Round 4 – Brisbane v Gold Coast: Winning starts with a W

“What’s this called again?



Oh, winning. Winning.

Yeah, got it. Thanks.”


I am, of course, being harsh. After all, it was only eight short months ago that the Lions got to belt out the club song when they snuck home against the Bulldogs in the final round of 2015 to avoid the wooden spoon.

Saturday’s victory over the Suns was obviously a little different, in that it was a round 4 game against an opponent that Brisbane supporters appear to genuinely dislike. The confected bullsh*t around the marketing of the “QClash” is tiresome but there was real ferocity in the contest on Saturday. I’m loathe to admit that the wet dreams of the AFL promotions people have come true but as the Suns have improved and the Lions have regressed, the coming together of the two sunshine state teams has become a date that supporters from both factions mark in the calendar. Perhaps it’s because neither team has had an honest claim to being a competition threat in the last couple of seasons, so the smaller challenges are doubled down upon by the respective fan bases. Perhaps it’s just because opposition spectators don’t have to board a plane to see their team. Every game in the AFL has meaning but the Queensland derby is starting to illicit additional interest and all the better for promoting the game in Queensland.

Early on it was clear that the Lions would be up to the task of matching the undefeated Suns and through the first two quarters Brisbane were the better team despite what the scoreboard said. Errant goal kicking has become synonymous with this Lions outfit. On-field scuffles were numerous throughout the first half and when Steven May put his shoulder through the cranium of Brisbane’s second most famous Stefan (Martin does appear to share Ackerie’s passion for a coiffure) it was clear that there would be no shortage of physicality heading into the second half.

The Lions had the better of it in the second half, with key contributions from a number of Lions and another superb performance from Pearce Hanley. Walker, asked to ruck in place of the injured Martin, did enough and the intensity of the Lions throughout the second half ensured they won plenty of ball. Based on this outing the Suns should be disappointed. Perhaps they thought a jaunt up the M1 would be an easier affair? They were caught out by the Lions willingness and couldn’t match the run or intensity for the most part. Tom Lynch looks as good as the spruikers say but if his mids aren’t feeding him there’s not much the big man can do. Most full forwards would be content with five goals but Lynch had Merrett’s number and with some better service could have been the difference.

After Saturday’s effort the Lions now lead the league in behinds scored this season. Word is that following the 7.14 (56) performance against the Cats in round three, Leppa lined up some extra goal kicking practice at training. The twenty-three singles recorded against the Suns on Saturday is the most by any club in a game this season. Hopefully the coach doesn’t make them practice too much this week. The margin of victory against the Suns should have been considerably greater than the 13 behind win it turned out to be on Saturday.

If the Lions don’t start kicking straighter they will be losing games that they have every right to win over the course of the season.

As an aside, I had another set of ideas that I was preparing to explore this week after what, on paper, appeared to be another Lions loss. Roughly sketched, it would have run along the lines of: What does it mean when the expectations for your team are measured in ways other than winning? This thought had occurred to me when the Lions official match day report of the Cats game started with: “Effort versus class. Intent versus execution. Youth versus experience.”

As a Lions supporter seeing this drivel on their official website jarred with me. In a game where the difference between the top and the bottom of the table manifests itself in triple digit margins, the common belief at the beginning of the season was that the Lions, like the Blues and Melbourne and St Kilda, would be at a standard that required each team to be measured by a different set of performance benchmarks than other clubs to show success despite evidence of failure. Within a competitive environment, there is surely no worse fate for a club than to be an afterthought, a forgone conclusion rather than a challenge, a W already pencilled in on the fixture list. Even the club’s own media people seemed to have taken this attitude as read.

“Effort versus class. Intent versus execution. Youth versus experience.”

What sort of club refactors the narrative of a game to be about something that it is not? It was a raising of the white flag. It was an excuse and it was a plea to supporters to not judge the players on the scoreboard but to use a whole new range of factors to suggest things were still going well. As far as I was concerned it was a statement that read: “We’re shit at the moment but hang in there for a year or two”. Bugger that. Class is not effortless. Intent is not enough. Young legs can beat old heads. It was a statement that undermined what this team is capable of and made excuses for sub-par on-field performance.

Now I’m not the world’s biggest homer, I acknowledge that there are issues at the Lions that aren’t easily fixed. Anyone who had watched a Brisbane game in the last 18 months knows the critical flaw of the team: Basic skill errors when moving the ball forward. There are other issues too: a lack of tall forwards, a lack of key defenders, and an inability to kick accurately.

But watching the Lions play this year you can see the development of a team that can, should and will win football games. I’ll happily cop stick from pundits and opposing fans about the state of the team but seeing an official match report from the club itself that effectively concedes that the squad isn’t good enough to compete with half of the competition is beyond the pale.



BRISBANE LIONS              3.6         4.15        10.20     14.23 (107)

GOLD COAST SUNS          4.2          7.5          12.7        14.10 (94)


Brisbane Lions: Bell 2, Cutler 2, Hanley 2, Christensen, Bastinac, Green, Bewick, Martin, Zorko, Schache, Taylor

Gold Coast Suns: Lynch 5, Sexton 2, Rosa, Martin, Day, Cameron, Hall, Rischitelli, Malceski


Brisbane Lions: Hanley, Rich, Bell, Taylor, Robinson

Gold Coast Suns: Lynch, Malceski, Hall, Ablett, Day

Leave a Comment