Charlie Cameron celebrates a goal during round 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HUGH McCluggage played his best game of the season and Lachie Neale ran riot as Brisbane kept the pressure on the top two with an emphatic 81-point win over Richmond at the Gabba on Thursday night.

Led by a dominant midfield, the Lions were harder, stronger, more composed and polished on the way to a 20.14 (134) to 7.11 (53) victory.

It kept their perfect record at home intact – now seven from seven in 2023 – and moved them to within a game of Collingwood and Port Adelaide at the top of the ladder.


McCluggage was superb, with his precision kicking a feature of his 34 disposals (at 82 per cent efficiency) that included nine score involvements.

He wasn't the only midfielder to star with Lachie Neale (34, 10 clearances and two goals) absolutely sublime and Josh Dunkley (20 touches) also influential before he was subbed out at the final change to ice his calf.

Joe Daniher kicked five goals to lead the way inside forward 50, including one bizarre effort in the final term when Noah Balta tried to touch the ball on the goal-line only to leave it there for Daniher to toe over.


The Lions looked on from the outset, dominating territory and the scoreboard to lead by 21 points at quarter-time, 48 at the half and 72 at the final change.

LIONS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats

The loss halted Richmond's three-game winning streak under interim coach Andrew McQualter and ensured it was the ninth straight team to lose following its bye when up against a team that had played the previous week.

A hamstring injury to Jayden Short in the second quarter did not help the Tigers, but they were already in the midst of conceding eight consecutive goals and were thoroughly outplayed for the majority of the night.


Brisbane was able to pressure and force turnovers all over the ground as speedy half-backs Conor McKenna, Darcy Wilmot and Keidean Coleman squeezed up to intercept any loose balls.

Wilmot kicked a set shot from 50m on the quarter-time siren to give his team a lead it deserved and they never looked back.

POST-MATCH 'It woke everybody up': The spark behind Lions' resurgence

McKenna added to the half-back feast when he hoisted one home from 50m, and minutes later he was instrumental in a Charlie Cameron goal that started from defence and had two involvements from the evergreen Ryan Lester.

Richmond could not win the ball at the source and when they won it back in defence, struggled to move it by foot or hand.

The 48-point lead at half-time was about as close as it could have been for the one-goal Tigers.


Was Rayner robbed?
Early in the match Cam Rayner took his shot at a Mark of the Year contender when he soared on to the shoulders of Jacob Hopper. The former No.1 draft pick juggled once and seemed to control the ball all the way to the ground before it bounced out on impact. Was it a mark or was it not? The adjudicating umpire thought not as Rayner bounced to his feet with an inquisitive look. This one will have to fall into the 'what might have been' basket.


Dunkley v Taranto
Two contenders for the unofficial Recruit of the Year title went head-to-head with Josh Dunkley and Tim Taranto squaring off in the middle of the ground. It was clear from the opening centre bounce that Dunkley was making it his mission to keep the red-hot Taranto quiet by matching up with him at every opportunity. Although the former Bulldog wasn't winning clearances himself, his body work to pave the way for Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage – and in the process keep Taranto at bay – was first class. The numbers ended up a wash (Dunkley with 20 in three quarters and Taranto 21), but the clear decision went the way of the Lion. 

The post-bye horror show continues
Although Richmond entered the match heavy underdogs, the nature of its loss continued the trend of teams being poor following a bye. The record is now 0-9 for teams after the bye up against opponents that played the previous week. Just like Hawthorn, West Coast, Geelong, Fremantle, Gold Coast and Brisbane in previous weeks, the Tigers barely fired a shot.


BRISBANE     4.6       9.7       15.13     20.14 (134)
RICHMOND   1.3       1.7       4.7         7.11 (53)

Brisbane: Daniher 5, McCarthy 3, Neale 2, Hipwood 2, Cameron 2, Bailey 2, Wilmot, McKenna, Berry, Ah Chee
Richmond: Hopper 2, Short, Ross, Rioli, Cumberland, Clarke

Brisbane: McCluggage, Neale, McKenna, McInerney, Ashcroft, Dunkley, Coleman
Richmond: Balta, Vlastuin, Broad, Rioli

Brisbane: Dunkley (calf), Ah Chee (concussion)
Richmond: Short (hamstring)

Brisbane: Nil
Richmond: Dustin Martin (illness) replaced in selected side by Noah Cumberland

Brisbane: Darcy Fort (replaced Josh Dunkley at three quarter-time)
Richmond: Hugo Ralphsmith (replaced Short in the second quarter)

Crowd: 30,022 at the Gabba