Jack Gunston celebrates a goal during round 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

WELCOME back, Jack.

With an equal career-high six goals, Jack Gunston has returned with a bang, as Brisbane got the percentage booster it was after in defeating West Coast by 81 points at the Gabba on Saturday afternoon.

In almost perfect winter conditions, the Lions led by 33 points at the first change, 54 at the half and 71 at three quarter-time before easing up to win 16.20 (116) to 5.5 (35).

LIONS v EAGLES Full match coverage and stats

Their eighth consecutive home victory in 2023 kept the pressure on top two Collingwood and Port Adelaide while consigning West Coast to a 14th straight defeat.


It wasn't always smooth sailing for the Lions, but there were still plenty of positives as they prepare for a monster fortnight that includes playing Melbourne at the MCG and premier Geelong at the Gabba eight days later.

The big plus came from Gunston.

After a four-week training block to overcome a niggly body, the 32-year-old returned and vindicated the faith of coach Chris Fagan.


The veteran forward kicked six goals for just the fourth time in his career, including a brilliant right foot snap in the opening term.

He looked looked fluent and moved well, roaming all over the ground to finish with 20 disposals and eight marks.

Missing midfield ace Josh Dunkley (calf), Brisbane exposed some new faces to the middle of the ground, with Will Ashcroft (28 disposals and seven clearances) adding another layer to his nomination for the hotly contested Rising Star award.

Cam Rayner spent more time on the ball and flourished, racking up 21 disposals and a goal that included 11 score involvements.

Co-captains Lachie Neale (31 and nine clearances) and Harris Andrews (20 and 12 intercepts) were again fantastic, while Jarryd Lyons (29) made the most of his return.


Brisbane was in control from early in the match, motoring to 45 unanswered points late in the first quarter before Jack Darling opened the scoring for West Coast with a goal.

Hugh McCluggage kicked two lovely set shots – a part of his game he's often struggled with – while Gunston added two in a minute as the home team led by 33 points at the first change.

West Coast congested play and frustrated the home team, restricting them to just nine goals over the final three quarters.

Liam Duggan (33) and Tim Kelly (26 and a goal) were prolific, while Brady Hough (22) was magnificent in keeping Charlie Cameron goalless.


Gunston's six-pack
After missing the past three matches to undergo a fitness block in the hope of rejuvenating his struggling body, all eyes were on veteran Jack Gunston's return. The three-time premiership Hawk certainly looked fresher than before his break, roaming up the ground to gather possessions at half-back and on the wing early to get involved. He took a mark on the lead late in the first term and converted expertly with an around-the-corner set shot, and 60 seconds later added another from a brilliant right foot snap. Gunston finished with six goals for just the fourth time in his 14-season career.


Brisbane keeps pressure on the top two
Entering round 17 the Lions were in the ultimate no-man's land – two games behind Collingwood and Port Adelaide and two in front of equal fourth Melbourne and St Kilda. In beating West Coast, not only did they keep the pressure on for a vital top two spot, they jumped their percentage from 127.2 to 133.2. Finishing in the first two would give Chris Fagan's team an opportunity to qualify for a Grand Final without having to leave the Gabba – a venue at which they're a perfect eight from eight in 2023.

BRISBANE             7.3      10.8     13.14    16.20 (116)
WEST COAST         2.0      2.2      3.3        5.5 (35)

Brisbane: Gunston 6, McCluggage 2, Hipwood 2, Wilmot, Starcevich, Rayner, McInerney, Fletcher, Bailey
West Coast: Allen, Kelly, Hunt, Darling, Williams

Brisbane: Neale, Andrews, Gunston, Ashcroft, Rayner, Lyons
West Coast: Duggan, Kelly, Hough, Hunt

Brisbane: Nil
West Coast: Nil 

Brisbane: Kai Lohmann (replaced Dayne Zorko in the fourth quarter)
West Coast: Tom Cole (replaced Jeremy McGovern at three quarter-time)

Crowd: 24,843 at the Gabba