Lions coach backs teen after costly miss
CHRIS Fagan has backed distraught teen Cam Rayner to be the hero many more times than the villain in his Lions career after he missed the simple shot that would have given Brisbane a stunning victory over the Kangaroos.
Rayner rushed into an around-the-corner set shot from 30 metres out and a slight angle with just 38 seconds remaining that would have put the Lions in front for the first time all day and pushed it wide.
The miss allowed the Kangaroos to hang on for a three-point victory on Saturday.
Lions coach Fagan and a horde of his players consoled the No.1 draft pick as he trudged off the Gabba with tears in his eyes.
Just under five minutes earlier he had been the hero after kicking the goal to bring the Lions to within four points and the 18,395 strong Gabba crowd alive.
"He is upset about it, which is natural enough,'' he said.
"But I was pretty glad he had the ball in his hands in the dying stages to win a game of footy and as a lot of our younger players did they stood up.
"I'm sure Cam Rayner in his career at this footy club will make up for that one over and over again.
"We will just wrap our arms around celebrate the fact that he is at our club and know he is going to be a great player going forward.''
It was another heartbreaking loss by under a kick following five-point defeats to Adelaide, Gold Coast and Port Adelaide and a seven point loss to Collingwood.
The Kangaroos led by 24 points early in the last quarter but had to withstand a brave Lions fightback to record a 16.11 (107) to 16.8 (104) victory that keeps them well and truly in the finals hunt with only inferior percentage separating them from the eighth placed Cats.
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott conceded he was relieved his side had hung on.
"I saw Chris Fagan after the game and he was very gracious in defeat as he always is but soon I expect he will be humble in victory,'' he said.
"I said to him he has done a great job because they had a lot of players who had shown capability but now they are just good players and Brisbane are now just a good team.''
Kangaroos skipper Jack Ziebell starred with three goals while Trent Dumont stepped up in the absence of star midfielder Shaun Higgins.
Harris Andrews bounced back to his All Australia form keeping Coleman Medal leader Ben Brown to one goal.
Skipper Dayne Zorko led the way while second year duo Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage were again brilliant for the Lions.
BRISBANE 6.0 9.2 13.4 16.8 (104)
NORTH MELBOURNE 5.1 12.6 14.9 16.11 (107)
Lions: McCluggage 3, Rayner 2, Robinson 2, Mathieson 2, McInerney 2, Zorko 2, Hipwood, Taylor, Christensen
Kangaroos: Ziebell 3, Walker 2, Atley 2, Waite 2, Turner 2, Cunnington, Hrovat, Wood, Simpkin, Brown
Lions: McCluggage, Berry, Andrews, Zorko, Christensen, Beams
Kangaroos: Ziebell, Daw, Dummont, Anderson, Turner, Simpkin
Umpires: Brown, Chamberlain, Pannell
Official crowd: 18,395 at the Gabba