Lethal Lions leave Roos winless
Football's greatest easy beat has suddenly turned into a lethal weapon.
Chris Fagan's Brisbane consigned North Melbourne to a 0-2 start to the season on Sunday with a win that turns established order on its head.
They did it with a midfield of depth and talent, a freakish four-goal matchwinner in Charlie Cameron and a 205cm marking beast in Oscar McInerney.
In the process a team that has won just 24 games in the past five seasons - two less even than hapless Carlton - showed they have become this fixture's most dangerous floater.
At times the Lions attempted to throw away this game, despite a 66-43 inside-50 imbalance and most of the game's better performers.
Enter Cameron, well held by Marley Williams for most of the day, who bobbed up with a pair of late goals to settle Brisbane and seal a 20-point win.
Brisbane has started the past five seasons 0-8 (2018), 1-9, (2017), 1-15 (2016), 0-5 (2015) and 0-5 (2014).
Now after knocking off reigning premiers West Coast and marching into Melbourne to wrest the four points off North Melbourne, Fagan has a side of serious talent on his hands.
The Lions haven't missed a beat in the midfield despite Dayne Beams' loss, with Neale racking up 72 touches in a fortnight and Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage his willing accomplices.
Cam Rayner and Cameron might turn into the game's best pair of half forwards, while Lincoln McCarthy bobbed up with two critical late goals.
North Melbourne might have started the season with a winless fortnight, but at least their band of recruits began to fulfil their end of the bargain.
Aaron Hall's silky goal assists to Jack Ziebell and first-gamer Tarryn Thomas smacked of class, while Jared Polec's two-goal, 23-possession game was spoiled only by a late holding-the-ball decision close to goal.
The Roos will take on Hawthorn next week hoping to get their first win on the board and keep within reach of the finals contenders.
"We had ourselves in a winning position for most of the game but the game has changed," North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said.
"It's a different game. Last year on average both teams could expect to score nine points from centre bounces.
"Today we lost centre bounces 20-10 and that's bad enough, but they scored 43 points from those centre bounces and we scored only 14 points.
"It matters more than it has mattered in the history of footy.
"We had some really good elements of the game and particularly improvements from last week but I thought if we had won the game by 20 points, we would be talking about a lot of positives from today."
Jack Ziebell was mostly well held by Luke Hodge playing as a permanent forward, with the Roos brains trust still considering where to deploy him the premium on centre square stars.
"He is very much in that mix, we have to keep working on what that mix looks like," Scott said.
FIX THE 50S
The sight of Ben Brown receiving a 50m penalty then comically banging into Harris Andrews in an attempt to double the penalty was frankly ridiculous.
As it turned out Brown went back to the scene of the crime with his run-up then missed the set shot.
But just as an umpire called play on when Jarrad McVeigh attempted to milk another 50m penalty, Brown should have been forced into a shot on the run.
The rule attempts to clear out play so the man with the football can play on from the 50m penalty but the rule of unintended consequences makes players look like dills.
THE BIG O RISES
We have heard so much about the gifts of Eric Hipwood but 205cm cult hero Oscar McInerney showed he has so much more to him than cult hero.
The lumbering ruckman turned Mason Cox with a trio of huge contested marks in the third quarter, nailing two set shots before hitting the post with his third.
It allowed Hipwood to push up the ground and finish a pulsating end-to-end chain, dragging the margin back to three points with a booming 65m shot on the run.
BEWARE THE VETERAN
The purists wanting one-on-on match-ups dined out on the Luke Hodge-Jack Ziebell match-up that lasted for four quarters.
Hodge said in the pre-season was to be booted out of the Lions side this year because it would show the club's depth.
Pull the other one, Hodgey.
Through wily body position and his football smarts he kept Ziebell from having any meaningful effect until the last term.
Then Ziebell found a way to get loose and set up Ben Cunnington's goal then mark strongly to put the Roos 10 points up with the resultant goal.