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2023 Toyota AFL Premiership
Brisbane Lions v Carlton
Preliminary Finals •
79 11.13
Kennedy - Official Timekeeper Full Time
63 9.9
Lions Won By 16
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    LIVE from 5.15pm AEST: Lions, Blues lock in prelim final teams

    Will Carlton's fairytale season continue or can the Lions extend their winning streak at home? Who will reach the 2023 Toyota AFL Grand Final?

    Adam Saad handballs during Carlton's preliminary final against Brisbane on September 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    SUMMARY

    One of the most decorated men in Brisbane's history, Michael Voss, will return to the Gabba on Saturday night hoping to upset the home team's dreams of a drought-breaking premiership.

    In his second season in charge of Carlton, Voss has led a remarkable turnaround that has seen the Blues win 11 of their past 12 matches, including a nail-biting semi-final win over Melbourne last Friday night. With Sam Walsh and Blake Acres enhancing their reputations this September, the Blues will head to the Gabba as underdogs, but give themselves every chance.

    06:18

    They face a Lions team that is a perfect 12-from-12 on their home deck this season and enter full of confidence after a crushing win over Port Adelaide in the qualifying final.

    Chris Fagan's forward line, led by Joe Daniher and Charlie Cameron is humming, while the midfield battle of Lachie Neale, Josh Dunkley and Hugh McCluggage against Patrick Cripps, Adam Cerra and Walsh should be fascinating. 

    Brisbane v Carlton at the Gabba, 5.15pm AEST

    NO LATE CHANGES

    SUBSTITUTES
    Brisbane: 
    Jarryd Lyons
    Carlton: Matthew Kennedy

    Where and when: the Gabba, Saturday September 23, 5.15pm AEST

    WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR? 

    Round 8: Brisbane 15.10 (100) defeated Carlton 11.8 (74) at Marvel Stadium

    Both teams were entrenched in the top eight when they met on this Friday night blockbuster, but following an even first half, Brisbane put the game to bed with five unanswered goals in the third quarter. Small forwards Charlie Cameron and Zac Bailey ran riot, kicking four goals apiece, while Josh Dunkley played his best game for his new club, gathering 33 disposals, laying 13 tackles and keeping Brownlow medallist Patrick Cripps quiet in the process. Young Lion Jack Payne kept Charlie Curnow to just one goal, and although the Blues dominated contested possessions and fought the game out well, they were never really a chance after the main break.

    08:07

    THE STATS THAT MATTER

    Brisbane
    The Lions have proven all season they're the best clearance team in the competition, winning an average of six more each game than their opposition. In the qualifying final win over Port Adelaide, they kicked 13 goals directly from clearance wins, and with Lachie Neale (the best in the AFL at eight a game), Oscar McInerney (5.4) and Josh Dunkley (4.9), there's plenty of sources to win the ball.

    Lachie Neale is tackled by Willem Drew during Brisbane's qualifying final against Port Adelaide on September 9, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

    Carlton
    The Blues have built their game around winning the contested ball, and despite losing the statistic against Melbourne last week, are ranked second in the AFL this year with a differential of +9.6 a game. They slaughtered Brisbane (+25) in that area in round eight, but turned the ball over too much and are clearly a different team now. Patrick Cripps averages 22.9 disposals in his 10 games against Brisbane – his third lowest average against any opponent.

    Patrick Cripps in action during the semi-final between Carlton and Melbourne at the MCG on September 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR… 

    Brisbane
    If big matches are won in the middle, look no further than Josh Dunkley. Not only is the Lions midfielder responsible for winning his share of the footy, he'll likely line up alongside Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps at stoppages in an attempt to nullify his influence. Accomplishing both tasks will go a long way towards Brisbane winning the game.

    Ollie Wines and Josh Dunkley during the qualifying final between Brisbane and Port Adelaide at the Gabba on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Carlton
    You could pick any small defender here, but Nic Newman likely has the role on Charlie Cameron, who not only gets the home crowd going more than any Lion when he kicks a goal, but also bagged four when the teams met earlier this year. Newman has the physicality and discipline to match Cameron, although Michael Voss could go for the speed of Adam Saad, leaving Newman to cope with Zac Bailey or Lincoln McCarthy. The match-ups at that end of the ground will be fascinating.

    Nic Newman (right) celebrates Carlton's win over Melbourne in the semi-final at the MCG on September 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    PREDICTION

    Brisbane by 17 points. The Blues are riding an incredible wave of momentum and have the weapons to unsettle Brisbane, but the Lions have answered every question this year and it's hard to look past them at home. Providing it breaks even in the middle of the ground, Brisbane's forwards have shown time and again it's variety of options is too much to handle. But if Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay, Tom De Koning and company get quality supply, an upset is well and truly on.

    Lions bound for Grand Final after ending Blues' dream

    Brisbane overcomes a fast-starting and hard-finishing Carlton to lock in its place in the season decider

    Players celebrate on the final siren of the preliminary final between Brisbane and Carlton at the Gabba, September 23, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

    BRISBANE has powered into its first Grand Final since 2004, overcoming a 30-point deficit to defeat Carlton by 16 points at the Gabba on Saturday night.

    The Blues tipped the preliminary final upside down early on by kicking the game's first five goals, but from there it was all the Lions on their way to an 11.13 (79) to 9.9 (63) triumph.

    LIONS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats

    They will face Collingwood at the MCG next Saturday in a rematch of the 2002 and 2003 deciders.

    Brisbane had to again show the maturity it has displayed most of the season after looking half a step off the pace in the first quarter against the battle-hardened Blues.

    08:16

    But with Josh Dunkley (23 disposals) keeping Patrick Cripps (13 and two goals) quiet at stoppages and a dynamic half-back line led by best on ground Keidean Coleman (21, including seven score involvements) and Conor McKenna (20) winning the ball back and creating scoring opportunities, Brisbane's forward line did enough to get them home.

    02:26

    The Blues never stopped though, despite looking out on their feet at different stages, giving the Lions a bit to think about with consecutive goals in the final quarter before Lincoln McCarthy put the game beyond doubt with his second goal.

    Ruckman Oscar McInerney also kicked two goals, as did Joe Daniher, while former skipper Dayne Zorko (22) was important in turning the momentum.

    Current co-captain Lachie Neale (23, including eight clearances) worked his way into the game, while Jarrod Berry (24) mopped up everything from a wing.

    00:54

    Brisbane's win completed a perfect 13-from-13 at the Gabba this season and ensures Chris Fagan will coach his first Grand Final in his seventh season at the helm.

    It wasn't easy though.

    Carlton's start could not have been any better, kicking the first five goals and racing to a 23-point quarter-time lead.

    They dominated at the stoppages – a stat Brisbane was eventually able to overcome (42-32) - and was able to camp the ball in its front half with insatiable pressure forcing repeated turnovers forward of centre.

    00:59

    Harry McKay, back after missing last week's semi-final win with concussion, got an early confidence boost when he won a free kick against Harris Andrews and converted with an around-the-corner set shot from 35m.

    Jack Martin kicked one from the goalsquare following a 50m penalty, former skipper Sam Docherty then converted from 45, while Charlie Curnow had the Blues fans roaring with a strong contested grab and goal.

    00:38

    Carlton won five centre clearances to one in the first quarter, generating 22 inside 50s to 11 and won more 50-50 balls than their stunned opponents.

    It was like the teams changed guernseys at quarter-time, with Brisbane turning up the heat to get right back into the game.

    Cam Rayner became a midfield missile, clearing paths with his brute force, while Coleman and McKenna became increasingly influential from half-back.

    00:37

    Daniher kicked two of the Lions' five goals for the quarter, while Ryan Lester's snap from 40m sent the Gabba wild as Brisbane hit the main break with a narrow advantage.

    This is a mature Brisbane team
    After looking slightly off the pace in the opening quarter, the Lions were simply not going to bow out of September early again. Proving they had learnt the lessons of failed finals campaigns over the previous four years, they chipped away and chipped away and never looked flustered. Set shots from Hipwood, McInerney and Daniher turned the tide, and when McKenna and Lester converted, the early deficit was erased. They dominated large chunks of the second half and could have put the game away earlier.

    Callum Ah Chee celebrates with fans after the preliminary final between Brisbane and Carlton at the Gabba, September 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Charlie's funny old night
    Charlie Cameron, the man that ignites Brisbane's home crowd more than anyone, had a strange, strange old night. Manned by Adam Saad, Cameron failed to gather a touch in the first quarter. In the second he looked set to stream into an open goal before Mitch McGovern's pressure from behind forced him into an errant bounce, and then he sprayed a 20m set shot from just off centre – much to the stunned amazement of the locals. 'Country Roads' got belted out once in the third quarter, but that was it as Cameron finished with 1.3 from 10 disposals. 

    00:42

    Acres does it again
    Just when you thought his September had run out of heroics, Blake Acres came to Carlton's rescue again – this time in defence. After a deep forward entry from Brisbane in the second quarter, Callum Ah Chee gathered and appeared to have snapped a goal. However, after it was sent to the ARC for review – with the soft signal of a goal – the verdict came back that the ball had glanced the hair of the Blues' wingman. Another magic moment for Carlton's Mr September. 

    01:14

    ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS

    BRISBANE     1.2      6.6      9.9      11.13 (79)
    CARLTON      5.1      6.3      6.7      9.9 (63) 

    GOALS 
    Brisbane: Daniher 2, McInerney 2, McCarthy 2, McKenna, Hipwood, Lester, Cameron, Ah Chee
    Carlton: Cripps 2, McKay 2, Martin 2, Docherty, Curnow, Cottrell

    BEST 
    Brisbane: Coleman, Dunkley, Berry, Zorko, McKenna, Neale, McInerney
    Carlton: Walsh, McGovern, Weitering, Docherty, Saad, Newman

    INJURIES 
    Brisbane: Nil
    Carlton: Nil

    SUBSTITUTES 
    Brisbane: Jarryd Lyons (replaced Callum Ah Chee in the fourth quarter)
    Carlton: Matthew Kennedy (replaced Lachie Fogarty at three quarter time) 

    Crowd: 36,012 at the Gabba

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