Brisbane Lions 4.1 4.6 9.9 11.13 (79)
Port Adelaide 4.6 11.11 18.17 25.23 (173)
Brisbane – Goals: Walker 2 Zorko 2 Close 2 Hipwood Green Dawson Robertson Rockliff. Port Adelaide: Wingard 5 Butcher 4 Boak 3 Westhoff 2 Imp ey 2 Amon 2 Ah Chee 2 Trengove 2 Ebert 2 Young.
Best – Brisbane: Smith Zorko Rich. Port Adelaide: Wines Gray Trengove Polec Butcher Boak.
Injuries – Port Adelaide: Hartlett (calf) replaced in selected side by Toumpas.
Umpires: Stephens Hay McInerney.
Crowd: 13,085 at the Gabba.
For a number of games in season 2016, Brisbane Lions home matches have followed a set pattern. The Lions have roared out of the blocks, kicking the first two or three goals, before being buried in an avalanche in the second quarter. There might be a brief revival after half-time to spare some blushes, but by then, it’s already game over.
And so it was at half-time against Port Adelaide. The Lions had started brightly: Dayne Zorko won a free kick in front of goal after nailing Robbie Gray in a hard tackle, and Eric Hipwood, who has already announced himself as a serious talent, launched an enormous bomb from outside 50 metres for their second.
Ten minutes in, and Josh Walker had another, again from beyond 50. And then – as in matches against Greater Western Sydney, West Coast and Fremantle – it all fell to pieces, with the Power piling on 10 of the next 11 goals to lead by 47 points at the main break.
That’s the pattern viewed from a distance. But watched more closely, there were other more disturbing trends. The lack of defensive running. The missed tackles. The opponents left to mark uncontested in the forward line, with a free run and jump at the ball and no body contact. Marks inside 50 at half time were 18-4, the Power’s way.
It could have been much worse, too. Of the Power’s 11 behinds at half-time, eight came from set shots, none of them especially difficult. Aaron Young finished with five behinds, and another shot from well within range was rushed through. John Butcher and Travis Boak missed sitters.
And at the beginning of the third quarter, debutant ruckman Archie Smith, who otherwise impressed with his big leap, soft hands and a wonderful mark on the wing in the first quarter, gave his opponent Jackson Trengove 20 metres to amble into the forward line and boot another, to snuff out any hope.
To that point, Smith, in his first game, and Hipwood, in his sixth, were the Lions’ best players. Zorko aside, that is simply an indictment of the club’s senior players and leaders. It’s easy to point the finger at players like Lewis Taylor, a Rising Star winner in 2014, but it’s not as if Pearce Hanley or Tom Rockliff were setting the example.
Rockliff, who normally at least can be relied on to stick tackles, didn’t have one to three-quarter time. Hanley barely looked interested. Daniel Rich followed a better game against the Bombers last week with a passable one here. Zorko alone continues to set the standard.
It’s pretty hard to measure the merit of any win against this sort of stuff, not when the Lions are so young, but more so when they offer such token resistance. And Port Adelaide, seemingly so near a few short years ago, are effectively out of finals contention anyway. Beating up one of the league’s weakest teams is little consolation.
Which is not to say they didn’t have good players on the night, of course: Ollie Wines was his bullish self at the coalface, and while Smith fought on gamely, Trengove’s heavier body and experience saw him bullock his way through 15 clearances. Jared Polec showed class against his old club.
The final margin was 94 points; the Power’s final score of 25.23 (173) was the highest score by any club this year. It is terribly difficult for the Lions to continue defending the nature of these losses. Yes, they are young, but this is no excuse for lack of effort.