Lions show pride, maul Roos for first AFL win

Roger Vaughan |

Eric Hipwood takes the congratulations after a return to form in Brisbane’s big win.
Eric Hipwood takes the congratulations after a return to form in Brisbane’s big win.

The Brisbane Lions have displayed their pride and ferocity, showing North Melbourne no mercy within the narrow confines of Norwood Oval.

A seven-goal first quarter meant a quick AFL kill as the Lions enjoyed a 16.16 (112) to 6.6 (42) cakewalk for their first win of the season.

Aside from their worrying 0-3 start, last year’s losing grand finalists also endured a torrid week of media scrutiny following reports an off-season trip to the United States had created internal ructions.

Friday’s twilight Gather Round thrashing was a big statement, with coach Chris Fagan pointed after his side’s powerful performance.

“Our players showed their togetherness today, their energy and their brotherhood, which has been a real big part of our trademark at the club since I’ve been there,” he said.

“We were very determined today to show the footy world that we are a united group.

“Never in doubt, but sometimes you have to show it.

“People who want to talk about those things, they’ll maybe stop for a little while, anyway.”

Dual Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale set the tone, overcoming an ankle injury to rack up 14 possessions in the opening term.

The Lions took him off in the last quarter as a precaution, with a six-day break before their massive clash against Melbourne at the MCG.

While Neale played like he had his own football, key forwards Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood responded to a week of scrutiny over their on-field form with big games.

Daniher kicked 5.4 and Hipwood, who looked low on confidence early against North, contributed three goals and a last-term candidate for mark of the year.

Joe Daniher marks the ball for the Brisbane Lions.
Joe Daniher led the way in the Lions’ mauling of North Melbourne. (Michael Errey/AAP PHOTOS)

Fagan said he felt Brisbane had been low on energy during their first three games – picking out the little things, such as teammates congratulating each other whenever possible.

That drive was back with a vengeance against North, personified by small forward Charlie Cameron.

While not among the Lions’ best players, Cameron’s voice and animated behaviour was noticeable throughout the game.

The best part for Fagan was that North were restricted to just 12 scoring shots – a glowing endorsement of Brisbane’s defence.

North coach Alastair Clarkson noted his club is where the Lions were six or seven years ago, when Fagan went there.

He was pleased they did not drop their heads in the second half, but ultimately they were outclassed by a better team.

“We were hoping like hell that the scratchy Brisbane were going to turn up – they were terrific early,” Clarkson said.

“It probably showed the gap between a really, really experienced and accomplished midfield that’s played a lot of footy together, versus ours. 

North may well request another opponent for Gather Round next year – the Lions smacked them by 75 points last year at Mt Barker.

Young gun Harry Sheezel was best for the Kangaroos off halfback and the wing, while ruckman Tristan Xerri also impressed.

AAP