Zac Bailey and Josh Dunkley tackle Sam Walsh during the R8 match between Brisbane and Carlton at Marvel Stadium on May 5, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

JOSH Dunkley wasn't at Marvel Stadium when Brisbane secured his services in the dying minutes of last year's trade period, but the marquee signing produced a marquee performance there on Friday night to show why the Lions were prepared to pay a high price to prise him out of the Western Bulldogs.  

The 26-year-old went head-to-head with Brownlow medallist Patrick Cripps and won that game within the game, limiting the influence of the Carlton skipper and producing a dominant display to lead the Lions to a fifth straight win by 26 points that will see them return to Queensland on top of the ladder.

BLUES v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

After requesting a trade to Brisbane days before he won the Charles Sutton Medal last year, Dunkley produced his best game yet since that blockbuster deal, amassing 33 disposals, 14 contested possessions, 13 tackles, six clearances and 555 metres gained, while holding Cripps to 17 disposals in the 15.10 (100) to 11.8 (74) win. 


The game was all but over at three-quarter time after Chris Fagan's side kicked five goals to none in a third-quarter blitz that resulted in a chorus of boos and thousands of frustrated Carlton supporters streaming out of Docklands.

When Carlton kicked four of the first five goals in the final quarter, some on the train, in the car or on the concourse might have turned around, but it was a case of too little, too late for the Blues, who have four wins on the board after eight rounds and more questions than answers.

It was billed as Charlie v Charlie in the build-up, but it was Cameron rather than Curnow who fired. 


The 2019 All-Australian kicked two of his four goals in the game-changing run after half-time, while Zac Bailey converted three of his four majors in the same blitz that strengthened Brisbane's premiership credentials and cast further doubt around Carlton's legitimacy in 2023. 

While those two enjoyed a lick of the ice cream on Friday night, Carlton's Coleman medallists – Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow – were well beaten by Brisbane co-captain Harris Andrews and budding backman Jack Payne, who held their direct opponents to one goal each. 


The signs were ominous early when Brisbane kicked three goals in the first 10 minutes before Carlton got going. By the first break, each side had five goals each on the board in an old-fashioned shootout. 

But it didn't last. The game ground to a halt in the second quarter before Brisbane sprung to life after half-time, punishing the Blues on turnover to continue their strong recent record under the roof at Marvel Stadium.

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Michael Voss' men smashed West Coast in Perth last Saturday night, but after disappointing performances against Adelaide and St Kilda before that the Blues will be put under the microscope after being beaten all over the ground in front of 45,848 people on the Friday night stage. 

Dunkley essentially cost pick No.21 and a future first-round pick in a complex deal that involved a swap of other picks. That deal looks like great business for a side that is in the hunt to win its first premiership since 2003. 

Charlie feels the Payne
When Marcus Adams was ruled out for the season before a ball was bounced, the Lions looked vulnerable done back. But it hasn’t proven to be the case. Jack Payne has risen from obscurity to prove to be a gun stopper alongside the co-captain. While Harris Andrews kept Harry McKay to one goal and six touches, Payne handled the other Coleman medallist in navy blue, restricting Charlie Curnow to just one goal after he booted nine last start. 

150 for Doc
It has been a long road to 150 games for Sam Docherty. The All-Australian defender has overcome two knee reconstructions and two bouts of testicular cancer to reach the milestone. While the result didn't go Carlton's way, the former skipper still made an impact. He kicked the Blues first, before finishing with 29 disposals and 463 metres gained. 


Four more for Cameron
Nic Newman has done some big jobs this year. He got the better of Toby Greene and Izak Rankine, but he couldn't stop Charlie Cameron on Friday night. The star small forward is now up to 26 majors for the year – the third most in the competition – and well on his way to a second All-Australian blazer. 


CARLTON     5.1    6.3    6.5   11.8    (74)
BRISBANE 5.3     7.7     12.9     15.10     (100)

Motlop 2, Durdin 2, McKay, C.Curnow, E.Curnow, Docherty, Hollands, Cerra, Kennedy
Brisbane: Cameron 4, Bailey 4, Gunston 2, Daniher 2, McCarthy, Sharp, Hipwood

Cerra, Hewett, Docherty, Acres, Walsh
Brisbane: Dunkley, Payne, Cameron, Andrews, McCluggage, Berry, Bailey, Daniher

 McKay (face) 
Brisbane: Coleman (hamstring) 

Matt Kennedy (replaced Lewis Young in the third quarter)
 Jarryd Lyons (replaced Keidean Coleman in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 45,548 at Marvel Stadium