Lyons-hearted Lions break Roo hearts
Go Lyons, Brisbane's Lyons.
Super recruit Jarryd Lyons is closing in on midfield maestro Lachie Neale in both the club championship voting and the title of pick-up of the year after a starring role in Brisbane's pulsating 12-point win over North Melbourne at the Gabba.
The lead changed hands four times in the final quarter before 'The Big O' Oscar McInerney broke the hearts of a gutsy Roos side when he converted a controversial free kick to give the Lions a one-goal lead.
Then Hugh McCluggage drilled one after the siren, also from a free kick, to seal the 12.15 (87) to 12.3 (75) result and secure Brisbane second spot on the AFL ladder.
It had been a quiet and nervous Gabba crowd for much of the night, but 200-game milestone man Daniel Rich ensured just about every one of 23,833-strong crowd leapt to their feet when he bombed a set shot from just outside 50m with six minutes to go to.
It would have been the perfect end for Lions' fans, had the only man in this side to have played a final for the club kicked the sealer to mark his achievement.
But this game - probably the best seen here this year - had a few more twists to go.
Lyons was clearly the best on ground gathering 30 possessions, 13 clearances and capping it off by kicking a goal that put Brisbane in front early in the final quarter.
It completed a brilliant past month for the former Sun, who has been one of the premier midfielders in the competition during that time.
And it may not be long before there are two Lyons on the Lions, with his brother Corey banging on the door to join him after 42 touches in their NEAFL win over the Suns.
The theme of the past two week's victories has been breaking long-standing droughts - they had never won at Sydney Showgrounds or the Adelaide Oval.
Against St Kilda and Melbourne in the weeks prior to that it was winning when they should.
The Roos clash was a game when they rode the bumps - in Neale's case, literally - and eventually worked their way to the lead through weight of possession and by winning the territory battle.
The Roos followed Port Adelaide's tactics on Neale in the opening quarter with Jed Anderson and Jy Simpkin both knocking him to the ground. However, it cooled off once the Lions were awarded a down-the-field free kick.
The Roos were deadly early, owing mostly to superb conversion rate in front of goal.
They kicked 8.2 in the opening half to go into the main break with a 19-point lead.
It was the third quarter where the game was decided.
The Lions kept the Roos scoreless.
Defensive general Luke Hodge praised Rich for his service to the club.
"Everyone got around Richy - he hasn't had a milestone game where he's had a win so for what that bloke's done for the club, to get up and have a win for him is just a great result," Hodge said.
Hodge said the Lions, now second and all but assured of a finals berth, would not be getting ahead of themselves after perhaps taking a sip of their own bathwater in a loss to Carlton in Round 12.
"We probably looked a little too far ahead of ourselves earlier in the year and we got done against Carlton - they embarrassed us down there, they played too good for us," Hodge said.
"This season is so up and down, we don't know who's going to win each week.
"The good thing about this young team is that they're focused on what they have to do right now, they're not worried about what's going to happen in the future."
BRISBANE 1.4 4.7 7.12 12.15 (87)
NORTH MELBOURNE 5.0 8.2 8.2 12.3 (75)
Lions: Christensen 3, Lyons 2, Cameron 2, McInerney 2, McCluggage, Rich, McCarthy
Roos: Brown 3, Wood 2, Larkey 2, Thomas 2, Higgins, Cunnington, Polec
ANDREW HAMILTON'S BEST
Lions: Lyons, Neale, Hodge, Zorko, Answerth, Gardiner
Roos: Cunnington, Higgins, Anderson, Polec, Brown, Goldstein
ANDREW HAMILTON'S VOTES
3 - Jarryd Lyons (BRI)
2 - Ben Cunnington (NM)
1 - Lachie Neale (BRI)
Umpires: Fisher, Stevic, Stephens
Official crowd: 23,833 at the Gabba