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2022 Toyota AFL Premiership
Melbourne v Brisbane Lions
Semi Finals •
79 11.13
Kennedy - Official Timekeeper Full Time
92 14.8
Lions Won By 13
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    AFL Live Official App

    Follow every game of the 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership Season and Toyota AFL Finals Series, with access to all the live scores and stats.

    Final teams, subs locked in for Dees-Lions. Follow LIVE from 7.50pm AEST

    Will the Demons continue a march towards a second flag or can the Lions cause an upset and win their first game at the MCG since 2014?

    Keidean Coleman marks the ball ahead of Alex Neal-Bullen during Brisbane's semi-final against Melbourne on September 9, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

    A PRELIMINARY final spot is on the line as reigning premier Melbourne takes on Brisbane in a blockbuster Friday night semi-final clash at the MCG.

    The Lions were dealt a huge blow on Friday morning with Joe Daniher a late withdrawal for the crunch game. Daniher's partner went into labour to give birth to the couple's first child, with the star forward returning to be by her side for the birth.

    Despite a number of injury concerns during the week, the Dees come into the match with an unchanged line-up to the one that was overrun by Sydney in the qualifying final.

    07:31

    However, Brisbane has been forced into four changes.

    Tom Fullarton is Daniher's replacement, while the Lions have also recalled Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth after they missed the elimination final win over Richmond through suspension.

    >> Get all your LIVE scores and stats on the go with the AFL Live Official App
    DEMONS v LIONS Follow it LIVE

    Darcy Fort has returned to the side to replace concussed ruckman Oscar McInerney and Callum Ah Chee also comes into the 22.

    Melbourne v Brisbane at the MCG, 7.50pm AEST

    NO LATE CHANGES

    MEDICAL SUBS
    Melbourne:
    Joel Smith
    Brisbane:
    Rhys Mathieson

    SUMMARY

    Prior to the season some predicted this would be a Grand Final match-up, but after some inconsistency in the second half of 2022 from both teams, Melbourne and Brisbane will square off in a semi-final on Friday night. The Demons are coming off a qualifying final loss to Sydney, while the Lions found some form and shook the finals monkey off their backs with a nail-biting elimination final win over Richmond. Following two thumping victories earlier in the season - by 64 and 58 points respectively – Melbourne will start warm favourite, but there's no room for error now in its premiership defence. The Dees have an injury cloud hanging over superstar Christian Petracca, while the Lions regain suspended duo Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth. Will the Demons continue a march towards a second flag or can the Lions cause an upset and win their first game at the MCG since 2014? Geelong awaits the winner.

    Where and when: MCG, Friday September 9, 7.50pm AEST

    >> DEMONS v LIONS Get your finals tickets NOW

    WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR? 

    Round 15: Melbourne 16.21 (117) def. Brisbane 7.11 (53)

    At the time this was first against second, but after an even opening term, it was one-way traffic. Melbourne kicked six goals to one in the second term and could have won by an even greater margin had it not kicked so inaccurately. Dayne Zorko and Zac Bailey were missing for the Lions with COVID-19, while the Demons were without Max Gawn. Luke Jackson was fantastic in his captain's absence, while Jake Lever dominated in defence and Jack Viney and Christian Petracca around the ball. 

    Round 23: Brisbane 8.9 (57) lost to Melbourne 18.7 (115)

    This final-round contest was billed as one of the matches of the season, with the winner to nail a spot in the top four and the loser consigned to sudden death throughout the finals. It was all over by half-time. Melbourne kicked a goal inside 20 seconds and quietened the sellout Gabba crowd with a frenetic and ruthless brand of football that saw them lead by a whopping 66 points at the main break. Bayley Fritsch and Kysaiah Pickett kicked four goals apiece, while Clayton Oliver was rampant in the midfield with 30 disposals that included 13 clearances.

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR

    Melbourne
    When the Demons struggle, it's usually because their forward line has difficulty kicking goals. Whether that's ball movement or a lack of cohesion inside 50, it's something Simon Goodwin will no doubt address in the build-up to this game. If Petracca is restricted in any way, watch for him to spend more time forward of the ball, while Ben Brown will take confidence from the last time he played the Lions, where he kicked three first-half goals in a decisive outing. After Lachie Neale racked up 39 disposals in a match-winning performance against the Tigers last week, Melbourne would be well advised to send James Harmes to the Brownlow medallist with a tag.

    Ben Brown celebrates a goal during the round 23 clash between Melbourne and Brisbane at the Gabba on August 19, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

    Brisbane
    There are a number of areas Melbourne has dominated in the two matches this season that Brisbane needs to rectify. Firstly, its run from congestion to get to the next contest has been exposed by the Demons, and whether that's slow foot speed or slow reaction time, the Lions must fix it. Secondly, Brisbane's ball movement – it's the second-highest scoring team in the competition – has struggled to challenge Melbourne's defence, with Jake Lever having a field day intercepting in both matches. Watch for the Lions to use shorter targets rather than bombing it long.

    Brisbane players and coach Chris Fagan walk off the field after their defeat in round 23 to Melbourne at The Gabba on August 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

    >>Click HERE to stream Casey Demons v Brisbane Lions VFL Preliminary Final this Saturday

    THE STATS THAT MATTER

    Melbourne
    The Demons' defence has been like a brick wall this season, and particularly frugal against the Lions, conceding just 110 points across two matches. They have given up a mark from less than 15 per cent of opposition inside 50s, which is the best in the competition. And it's easy to see why, with full-back Steven May fresh off a brilliant performance against Sydney, where his 16 intercept possessions were the fourth most by any player this season. Since last season Melbourne has been the best team against Brisbane in both contested possessions and inside 50s – winning that battled by 19 and 9.5 a game, respectively, across four matches.

    Brisbane
    The Lions have been the second-highest scoring team this season, coming on the back of scoring goals from 25.9 per cent of their forward 50 entries, which is the best mark in the competition. Zac Bailey is one of the primary reasons, averaging 1.5 goals a game (34 goals from 22 games) to trail only Tiger Shai Bolton among mid-forwards in the AFL. Brisbane is also the most potent team in the League from stoppages, scoring an average of 38 points a game from that source.

    IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR… 

    Melbourne
    The ruck combination of Max Gawn and Luke Jackson is touted as the best in the competition, but with the Demons' captain spending more time in the forward line recently, Jackson has struggled to make as big of an impact as the main ruck man. Tom Hickey completed outplayed him last Friday night, but the athletic 20-year-old has all the tools to worry Brisbane's Darcy Fort and will be out to recapture his best form.

    Luke Jackson and Daniel McStay compete in the ruck during the R23 clash between Melbourne and Brisbane at the Gabba on August 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

    Brisbane
    After missing last year's finals with a knee injury and last week's elimination final through suspension, Cam Rayner will be busting to have an impact on Friday night. The former No.1 draft pick has always handled himself well on the big stage, and his power and injection of enthusiasm should be a great addition to the Lions' forward and midfield mix. It will also be the first time the Victorian plays a final on the MCG.

    07:13

    PREDICTION

    Melbourne by 18 points. It's hard to imagine Brisbane playing as poorly as it has in the two matches earlier this season, but on that evidence alone, it's equally as difficult to imagine Melbourne being beaten. Its work around stoppages and defensive set-up has stumped the Lions, but expect this to be a much closer contest.

    Roaring Lions send Dees out in straight sets in epic upset

    The Lions stunned the Demons in a huge semi-final upset at the MCG

    Brisbane celebrates its semi-final win over Melbourne on September 9, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

    BRISBANE saw the script, then chose to flip it on its head.

    Trailing by 28 points on Friday night, Chris Fagan's side was facing a third successive belting at the hands of Melbourne, a 12th consecutive defeat at the MCG, and a fourth straight meek finals exit. The narrative was writing itself.

    DEMONS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

    Only this time, the Lions showed the type of resolve capable of turning cubs into contenders. A remarkable second-half fightback resulted in the most hardened and impressive of 13-point semi-final wins, sending Brisbane into a preliminary final against Geelong and bundling reigning premier Melbourne out in straight sets.

    The Lions kicked 12 of the final 17 goals having fallen into their early deficit, with midfield stars Lachie Neale (26 disposals, 10 clearances), Jarrod Berry (26 disposals, eight marks) and Hugh McCluggage (25 disposals, one goal) lifting the side with tough and inspired performances.

    Berry is set to come under scrutiny from the Match Review Officer (MRO) after making contact with Clayton Oliver's face as the pair wrestled.

    LIONS LEARNING Fagan says Brisbane has taken lessons from past finals heartbreak

    With key forward Joe Daniher flying back home earlier in the day to be with his pregnant partner, Eric Hipwood (17 disposals, four goals) filled his void exceptionally and was another Lion instrumental in turning the tide back Brisbane's way throughout its 14.8 (92) to 11.13 (79) win.

    07:53

    Melbourne, having won its first 10 games of the season, couldn't find an answer when it mattered. After breezing through September last year, breaks went against the Demons at crucial points this time around.

    Those decisive moments were littered throughout Friday night's defeat.

    Christian Petracca, limping through a fractured leg and a heavily corked calf, battled bravely to finish with 27 disposals and five clearances. But his impeded efforts were reflective of Melbourne's fading hopes of securing back-to-back flags.

    FIVE TALKING POINTS Lions say hooroo to MCG hoodoo

    The Demons, having secured victories worth 64 and 58 points against the Lions already this season, had followed the same blueprint early.

    They executed the type of clearance and contested domination that had laid the platform for those two wins, in what was an ominous start for the visitors.

    00:46

    Finding itself 23 points up almost instantly, Melbourne enjoyed nine of the first 10 scoring shots and perhaps should have led by more to justify its complete control over the contest. But the hosts kicked just 3.6 to leave the door slightly ajar for Brisbane.

    Encouraged by their opposition's early profligacy, the Lions grabbed a foothold in the contest. They wasted a series of opportunities of their own before Charlie Cameron, who had overcome an early injury scare when he limped off nursing his foot, returned to the field and finally converted to reduce the quarter-time deficit to just 15.

    FROM UNBEATABLE TO INCONCEIVABLE How the Dees slid out of September

    It didn't necessarily provide the visitors with the rush of momentum they might have hoped for, but it at least made the scoreboard manageable for much of the second term. That was until Bayley Fritsch and Kysaiah Pickett kicked back-to-back goals with time ticking away in the half in a bruising body blow for the Lions.

    But, showing the type of dogged determination it had lacked in previous games against Melbourne this year, Brisbane responded to the successive setbacks. Callum Ah Chee nailed a crucial reply as time expired leading into the main break, breathing life into the contest and sparking a red-hot run to begin the second half.

    00:47

    Hipwood delivered a pair of set-shot strikes, Cameron snapped his second and McCluggage unleashed an exhilarating bomb from beyond 50m as the Lions delivered five straight majors to suddenly draw level.

    00:42

    It was the first time since the game's outset where the Demons had found themselves under the cosh, with spot fires developing across the ground for coach Simon Goodwin to extinguish. As the Lions edged closer, Petracca's distinct hobble intensified and forced him to spend extended periods on the bench.

    Fritsch and Alex Neal-Bullen settled some Melbourne nerves, but by that stage Brisbane had found its groove. Darcy Fort, replacing the injured Oscar McInerney, kept his composure before Hipwood's fourth roused the Lions on the stroke of three-quarter time.

    'YOUR VULNERABILITIES FIND YOU' Goodwin vows to fix Dees' deficiencies after straight-sets exit

    The six-goal third term was just the tonic for Brisbane to dispel any doubts as to its premiership credentials. Dan McStay and Zac Bailey kicked truly either side of an Angus Brayshaw goal, before Hipwood's marauding run teed up Cameron to snap his third and seemingly settle the result.

    Harrison Petty and Ed Langdon, two of Melbourne's better performers, did induce a nervous ending when they each hit the target in the dying minutes. But it was a damning Demon night. A pair of brain fades from Jake Lever, first pushing the ball out of bounds and then refusing to give it back, put McStay to the goal line and confirmed their fate once and for all.

    ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS

    MELBOURNE        3.6       6.8      8.11    11.13 (79)
    BRISBANE            1.3       3.4      9.5      14.8 (92)

    GOALS
    Melbourne: 
    Pickett 2, Fritsch 2, Neal-Bullen 2, Langdon 2, Melksham, Brayshaw, Petty
    Brisbane
    : Hipwood 4, Cameron 3, Bailey 2, McStay 2, Ah Chee, McCluggage, Fort

    BEST
    Melbourne: 
    Harmes, Petracca, Petty, Langdon, Oliver, Neal-Bullen
    Brisbane: 
    Hipwood, Neale, McCluggage, Rich, Berry, Coleman, Zorko, Cameron

    INJURIES
    Melbourne: 
    Nil
    Brisbane: Nil

    SUBSTITUTES
    Melbourne: Joel Smith (unused)
    Brisbane: Rhys Mathieson (unused)

    Crowd: 62,162 at the MCG

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