Lachine Neale of the Lions and Ed Curnow of the Blues wrestle.
Lachine Neale of the Lions and Ed Curnow of the Blues wrestle.

If Brisbane Lions miss finals, blame this man

If Brisbane is watching the first week of the finals instead of playing in them today's shock 15-point loss to Carlton is the game the Lions will look back on with a sick feeling in their stomach.

And the man they they'll blame is Essendon's Dylan Clarke.

Clark poked the bear last week and today that bear, Carlton gun Patrick Cripps, ripped Brisbane to shreds.

The Blues conceded the first six goals of the game before Cripps inspired a stunning comeback to lead his side to an 11.12 (78) to 9.9 (63) win.

Playing in just his second AFL game last week, Clarke held Cripps to just 11 possessions in Carlton's 41-point loss, his lowest tally since 2017.

That was never going to sit well with the Blues' champ.

Some may say the Blues' board's decision to part company with coach Brendon Bolton played a major role as the side delivered the almost standard post sacking performance spike.

But it was Cripps' 38 possession, eight-clearance and four-goal performance that downed Brisbane, and quite possibly sunk their finals hopes in the process.

Brisbane had led 40-3 after a dominant opening quarter and Lachie Neale was on his way to another three Brownlow votes before Cripps roared to life.

Lions coach Chris Fagan was in awe of the Carlton skipper's performance but said the Blues midfield collectively had outplayed Brisbane's.

"The bottom line reason why we lost the game is that they won the clearances and they won the contested ball handsomely,'' he said.

"They deserved to have their victory and overall today, bar from about 25 minutes, it was a disappointing performance from us.

Dayne Zorko gets a kick away under pressure from Nic Newman. Picture: Michael Klein
Dayne Zorko gets a kick away under pressure from Nic Newman. Picture: Michael Klein


"They out-hunted us, they were more desperate than what we were.

"Our midfield has been fantastic this year but today they lowered their colours.''

The Lions are still in the eight as they enter the bye, but the lack of a win outside of Queensland since Round 2 is becoming cause for concern.

Fagan said while the Lions looked like they had shown no improvement since last year on the basis of that performance, it was just a poor day and he was happy with the side's progress.

"I will point out one thing, this time last year we were one win and 11 losses,'' he said.

"We are seven wins and five losses and we are a much more competitive team, today we had a bad day.''

Ed Curnow (30 disposals, eight clearances) was also influential in the midfield and helped to quell the influence of Neale in the second half.

Neale had 24 possessions at the main break and just seven more for the rest of the game.

"Lachie is not a one-man band in our midfield he still ended with 30-odd touches, he just needed a few of his mates to have a better day,'' Fagan said.

News Corp Australia

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