Craig Starcevich ahead of the 2022 Grand Final between Brisbane and Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos

BRISBANE coach Craig Starcevich says dropping two players for disciplinary reasons was a "wake-up call" for a Lions team he believes is no longer in the elite echelon of the AFLW competition.

Collingwood took advantage of a wayward Brisbane to inflict a second loss of the year on Saturday night, upsetting last season's runners-up by five points at Brighton Homes Arena.

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It capped a difficult week for Starcevich, who left winger Jade Ellenger and youngster Poppy Boltz out of the team for "not meeting our professional standards as a group".

"We're in a tight competition and if you drop your standards, you're going to get hurt one way or the other," Starcevich said.

"Every now and then the team needs a bit of a wake-up call as to what's acceptable and what's not, and that's what happened."


Although not going into specifics, the premiership coach said the duo suffered from a lack of sleep, "and that's not great preparation in a professional sporting environment".

Although not guaranteeing their selection to face Gold Coast next week, Ellenger and Boltz would be likely to return.

Jade Ellenger runs with the ball during the AFLW R5 match between Brisbane and Hawthorn at Kinetic Stadium on October 1, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

For the third time in four matches at their new Springfield home, the Lions lost after some poor kicking in front of goal.

After winning the premiership in 2021 and making a preliminary final and Grand Final in seasons six and seven in 2022, Starcevich now believes there's a gap to front-runners Adelaide and Melbourne.

"We're scraping and scrapping to get back up in that echelon and I reckon we'll get there eventually, but I reckon it's better off we set our sights on just making finals in the first place," he said.


"You're probably going to need six wins to do it and we're four wins at the moment.

"Our capabilities are high, but you can't afford to let games like the Richmond one (in round one) and the Collingwood one slip out of your fingers. 

"We've only got ourselves to blame.

"It's been the same forever, hasn't it? If you kick points instead of goals, you let the opposition in, and guess what? You get done."