Highlights: Brisbane Lions v St Kilda
The Lions and Saints clash in round 19
Daniel Rich kicked three goals from 60m plus
THE BRISBANE Lions have played out an often fiery and exciting win against St Kilda at the Gabba on Saturday night, keeping their finals hopes flickering ever so slightly.
A close contest for the first three quarters blew out slightly in the last, as the Lions kicked four goals to two, eventually running away to a 16.12 (108) to 11.11 (77) win.
Lions co-captain and premiership great Jonathan Brown cut a forlorn figure as he was subbed out in the first quarter after tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot just 14 minutes into play.
The injury makes it near impossible for the Brisbane co-captain to play again this season, with just four rounds left.
Off-contract at the end of the year and already wary about committing to a 15th season, Brown's future is now under a serious cloud.
It would be a sad way for the 31-year-old power forward's glittering career to end after 245 games, 573 goals, three premierships and two All Australian selections.
"They're not the world's worst injury, but we'll just have to wait and see just how long that's going to leave him out for. I haven't speculated all year so I'm not about to now," Voss said.
Tom Rockliff was a dominant presence with a match-high 39 disposals, while ruckman Matthew Leuenberger also starred and Joel Patfull tormented Nick Riewoldt.
Voss said he was pleased to see his young midfield continue to develop in the absence of injured duo Simon Black (groin) and Brent Moloney (soreness).
"There are some pleasing signs for the group. We've just got to string it together a bit longer, maybe a bit tidier," he said.
"We've been about creating opportunities all year and we've backed in players to build our flexibility and that seems to be coming along all right. To see some of our younger group step up … is pleasing."
Down by four goals at half-time, the Saints made a third-quarter revival to get within 13 points just before the last change as Leigh Montagna and Nick Dal Santo came to the fore.
But the home side kicked clear in the final term, with former Saint Matt Maguire relishing a move up forward to slot his first goal in seven years to the delight of the 19,856-strong crowd.
Lions midfielder Daniel Rich kicked three 60m-plus goals in the first half in a fine response to his quiet game in last week's loss to Port Adelaide, while Brent Staker also finished with three majors in his 150th match.
There was controversy before the first siren with Saints forward Ahmed Saad, only added as an emergency on Friday afternoon, named as a late inclusion.
Under investigation by the AFL after providing an irregular drug sample last month, Saad had two goals from his first two kicks but only had one more kick for the match.
The 23-year old came in as an emergency after Trent Dennis-Lane was mysteriously scratched, and then included in the Saints' final team when Jack Newnes was ruled out by illness.
He said the Saints battled hard, but had clear deficiencies that needed attending.
"Ultimately we still don't have … depth through our midfield and the ability to sustain the type of running pressure you need at this level," Watters said.
"We know we need key defenders on our list and we know we need to increase the class and depth of our midfield, but in the meantime we'll continue to expose the likes of Tom Curren, Josh Saunders etcetera to midfield opportunities.
"There's a lot to be gained out of the last four games."
The Lions travel to the MCG next week to face off against the red-hot Richmond, while the Saints have the even less attractive task of taking on Hawthorn on the rebound at Etihad Stadium.
Daniel Merrett kicked three goals up forward for the Lions. Picture: AFL Media
BRISBANE LIONS 3.3 9.3 12.9 16.12 (108)
ST KILDA 2.2 5.3 9.9 11.11 (77)
Brisbane Lions: Merrett 3, Rich 3, Staker 3, Hanley 2, Green, O'Brien, Zorko, Docherty, Maguire
St Kilda: Riewoldt 2, Saad 2, Lee 2, Montagna 2, Steven, Milne, Dal Santo
Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Patfull, Hanley, Redden, Rich, Leuenberger, Merrett
St Kilda: Montagna, Dal Santo, Hayes, Armitage, Steven
Brisbane Lions: Brown (foot)
St Kilda: Newnes (illness) replaced in selected side by Saad; Stanley (collarbone)
Brisbane Lions: Rohan Bewick replaced Jonathan Brown in the first quarter
Adelaide: Arryn Siposs replaced Rhys Stanley at half-time
Umpires: Burgess, Findlay, Fisher
Official crowd: 19,856 at the Gabba