Resurgent Lions dominate Demons at MCG in Neale’s 250th

Oliver Caffrey |

The Brisbane Lions soared at the MCG as they beat Melbourne by 22 points.
The Brisbane Lions soared at the MCG as they beat Melbourne by 22 points.

The resurgent Brisbane Lions have recorded their first home-and-away win at the MCG since 2014 after stunning Melbourne by 22 points.

Heading to the Victorian capital under pressure at 1-3, the ferocious Lions dominated the Demons with a relentless performance in dual Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale’s 250th game on Thursday night.

The despondent Demons were left to reflect on a 22-point loss at the MCG. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Trailing by 43 points at three-quarter-time, Melbourne put through some late goals as Brisbane ran out winners 12.10 (82) to 8.12 (60) to get their season back on track after opening 2024 with three straight defeats.

In their first game at the MCG since losing last year’s grand final to Collingwood, the Lions snapped their infamous losing run at the venue.

Although Brisbane memorably defeated the Demons in the 2022 semi-final, the Lions had not won at the MCG in a home-and-away game since round 21, 2014.

“I reckon our 0-3 was a little bit catastrophised,” Lions coach Chris Fagan said.

“I didn’t think we were that badly out of form.

“I don’t think our group ever lost confidence.

“I didn’t think we were playing that badly, we just lost a few games by not much because we were dropping marks inside-50 and missing shots at goal.”

The tone was set early, with the Lions leading by 14 points at quarter-time after winning the clearances for the term 20-8.

Coming off four-straight wins, Melbourne were unable to handle the Lions’ intensity as the visitors laid 83 tackles to 51.

Former No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner had one of the best outings of his 118-game career, exploding out of the blocks with 12 possessions and six clearances in the first quarter and finished with 25 touches.

Cam Rayner
Cam Rayner (r) excelled for Brisbane. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Brisbane’s forward line is back in sync, with Charlie Cameron returning to form with three goals, while spearheads Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood slotted two each.

Capping off a dirty night for the Demons, they lost versatile defender Christian Salem to a potentially serious hamstring injury.

Salem was helped from the field in the first quarter and replaced by youngster Taj Woewodin.

Melbourne’s three-quarter-time score of 3.7 (25) was their worst at a final break since round 16, 2020 – the COVID-19 affected season when games were shortened.

Demons coach Simon Goodwin described the match as frustrating.

“We just got beaten by a very good team,” he said.

“They beat us in all phases of the game – they were stronger, they were cleaner, they transitioned the ball better and they defended better.

“We’ve acknowledged internally for a few weeks now that we’re probably not playing to the level that we think we’re capable of, so we have got work to do.”

In desperation with the game already lost, superstar Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver was shifted into defence in the last quarter.

Brisbane had the top-four possession winners on the ground, with Jack Viney leading the way for Melbourne with 23.

The Lions will return to the Gabba next Saturday night for a monster clash with Geelong, while Melbourne (4-2) have the bye next week before facing Richmond in round seven.