By Myles Stedman (NEAFL Media)
The Brisbane Lions have ended a horror month-and-a-half of football, winning for the first time in six games with a close 11-point victory over Sydney University at Blacktown.
Brisbane prevailed 12.14 (86) to 9.21 (75) on a day where the game remained close for the majority, but neither team was able to show the high-end skills and polish we’ve come to know them for.
Both teams’ lack of refinement showed straight from the outset, the Students beginning the day an ominous 4.4 from 10 scoring shots in the first quarter to their opponents’ 1.4.
The hosts could be thankful for the presence of NEAFL veterans Jack Hiscox and Austin Lucy, the pair combining for two of their team’s three first quarter goals.
The Lions had their own scoring struggles, misfiring on multiple set shots to wind up with just one major for the term.
The visiting team began to climb their way back into the game in the second quarter with the help of Tom Fullarton, the former Australian basketball representative registering his first two NEAFL goals to kickstart a rally for the Lions.
Connor McFayden also stood out in the Brisbane forwardline, his two second quarter goals and furious defensive pressure sending the Queenslanders into the break trailing by just three points.
The football post the break saw both teams opt for a more defensive mindset with goals hard to come by.
Jacob Derickx’s failure to take two gift-wrapped chances cost his team dearly, the Lions responding with three easy goals of their own and a 14-point lead at the last change.
Brisbane lost last week when entering the final quarter up 14 points, and that looked to be the developing narrative again this week at Blacktown.
The Students created a swag of chances to open the last stanza, but inaccuracy again cost them, 1.8 in the first 20 minutes leaving them four points short of their opponents going into the final stages of the game.
Those misses proved costly, McFayden and Toby Wooller goaling to extend their team’s lead to a game-winning 11-point margin, sealing their club’s first win since May.
“We’re happy that we got the win, there’s still a lot of things we’ve got to work on as a group, in all we’re really pleased with how we fought it out, especially on the back of a poor start again,” Lions coach Mitch Hahn told neafl.com.au.
“It’s a real credit to the players, we were two rotations behind Uni, and ours guys were starting to get a little tired and cramping up, so for the guys to be able to fight it out for the full four quarters, we were really pleased with that effort.
“If you ask what the difference is between this week and last week, I’d say we started to use the ball a little better under fatigue, we took our 30 seconds for shots, and we had really good buy-in that helped us win the game.”
Despite his team’s loss, Students coach Tom Morrison was pleased with the football he saw, highlighting his emphasis on process over product.
“If you don’t make your shots, you put yourself in a vulnerable position to lose a game you otherwise should’ve won,” he said.
“I thought we moved the ball really well at times, I thought we defended hard, I thought our work around the contests was really good.
“I was really happy with the response from the players, because we’ve had a few of weeks where we weren’t so good, and I thought that was good footy today, you’ve just got to take the opportunities.”
Sydney University travel to Queensland next week to take on Southport in a blockbuster at Fankhauser Reserve, while Brisbane faces the GIANTS at the Gabba.
Sydney University v Brisbane at BISP
BRISBANE 1.4 7.4 10.9 12.14 (86)
SYDNEY UNI 4.4 7.7 7.13 9.21 (75)
GOALS – Brisbane: C McFadyen 3 T Fullarton 2 B Sloan J Allison Z Bailey C Ballenden R Bewick T Wooller B Keays. Sydney Uni: A Lucy 3 L Stevenson 2 J Potter T Young J Hiscox D Bonney.
BEST – Brisbane: B Keays R Bastinac T Wooller J Allison L Dawson B Sloan. Sydney Uni: L Stevenson T Barton R Hebron W Sierakowski N Reinhard N Foster.