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Hot Suns fry Lions

GCFC v BL: Match Summary Watch a match summary of the clash between the Gold Coast and the Brisbane Lions from Round 7 of the AFL Premiership.
Gold Coast's first gamer Tom Lynch marks strongly in front of Brisbane Lion Matthew Leuenberger during the 'QClash'.

JARED Brennan has come back to the Gabba to the lead Gold Coast to an eight-point victory in a pulsating first edition of the Queensland Clash on Saturday night.

Brennan, who was called a "mercenary" by former Lions teammate Simon Black earlier in the week, won the Marcus Ashcroft Medal for best afield in the 18.16 (124) to 17.14 (116).

He was outstanding from the opening term and ended the match with 30 possessions, including a game-high 14 clearances to silence the boos he received from parts of the Gabba crowd.

Brennan said of the post-game celebrations: "It was great, possibly not as over the top as the Port Adelaide game, but it was still great."

The loss leaves the Lions with a 0-6 start - their worst since winning the wooden spoon in 1998 - and gives the Suns a second victory after defeating Port Adelaide two weeks ago.

The Suns had to withstand a final-quarter fightback from the Lions who trailed by 19 points at the last change. The Lions levelled the scores courtesy of a brilliant Todd Banfield goal with six minutes remaining.

Banfield met a long Jed Adcock kick at top pace, 35m out from goal, scooped up the half-volley and swung on to his left boot to kick truly.

But Nathan Krakouer's spectacular pack mark - in which he jumped over Joel Patfull - and fifth goal gave the Suns a seven-point lead they would not relinquish.

In a match of high drama, Brisbane Lion Andrew Raines was taken off with concussion in the third quarter after an accidental elbow from David Swallow, and Brennan (shoulder), Simon Black (ankle) and Gary Ablett (ribs) carried injuries for much of the match.

Brennan went to the change rooms for treatment for much of the third quarter.

There was also a goal-umpiring controversy in the second quarter when the Suns' Matt Shaw clearly hit the post with his effort from 50 metres out and despite the goal umpire, field umpire and boundary umpire conferring, they still awarded the goal.

But the Suns deserved the win after smashing the Lions in the clearances (60-30) and inside 50s (62-45).

Led by Brennan's brilliance in tight, the Suns won the clearance battle with Michael Rischitelli (eight) and David Swallow (eight) also important in the clinches.

Rischitelli's 11 touches in the final quarter, to give him 29 for match, were crucial in steadying the ship.

For the Lions, Ashley McGrath was swung forward in the second half by Michael Voss and booted six goals to bring the his team back to life.

Voss tried regular fullback Daniel Merrett in the forward line in the first half, but he had no impact, largely because the ball was at the other end. McGrath moved to the forward line in the second half.

Daniel Rich played one of his best game's for the club, kicking three goals in the first half to keep the Lions in touch, and racking up 26 possessions and five clearances in all.

Influential players
Jared Brennan was clearly the best player on ground and thoroughly deserved the Marcus Ashcroft Medal. From the moment he took a pack mark and kicked the Suns' second goal of the match among a chorus of boos from Lions supporters, he never looked back. The former Lion was everywhere, winning 14 clearances and taking seven marks, including three contested, to go with his 30 possessions.

At times Daniel Rich was playing a lone hand for the Lions. In the first half when the home team was struggling to score, the classy left footer kicked three goals.

In the second half, he began finding more ball and set up the Lions' first two goals of the last quarter to Jed Adcock and James Polkinghorne with strong clearances and handballs, keeping them in the contest. He finished with 26 touches and five clearances.

What it means
For the Suns it means far more than a win, it means bragging rights in Queensland. After last week's humiliation against Essendon, Guy McKenna's young team have shown they have the fortitude to belong at the elite level. You would have got long odds at the start of the season if you thought Gold Coast would be two wins clear of their nearest neighbours after seven rounds.

The Brisbane Lions have now lost six straight and coach Michael Voss will start feeling the heat this week. They seemed flat in the first half which was hard to believe considering the verbal jousting that preceded the first QClash. They are struggling to take a mark in the forward 50 and will be counting down the days to Jonathan Brown's return from facial fracture injuries.

The next four
Gold Coast:
Adelaide (AAMI Stadium); bye; Geelong (Metricon Stadium); West Coast (Patersons Stadium)

Brisbane Lions: Essendon (Gabba); North Melbourne (Gabba); Adelaide (AAMI Stadium); Sydney Swans (Gabba)

Dream Team highlight
Gold Coast:
Not surprisingly Brennan led the way with 132 points, closely followed by Dream Team favourite Michael Rischitelli (131). The real value of the night came from Tom Lynch, who at just $120,500 racked up 95 points and could be worth a trade in the near future.

Brisbane Lions: Daniel Rich was a runaway winner for the Lions with 129 points, and at the relatively cheap $296,000 still offers some value. Matthew Leuenberger was the only other Lion to top the ton with 110.

Talking point
The possible use of goal umpiring technology is sure to be in the news again this week after a second-quarter blunder on Saturday night. The Suns' Matt Shaw had a set shot from 50m out and the ball clearly deflected off the left hand post. The goal umpire was about to award the goal before the boundary umpire and field umpire came over to confer. They went with the original decision - although it was the wrong one.

New faces
With Sam Day, Tom Lynch and Joey Daye, the Suns had three new faces on show on Saturday night. Although Day was taken at No.3 in last year's National Draft, the most impressive of the trio was undoubtedly Lynch. The 199cm, 91kg forward was a handful for the Lions' defence with strong, overhead marking. He finished with 17 possessions, a team-high nine marks and two goals.

Gold Coast:            6.3  10.8  13.13  18.16 (124)
Brisbane Lions:      3.2  6.5    11.7    17.14 (116)

GOALS
Gold Coast: Krakouer 5, Matera 2, Patrick 2, Lynch 2, Stanley, Shaw, McKenzie, Iles, Harris, Daye, Brennan
Brisbane Lions: McGrath 6, Rich 3, Banfield 2, Clark 2, Polkinghorne, Black, Beams, Adcock

BEST
Gold Coast: Brennan, Krakouer, Smith, Rischitelli, Ablett, Harris
Brisbane Lions: Rich, Black, McGrath, Leuenberger, Hanley

INJURIES
Gold Coast: Gorringe (hamstring)
Brisbane Lions: Raines (concussion)

SUBSTITUTES

Gold Coast: Daniel Gorringe (hamstring) replaced by Josh Toy in the first quarter
Brisbane: Andrew Raines replaced by Jesse O'Brien in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Jennings, Ryan, McInerney

Official crowd: 25,504 at the Gabba

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of the clubs or the AFL