Neale prolific as Lions see off Crows for five in a row

Murray Wenzel |

Lachie Neale (centre) had 36 disposals and three goals in the Lions’ victory over the Crows.
Lachie Neale (centre) had 36 disposals and three goals in the Lions’ victory over the Crows.

The Brisbane Lions are back within one win of the AFL’s top four after a fifth straight victory, Lachie Neale doing it all in an 11-point defeat of Adelaide.

The hosts’ 14.13 (97) to 13.8 (86) Sunday-night Gabba victory was powered by a club-best three first-half goals to midfielder Neale (36 disposals, 10 clearances, three score assists). 

Former Lion Ben Keays had a career-high four goals for the Crows, who just wouldn’t go away, two quick Darcy Fogarty goals giving the visitors a huge sniff in the final four minutes.

Some costly unforced errors didn’t help, Brisbane defying sloppiness of their own to sneak home after a draw earlier this year at the Adelaide Oval and a six-point win at the Gabba last season. 

“We probably butchered a few opportunities that made the margin closer … but in a season where anything can happen we’ll keep taking the four points,” Lions coach Chris Fagan said.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said the Lions made plenty of mistakes in the 11-point win. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

“We just mucked up a lot of opportunities.”

Josh Dunkley (33 disposals, one goal) was quality support for Neale, victory pushing the Lions up to seventh, just four points behind fourth-placed Essendon.

The Crows remain 15th, more than three wins outside the top eight.

“We’ve had some tight games (against Brisbane), but tonight they controlled it,” Crows coach Matthew Nicks said. 

“We hung around and could have made it more interesting than what we did, just didn’t execute late.

“But that’s not the difference … Dunkley and Neale racked up 50 possessions and four goals and we were unable to stop it.”

The visitors have other issues too, with star Izak Rankine to come under scrutiny for an off-the-ball bump that flattened Brandon Starcevich.

Brisbane's Brandon Starcevich.
Brisbane’s Brandon Starcevich was taken from the field after an off-the-ball bump. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

The defender failed his head injury assessment test and was ruled out at quarter-time.

“The judiciary will have a look at that I’ve got no doubt, and judging by crowd reaction it can’t have been all that good,” Fagan said.

Rankine played the villain after that, shooshing the crowd when he launched a goal from the pocket before half-time.

The margin was just eight points when Jake Soligo’s bomb from 50m sailed through, Rankine kicking another after the Lions had pushed clear again.

Charlie Cameron, playing on despite a heavy crash landing in the third quarter, offset a wayward night with the boot to kick a timely major, only to see Taylor Walker (two goals) boot another at the opposite end.

Rankine chased down Darcy Wilmot to add to his highlight reel, but the Crows could only hand it straight back – a bad habit that seemed to dog them throughout the evening.

Cameron’s second goal, a confident snap from a set shot, looked to pull the cord from the Crows, before Fogarty’s double ensured another tense finish.