Is Lachie Neale the number one midfielder in the AFL?
It’s not called knee-jerk reaction for nothing. After being one of the big reasons behind the Lions rise last year, Lachie Neale has continued his fine run of form in 2020. The leading possession winner on the ground against the Eagles, he is looming as a genuine Brownlow contender.
The Lions had to pay a high price to extract Neale from the Dockers but despite this he is starting to look like a bargain buy.
How the game was won.
Without Dayne Zorko and Stefan Martin, the Lions struggled in a dour first half. Yet with neither team able to thrive in the conditions, the margin was just four points at the long break.
Ultimately it would be a controversial free kick and goal that saw the flood gates open in the second half. Jarrod Berry would be the beneficiary, kicking one of his three goals for the night as result of the free kick. Oscar McInernery and Dan McStay would take big grabs and kick goals to compound the advantage and help Brisbane to a 17-point lead at the final change.
With three goals to one in the final term, the Lions eased away to a 30-point victory. Lachie Neale (32 disposals and two goals), Hugh McCluggage (26), Jarryd Lyons (25) and Jarrod Berry (three goals) were the stars for Brisbane. For the Eagles, Nic Natanui, Andrew Gaff and Liam Ryan never stopped trying.
What the coaches said.
Chris Fagan said it was “incredibly pleasing” to win despite missing star players. “I thought it was a really good four quarter performance. West Coast came out to play tonight. We eventually wore them down with our persistence,’’ he said.
“I thought our willingness to fight to win the contested ball and our willingness to put pressure on them all night long…was exceptional. We kept our work rate all night long and in the end we got rewarded. We felt that last week (against Fremantle) we had too many players that were below par. Half our group was and we were fortunate to escape with a win but tonight was a really good all-round team effort.’’
Adam Simpson refused to blame their Gold Coast hub for his team’s performance. “It’s just not good enough at the moment. It was a grind game and we didn’t do it for long enough,’’ he said. “We are disappointed we didn’t win. Effort and intent was there. We had to adjust a few things, to the conditions…but we got overawed in the midfield, beaten in the contest and the game got away from us halfway through the third.”
“We haven’t adapted well enough up here at the moment and that’s what we’ve got to work through. We are all in this together and we’ll keep fighting. We are trying to be pretty pragmatic with it. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves…it feels like it’s been such a long season but it’s technically Round 3. We haven’t come back from the 10 weeks off as well as we would have liked.’
BRISBANE 1.2 2.6 7.9 10.14 (74)
WEST COAST 2.1 3.4 5.4 6.8 (44)
Brisbane: J.Berry 3, Neale 2, Starcevich, Cameron, McInerney, McStay, Bailey
West Coast: Ryan 3, Darling, Naitanui, Kennedy,
Brisbane: Neale, McCluggage, J.Berry, Lyons, Starcevich
West Coast: Naitanui, Gaff, Ryan
Brisbane: Dayne Zorko (Achilles soreness) replaced in selected side by Cam Ellis-Yolmen
West Coast: Nil