Brisbane ‘juggernaut’ rolls on against Crows; Lions ‘never going to be more ready’, lethal attack fires: 3-2-1
Brisbane’s record start to 2022 has continued in Adelaide, with a 36-point win over the Crows on Saturday night.
The Lions claimed their eighth win in nine matches – only the Round 4 loss to Geelong has prevented the perfect start.
Their 8-1 record is the club’s best start since their Fitzroy days back in 1948.
Despite a tough second term where Adelaide hit the lead, Brisbane easily ran out 16.6 (102) to 9.12 (66) winners.
Charlie Cameron kicked four goals to be the best of the Lions, while Lachie Neale did little to dent his Brownlow Medal hopes with 35 disposals, seven clearances and a goal.
The big win had Fox Footy’s Leigh Montagna believing it could be Brisbane’s year in 2022.
“They are never going to be more ready this is their year. It’s just whether they can beat Melbourne,” he said.
“They have stars on every line.”
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Taylor Walker got Adelaide off to the perfect start against Brisbane, but it was all the visitors from that point in the first term.
After making seven changes to the side well-beaten by Carlton in Round 8, Crows coach Matthew Nicks said he wanted his players to play “with no fear”.
And he got what he asked for early when James Rowe played on quickly and found Walker inside forward 50.
“He doesn’t waste any time or allow the Lions defence to get set,” Fox Footy’s Leigh Montagna said.
The Lions had opted for a tall forward line, with Jacob Payne and Eric Hipwood in attack after Crows defender Jordon Butts was a late withdrawal under the AFL’s health and safety protocols.
But it was the Lions smaller brigade of Charlie Cameron, Zac Bailey and Lincoln McCarthy who kicked goals in quick succession.
By the time Cameron had his second, the Lions were out to an 18-point lead.
But just as Nicks had asked of his players, they continued to take the game on. Lions star Lachie Neale was closed down in defensive 50 while a quick play through the corridor allowed Shane McAdam to kick his first for the night.
“When they can break that half forward line, they are getting good looks inside 50,” Montagna said.
Josh Rachele got the crowd up and about when he had his first as the Crows won praise for having a “red hot crack”, according to commentator Brad Johnson.
By quarter time, Brisbane were out to an 11-point lead.
But the Crows continued to dig deep in the second term, shutting down Brisbane’s attack and forcing them to go down the line.
It took a moment of controversy for Adelaide to get on the board in the second term, with the ball appearing to cross the boundary line before play was allowed to continue.
Ned McHenry took full advantage to kick a goal, despite the protests of the Lions players.
“That is clearly out,” Montagna said.
“(But) it was a classy goal.”
The “Mac attack” duo of McHenry and McAdam kicked four goals between them in the second, to take the lead from the second-placed Lions.
“They are in the hunt here the Adelaide Crows,” commentator Brad Johnson said.
The Crows looked on track to break a 28-year record of keeping their opponent scoreless in a quarter, as Brisbane failed to trouble the scorers right up until the dying minutes when Zac Bailey broke the drought.
“The Crows couldn’t have really done much more there,” Montagna said.
A sloppy 50-metre penalty against Crow Jordan Dawson hurt Adelaide’s charge as Jarryd Lyons made the home side pay.
Hugh McCluggage had a chance to put Brisbane in front at the main change after a Brodie Smith high tackle, but couldn’t convert.
The Crows took a three-point lead into half time.
Lions coach Chris Fagan solved his big first half woe by evening up the number behind the ball, and Brisbane finally found their way to goal in the third.
The Lions kicked six goals to just one to not only reclaim the lead, but silence the Adelaide Oval crowd.
It was Bailey who gave the Lions the lead with his third goal before a harsh 50-metre penalty gifted Neale his first of the night.
Neale had intercepted the Crows exit from defensive 50 and when both Josh Rachele and Rory Laird evacuated the mark, thinking the other would remain, Adelaide were hit by a 50m penalty that gifted the Lions a goal and buffer.
“They both move out of the way,” Johnson said.
“I don’t think the Adelaide Crows did anything wrong.
“They are not coming towards the mark or encroaching.”
Jackson Hately managed to pull one goal back late in the third term, but Brisbane’s lead was out to 28 points by the final change.
The game was essentially over at the three-quarter-time break as Brisbane stepped up again.
Oscar McInerney hit the scoreboard and Dayne Zorko had two quick goals to ensure Brisbane took the four points home.
“They have just been outclassed by a much better side,” Montagna said. “(The Crows) are building something for the future. Even though the game is gone now, a strong finish to the game, you should still set standards.”
3. THE LETHAL LIONS ATTACK
Brisbane’s attack has stamped itself as the best in the competition, with Fox Footy’s Leigh Montagna believing it’s even stronger than that of reigning premiers Melbourne.
Heading into the contest with the Crows, Brisbane were already averaging more than 100 points a game.
Despite being held almost goalless in the second term, the Lions still managed to crack triple figures and kick 16 goals at Adelaide Oval.
This is despite the fact the Lions were missing two of their top five goal scorers since the start of 2021 in Joe Daniher and Dan McStay.
The Crows looked to be stretched for height when Jordon Butts was a late withdrawal, but it was Brisbane’s smalls who did the damage.
Charlie Cameron kicked 4.1, Zac Bailey had 3.0 before three quarter time while Brisbane finished with 10 individual goal kickers.
“Fourth week in a row the Brisbane Lions have kicked 100 points,” Montagna said.
“They are an offensive juggernaut.
“Brisbane have got something on Melbourne that not many other teams do – the ability to pile on a big score.”
Mark Ricciuto said he had been “worried” about the Lions talls, but it was the Crows small defenders “having nightmares”.
Montagna said Brisbane’s versatile forward line was their biggest strength.
“They’ve just got so many weapons that they can rotate one in the forward half,” he said.
“They’ve got firepower everywhere down at ground level.
“They are a team that spread the goal kicking really well – they don’t rely on one individual.
“I think they’ve got the best collection of small forwards in the competition.
“They are so dangerous.”
2. CROWS DUO REVEAL BLUEPRINT TO ‘STIFLE’ LIONS
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks opted for an extra man in defence to try and slow a team that is averaging more than 100 points a game in 2022.
And the decision to send Jordan Dawson and Tom Doedee as the spare man paid off in the second term as Brisbane’s run came to a grinding halt.
The Lions failed to trouble the scorers until the dying minutes of the second, when they kicked two quick goals – one coming from a tough 50m penalty.
“Doedee and Dawson really were able to intercept and get a bit of penetration going,” Fox Footy’s Leigh Montagna said.
“It took away Brisbane’s strength of moving the ball with speed through the corridor like the first quarter.
“It’s certainly giving the Brisbane Lions coaching staff something to think about in the second half.”
Montagna was especially impressed with Dawson’s positioning as the spare man.
“Dawson puts himself behind the ball, it’s slowing Brisbane’s ball movement up,” he said.
“They want to go through the corridor and get the ball moving quick to give the forwards a chance.
“But because of where Dawson is positioning himself, they’ve had to slow down, go sideways and it’s really played into the Crows’ hands.”
Between Dawson and Doedee, they had 15 intercept possessions and 29 disposals in their back half in the first half.
“They really stifled them,” Montagna said.
“They really kept them scoreless (for much of the second term).”
1. BERRY BROUGHT FORWARD TO SOLVE FAGAN’S PROBLEM
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan was adamant his side could “work our way through” the Jordan Dawson issue that stifled the Lions’ charge at Adelaide Oval.
Dawson and teammate Tom Doedee were influential in slowing down the Lions as the spare man in defence.
So Fagan and his coaching staff hatched a plan and opted to send Jarrod Berry, who had struggled to find the footy, back onto Dawson to even up the numbers.
Berry had just four disposals to half time on a quiet night.
“He just looks like he’s lost his spot in that midfield,” Fox Footy’s Leigh Montagna said.
“It just means he’s finding himself out on a wing and he’s just struggling to get into the game.”
Fellow commentator Brad Johnson said Berry was forced to the “outside” as Fagan opted for the speed of Bailey and the precision of Zorko instead.
The move to send Berry to Dawson paid off in the third term with the Crows duo contained to just 10 disposals between them, while the Lion was able to hit the scoreboard.
“They’ve assigned Jarrod Berry. He had a quiet first half, so give him a role to play for his team,” Montagna said.
“He was just able to nullify (Dawson’s) intercept game.
“Berry did a really good job and more importantly, he kicked a goal.”