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JUNGLE KINGS by George On The Outer


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The top of the table Brisbane Lions came into their game against Melbourne thinking they were kings of the AFL Jungle.

However, by game’s end they were shown to be toothless, as the rampant Demons gave them a lesson about the exact level you have to be at to justify that mantle. 

The first quarter saw Brisbane squander some easy chances in front of goal, which kept Melbourne within striking distance and, as a result, the Lions led by a mere goal. Of course, it could have been so much different and in addition, they expended a great deal of energy just getting to that point.

The question before the game was how would Melbourne cope without their inspirational captain, Max Gawn in the ruck. What they discovered they had another inspirational captain in Jack Viney who stepped up to the role and then went even further during the game.  Time and time again, he threw himself at man and contest, and time and time again, he came up with the crown of brutal superiority around the ball. By game’s end he had amassed an incredible 34 touches of which 19 were contested possessions.

The second term saw Melbourne slam on six goals, and it could easily have held the Lions scoreless in that stanza, but for a Steven May blunder late in the quarter when he kicked the ball to the opposition to gift them their solitary score in 20 minutes of footy. Still not to worry, he might have been a little rusty but the addition of May to the side was a telling factor in the return of the stingy Melbourne defensive structure. And with May holding down the goalkeeper role, and making Joe Daniher look like a goose that he often emulates with his flopping tactics, the players around him picked up the vibe that has been missing or three weeks. 

Jake Lever returned to his best, and with the freedom from May’s presence, simply intercepted everything that came his way. His 15 intercepts including eight marks broke the hearts of the Brisbane mid-field as they simply could not pass him.

Alongside, Michael Hibberd gave the Brisbane goal-sneak in Charlie Cameron a lesson in how a premiership defensive structure works, by giving him absolutely nothing. As a result Cameron scored nothing himself, while Hibberd racked up 14 disposals and six intercepts.

In the third quarter, the Demons continued their assault, and while only scoring three goals, it should have been more given they also kicked seven minor scores. Once again, the lead was extended with the Lions only producing 2 goals 3 behinds for themselves.

Meanwhile, the big question around the ruck was being emphatically answered by Luke Jackson, who gave away height and weight to McInerney, but his athleticism and second efforts around the ball were more effective than the output from the Brisbane ruck. His 21 disposals and 9 tackles and over 300m gained is not what a ruck normally produces, but his performance simply added to the mid-field dominance of the Demons.

Alongside Jackson was the triumvirate of Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Viney with their relentless approach to the contest, which resulted in 100 disposals among the trio.  No side is capable of withstanding this sort of pressure and output and the Lions wilted even further in the final quarter conceding another five goals to the Demons while only producing a single major yet again.

So in the end, Melbourne ran away with a 64 point win against a team which for a little over a week in time, had claimed top spot.  Once again it put the Demons at the top of the ladder, and silenced the critics who had been all too willing to come up with all sorts of scuttlebutt, innuendo and fanciful claims about the side and the club. The fans came out in droves for a Thursday night game, with 37,000 coming through the gate, which was in sharp contrast to the numbers attending from other bigger membership clubs in recent times.

They were treated to a display that was well worth their while attending mid-week in the middle of a bleak Melbourne winter.

They got to see the Kings of the Jungle show their mettle. 

They got to see what has been showcased as “The Melbourne Way”.

And once again, the other sides in the competition would be just a little more worried about what they could be facing in the second half of the season. 

None more so than the Lions who have to face the Demons again in the final round, knowing what happened to them in this game without Max Gawn and Tom McDonald on the field. 

One thing is for sure today — there is no doubt today about who is King.

MELBOURNE 2.4.16 8.10.58 11.17.83 16.21.117

BRISBANE LIONS 3.4.22 4.4.28 6.7.43 7.11.53

GOALS

MELBOURNE Fritsch 3 Bedford Harmes Jordon Pickett 2 Brown Jackson Neal-Bullen Spargo Sparrow

BRISBANE LIONS Hipwood Robinson 2 Daniher McCarthy Rayner

BEST

MELBOURNE Viney Oliver Lever Jordon Petracca Brayshaw Jackson

BRISBANE LIONS Coleman McCluggage Rich Rayner

INJURIES

MELBOURNE Nil

BRISBANE LIONS Andrews (shoulder) Lyons (sternum)

REPORTS

MELBOURNE Nil

BRISBANE LIONS Nil

SUBSTITUTES

MELBOURNE Jayden Hunt (unused)

BRISBANE LIONS Callum Ah Chee (replaced Jarryd Lyons in the last quarter

UMPIRES Nick Foot Brendan Hosking Simon Meredith

CROWD 37,728 at the MCG

ReportRd152022.png

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