Dayne Zorko and Darcy Fort celebrate a goal in the round two clash between Brisbane and Melbourne at the Gabba on March 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

ON A WILD Friday night when a power outage plunged the Gabba into darkness and halted play for almost 40 minutes, Brisbane bounced back from its opening round loss to defeat Melbourne by 11 points.

With the Lions surging towards victory and holding a 40-point advantage midway through the final quarter, power to the whole stadium was cut, pitching the players into darkness and the stadium into chaos.

In scenes reminiscent of the infamous St Kilda-Essendon power outage at Waverley Park in 1996, players and officials were forced to leave the ground.


When they returned 38 minutes later to play the match out, the tide completely turned with Melbourne kicking five unanswered goals to give the hosts a scare, but it wasn't enough as Brisbane held on 14.9 (93) to 13.4 (82).

After a listless showing against Port Adelaide just six days earlier, the Lions were full of energy and endeavour from the outset, racing to an early lead and never looking back.

LIONS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

On a dark night for the Demons, they not only lost the four premiership points, but also skipper Max Gawn in the opening minutes to a knee injury after some friendly fire from Jack Viney.


Playing without their leader for most of the night, the Demons were mauled around the stoppages as Brisbane hunted in packs and showed a hunger that was missing last weekend.

Father-son pick Will Ashcroft was magnificent in his second game, finishing with 31 disposals, including nine clearances, and kicking a goal to be among the best players afield.

Lachie Neale (27 and eight clearances) and Josh Dunkley (26 and nine clearances) also had big impacts as Brisbane won the clearance count decisively (60-32).

Their first quarter set the early tone and it was quickly evident this was a different team from the one that lost to Port.


Jarrod Berry started on Clayton Oliver at the first bounce, and kicked an early goal, as did returning former skipper Dayne Zorko, whose infectious energy at half-forward made a big difference at ground level.

The home team kicked two goals from forward 50 stoppages as Joe Daniher first laid one on for Zac Bailey with a deft tap and then kicked his own after grabbing it out of the ruck and snapping truly.

Brisbane possibly should have led by more than its 25-point margin at quarter-time, dominating centre clearances 8-1 and inside 50s 21-6, but some sloppy ball movement cost them.

Melbourne worked hard in the second quarter to bring the game back on an even keel, with Ben Brown, twice, and Bayley Fritsch on the stroke of half-time kicking exquisite goals from difficult positions.


Big blow for Big Max
In almost the worst possible start for Melbourne, it lost skipper Max Gawn inside the opening 10 minutes. Gawn had contested a centre bounce against Lion Oscar McInerney and in the ensuing scramble for the ball, teammate Jack Viney fell across his left knee. Gawn left the field and headed straight to the dressing room, only to return minutes later with his knee iced and was out for the night. Big Max couldn't hide his emotion on the boundary line, looking devastated with the injury.

Max Gawn sits on the bench in the round two clash between Brisbane and Melbourne at the Gabba on March 24, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The night the lights went out - again
You could hardly believe it was possible – but for the second time in four years the Gabba lost power and was pitch black. Just like cricket's Big Bash League in 2019, when the Brisbane Heat were hosting the Sydney Thunder, the stadium suddenly went dark early in the final quarter. With players leaving the field and lights slowly coming back on, the crowd was entertained with a version of karaoke as Country Roads by John Denver and Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond rang around the ground. Thankfully the players returned to resume 38 minutes after the initial outage to play the game out.

Players wait on field as the power goes out during round two, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Magician back with a bang
After missing both pre-season matches and the opening round with a hamstring tendon injury, Dayne Zorko returned in sizzling fashion. Starting at half-forward, Brisbane's former skipper made his presence felt early with manic pressure and then found space when his team had the ball to prove the perfect link between the midfield and forward line. His right foot snap for a first quarter goal got the crowd hyped, as did his superb finish on the run from 40m in the third. Zorko finished with 22 disposals (at 91 per cent efficiency) and two goals and again proved what a difference-maker he can be for the Lions.


BRISBANE                6.2       8.4       13.5     14.9 (93)
MELBOURNE            2.1       5.2       7.3       13.4 (82)

Brisbane: Daniher 4, Zorko 2, Cameron 2, Bailey 2, McInerney, Berry, McCarthy, Ashcroft
Melbourne: Brown 4, Fritsch 3, Petracca, Oliver, Neale-Bullen, McDonald, Hunter, Chandler

Brisbane: Zorko, Ashcroft, Neale, Andrews, Dunkley, Daniher, McKenna
Melbourne: Oliver, Lever, Brayshaw, Fritsch, Brown

Brisbane: Berry (shoulder)
Melbourne: Gawn (knee)

Brisbane: Nil
Melbourne: Steven May replaced in selected side by Adam Tomlinson

Brisbane: Deven Robertson (replaced Dayne Zorko in the fourth quarter)
Melbourne: Jake Melksham (replaced Max Gawn in the first quarter)

 Crowd: 30,047 at the Gabba