What went right?
A fair bit!
While five wins in 2018 is the exact same number as the Lions achieved in 2017, it seems as if Brisbane took a massive leap forward this time around. From finishing on the bottom just 12 months ago to becoming a side that was hard to beat, the improvement from Chris Fagan’s side was remarkable. A stretch of great form late in the season proved that the Lions are heading in the right direction, keeping fans excited for the years to come.
What went perfectly to plan was the development of their youngsters. Cam Rayner looks as if he will be a superstar, many had Alex Witherden for the rising star, Hugh McGluggage is a handy player and Zac Bailey is a man on the up. The best thing here is that all four signed on for the future before any other teams had a chance to potentially lure them away from Brisbane; a great sign.
As previously said, they became hard to beat. They became a side that could match it with anyone on their day. They were able to take a few nice scalps on their way to five wins, but they were also competitive in almost every game; hence the strong percentage of 89%.
They played attractive football and they brought excitement back to their games, which the fans loved. Developing their youngsters through the mentoring of Luke Hodge and obviously Chris Fagan, who took the newbies under their wing will set them in good stead for the next couple of years. One of the feel-good moments of the year was Fagan wrapping his arms around Rayner after his miss late against North Melbourne cost his side the match. Heartbreaking, but a well learnt lesson.
What went wrong?
The biggest criticism for the Lions this season was losing the tight games, but even this can be looked at as a positive. We have seen North do this for a few years and seem to have learn from the experience, and we all know about how the Tigers became known for losing the close ones. They certainly are better off for it. Brisbane will be hoping that the same goes for them as they move into 2019, but they maybe could have enjoyed more reward for their effort.
Losing Harris Andrews was one of their toughest moments in 2018. Nothing the Lions could have done about it, but it could have been the difference between him getting a All- Australian jacket or not. Thankfully, what seemed as if it could be an injury that would set the young man back a heap, saw him miss just a month. Andrews though; a superstar in the making.
No surprises here – Dayne Zorko.
Averaging 21 touches and seven tackles, Zorko is the barometer for Brisbane. With the Lions clearly on the rise, there aren’t many who are as exciting to lead a team into a period that many see as an opportunity to make the step up.
Four best and fairest awards in a row from the Broadbeach man; impressive. A performance that sticks in the mind was his four goal and 34 touch effort against the Pies, that saw them just go down by seven points. But Zorko took up a leadership role this season, playing every game that included the latter half of the season as captain. He may have liked to have his two games against the Suns back, after some altercations with Touk Miller, but things like this are just part of the game.
It was hard to choose between either of the wins against Hawthorn, but we went with the one in Launceston. Trailing at half time by eleven points, Hawthorn seemed as if they would do simply what they do in Tasmania, and that is normally winning. Tom Mitchell had 43 possessions and Jaeger O’Meara kicked a bag of four, which makes the Lions win more impressive.
But it was the youngsters who got them over the line. McGluggage, Witherden and Berry were stars on the day, with three goals each to Rayner and Hipwood completing the ultimate team performance.
Brisbane ran out winners by 33 points, holding the Hawks to just one point in the final term. It’s amazing that the Hawks still made the top four after losing to the Lions twice, but that’s for another time. An impressive win for the Lions here, a win that may go down as the start of something special.
What are the goals for 2019?
While 2018 was a significant improvement from the year previous, there weren’t any tangible rewards in terms of their amount of wins. Brisbane will expect to win 8-10 games, which would show that Chris Fagan is the right man for the job. Could they even make a mini-push for September?
September may be a bit far fetched for next season, and another year with their young stars developing is much needed. They should be inspired however by the season of North Melbourne, who were expected to finish in the bottom couple, but were in the race for the eight right up until the final weeks.
A pass for Brisbane; who were always expected to be in the bottom half of the table, but turned their club from easy beats, to a team that is threatening. More youngsters in the draft and maybe some work in the trade period will put them in good stead.
Are the Lions on the prowl? Let us know what you think in the comments and poll below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. Can’t get enough of the Lions, READ: Brisbane Lions 2018 – A Fans Perspective and The Hodge Effect.