Huge boost for Lions ahead of blockbuster
Brisbane senior coach Chris Fagan says Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale is an outside chance to make his comeback from an ankle injury in the Friday night blockbuster with Melbourne.
Just where the top four clash takes place remains up in the air due to Covid as it is setdown for Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, who sent this weekend’s match between Hawthorn and the Gold Coast packing after the latest outbreak in Victoria.
Regardless of where the clash is held, Brisbane will take ominous momentum and confidence into the match after a 64-point thrashing of GWS at the Gabba on Saturday.
The Mitch Robinson-inspired Lions kicked six goals in the first 19 minutes of the match to race to a 40-point lead and set-up their seventh-straight win.
And the red-hot Brisbane could be bolstered by the return of Neale who last appeared in the Round 6 win over Carlton.
“Well, there’s a chance that he’ll be right,’’ Fagan said of his star on-baller.
“He’s progressing really well so the decision will be, we’ve got a bye the week after as long as everything proceeds as planned.
“But it may make more sense to wait until after that bye, but we’ll just see what happens this week.
“It’s a big game, first versus third. It’s good that we are going to have the opportunity to be tested by them. I think the game will still go ahead on Friday night as far as I know but I don’t know where it will take place.
“We’ve been up for a few weeks and played some really strong team football…we are in great shape to be able to play a team like Melbourne who are obviously the benchmark of the competition, so we’ll look forward to that opportunity.
“I think our cohesion and synergy as a team has improved quite a bit over the last seven weeks, but I know we are a better team than what we were when we played (the Western Bulldogs in Round 4). It will be good to find that out, whenever we play Melbourne.’’
Fagan said the Lions smelled blood in the water after the Giants were sent home from Sydney airport on Friday due to Covid protocols and had to fly into Brisbane on gameday.
“It was an exciting start. You could sense before the game, I normally can’t, but I just felt like our blokes were on today. They also understood it was a pretty testing 24 hours for the Giants,’’ Fagan said.
“That’s a big 24 hours and I think our blokes were aware of that and they knew probably a good start would definitely help because no doubt there would be a little wear and tear on the Giants as a result of what they had to go through.’’
Neale hasn’t played since Brisbane’s round six win over Carlton (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Fagan lauded the performance of Robinson, who had 30 disposals and a career-high four goals, including one after the three-quarter-time siren that brought the Gabba faithful to its feet.
“He’s been in good form the last couple of weeks but today was as good as I’ve ever seen Mitch Robinson play in his career. For a wingman to kick four goals and have as many touches as he did, he was inspirational,’’ he said.
The Lions led by 34 points at the first change, by 42 at halftime and by 61 at the last break with the home side having 13 individual goalkickers. Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko had 14 touches in the decisive first term and finished with 35 disposals, six clearances and two goals.
GWS senior coach Leon Cameron said the travel disruptions were no excuse for the heavy loss and neither were the raft of injuries to the Giants playing list. He said Brisbane deserved full credit.
“They’re a really good team, they’ve won seven in a row for a reason, they’re a top four team. That jump, kicking six goals within about 10 minutes probably rocked our young fellas and that probably hurt us,’’ he said.
“There’s always going to be different circumstances for every team. We were coming off a short break and some challenges getting up here and maybe that contributed a little bit to the start, but all indicators in the changerooms in the warmup, and looking at the lads … they really wanted to put their best foot forward from the start.
“To the Lions’ credit they were ruthless in the first five or 10 minutes and probably put our boys on the back foot. It was disappointing because a lot of them had a good five or six weeks and we probably just let ourselves down a touch today.’’
Cameron said Adam Kennedy, Matt de Boer, Toby Greene and Phil Davis were all a chance to return to the GWS line-up after the bye.
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