be holding strong.


I’m not sure what happened at half time. Perhaps the coaches moved the magnets around or maybe the Gabba ground staff got the old Super-Sopper out, but the game opens up magnificently. I’m a bit tardy coming back from some half time chores and somehow miss the first three goals!


The Lions start getting the game on their terms and manage five for the quarter, finally making the most of their chances. The midfield brigade, missing captain Zorko, are menacing – outworking and out tackling their opposition. As well as that, Cam Rayner provides a spark and plays his best quarter for the year, taking the game on and breaking through West Coasts line. He has his detractors, the lad affectionately known as Pumba, but give him time as there is so much upside. I look forward to him pushing his way into the midfield in the coming years.


I was nervous losing Zorko before the match, so often he has been the barometer for our midfield. A simply ridiculous stat emerges before the game – Brisbane has not won a match without Zorko since Round 4, 2012 – three weeks BEFORE he made his debut for the Lions. Surely this must show the growth of the team and in particular the midfield group. Despite copping a fair whack from Fages pre-season for his effort and work rate, I thought Cam Ellis-Yolmen slotted in seamlessly in his first game for the club.


For West Coast, there are few who stand up – Gaff is serviceable in the midfield and Ryan tries his best to create a spark. All are in the shadow of the West Coast big man. Nic Nat plays the role of ruckman, rover, wingman, crumbing forward and tall forward – sometimes you just need to sit back and appreciate we are watching a truly unique athlete. For his sake, for the games sake, I hope he can get his body right for the next few seasons. Someone who I just love watching play the game.


Encouragingly, Hugh McCluggage played his best game for the year in an even team performance. Again, Starcevich attacks the ball and the contest with vigour – keep an eye on this kid. Big O is very good and provides a presence up forward. Oh, and have you heard of this guy called Lachie Neale? Well, he’s pretty good too. And by pretty good, I mean darn tootin’ good.


In the end, the Lions do it comfortably. West Coast threaten to get close in the last quarter but Jarrod Berry puts that theory to bed before it gets going. This is a good win and the fans lucky enough to get in provide their vocal appreciation. With crowds coming back in greater numbers next week – hopefully we’ll get our chance to return to the footy soon, but until then, we’ll continue cheering from afar.




BRISBANE                 1.2         2.6      7.9        10.14 (74)

WEST COAST            2.1         3.4      5.4         6.8 (44)



Brisbane: J.Berry 3, Neale 2, Starcevich, Cameron, McInerney, McStay, Bailey

West Coast: Ryan 3, Darling, Naitanui, Kennedy,



Brisbane: Neale, McCluggage, J.Berry, Lyons, Starcevich

West Coast: Naitanui, Gaff, Ryan





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  1. Jarrod_L says

    Something about that third quarter – I’d been a bit crook and fell asleep during it and so missed most of the good stuff!

    The Zorko stat was certainly interesting, but glad it’s no longer relevant.

  2. well described Sam

    go Lions
    3rd quarter was great to watch – you missed heaps !! Jarrod
    was more entertained by this game than the embarrassment of the Tigers limp performance against the Hawks the other night

    A bit worried about what the home grown hub influence does to the “fairness of the competition” as a construct to deal with COVID
    eg the Suns and lions taking care of business this last couple of weeks in the Queensland warm winter

    I sympathise with the West Coast Fremantle Crows and Power – but plenty of players in other sports for example Cricket players go for Tours far away from loved ones for months at a time – at least they have a job doing what they love

    I didn’t know that Talismanic is a word ( i.e. used to describe the Zork )
    I presume it means one who has only missed 4 games in 174 games as a Lion and has been the heart and soul of the club
    Kind of Like Dusty with the Tigers ( sorry had to get a Richmond reference in there some where!!) he was sorely missed the other night

  3. Shane Reid says

    Thanks Sam, I enjoyed your report. It was great to see McCluggage back to his 2019 form (and probably then some). It will actually be interesting to see who gets dropped for Zorko. Ellis-Yolmen would be unlucky to not keep his spot.

  4. Happy that the Qld teams are performing well, especially Brisbane. My soft spot for them still lingers from my 23 years in Brisbane.

  5. Sam Evans says

    It’s great to see the depth we are building in midfield and defense isn’t it Shane. I think it will be Ellis-Yolmen who makes way for Zorko. Or perhaps an idea from left field would be to drop a McCarthy or McStay and play Zorko in a forward/midfield role as we were experimenting with in the pre-season?

    Thanks Richard and Jan – the Lions are starting to play an attractive brand of footy, let’s hope we can keep it up!

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