BRISBANE has surged into premiership contention with a pulsating three-point win over Adelaide at Brighton Homes Arena on Saturday afternoon.
In a match fitting its top four billing, the teams swapped the lead in a see-sawing battle before the Lions edged ahead with a Belle Dawes goal to win 5.12 (42) to 6.3 (39).
LIONS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats
It was Adelaide’s first loss of the season and keeps Brisbane entrenched in the four with two rounds remaining.
On a hot and blustery afternoon, both teams played at a high level, with the Lions holding a three-goal advantage in the second quarter, only to watch Adelaide surge and take the lead into the fourth.
But with the double chance on the line, Dawes stepped up to play hero with a terrific set shot from 40m to give her team the lead for the final time.
Ally Anderson (28 disposals) had arguably her best game of the season considering her high quality opponents, while Sophie Conway (26) also had a big influence.
Brisbane’s midfield won the clearance count (29-23) after a slow start to give them field position and despite some inaccuracy, were able to cling on.
Adelaide was best served by free-running Niamh Kelly (29) and ever-reliable Ebony Marinoff (34), while Danielle Ponter’s three goals looked like stealing victory.
When the Crows got the ball in space they looked devastating and would lose no fans from their performance, but the Lions were able to turn around their poor record at Springfield (previously 1-3) with the heart-stopping win.
After Dakota Davidson kicked the game’s opening goal inside 60 seconds, Adelaide dominated general play in the first quarter.
The Crows outnumbered their opponents at most contests and when they won the ball back were happy to look inboard and open the play up with quick ball movement.
Ponter kicked two goals, the first after some outstanding lead-up play by Madison Newman, to give the Crows a well-deserved four-point lead at the break.
But Brisbane completely flipped the game early in the second quarter, dominating around the stoppages, ramping up its defensive pressure and camping inside their forward 50.
Tall forward Taylor Smith kicked started the early onslaught with a clever left-footed checkside on the run before Courtney Hodder got the home crowd roaring with a terrific rundown tackle and clever snap from the pocket.
After Smith added a second following a strong mark in the goalsquare, the Lions led by three goals and blew a handful of chances to extend that even further before Eloise Jones grabbed one back before the main break.
Take a bow, Belle Dawes. With Brisbane’s top four chances on the line, the ferocious midfielder refused to let her team succumb in the fourth quarter. It was fitting that it was her that had the match-defining moment midway through the final term, when her set shot from 40m sailed through to give the home team the lead for the last time. There was no more desperate player on the field in the final term.
After trailing 9-6 in the clearance count and giving up field position in the opening quarter, Brisbane’s midfielders got right to work in the second to change the game. Ally Anderson extracted four clearances on her own, while wingers Sophie Conway and Orla O’Dwyer had two each as the Lions won the count by a landslide 11-0 for the quarter to put their team on the front foot. They ended up winning the statistic 29-23.
Brisbane travels to Melbourne next Saturday to face St Kilda at RSEA Park at 3.05pm AEDT, while Adelaide has another barnstormer on the cards when it hosts North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval on Sunday from 2.35pm ACST.
BRISBANE 1.2 4.8 4.9 5.12 (42)
ADELAIDE 2.0 3.0 6.2 6.3 (39)
Brisbane: Smith 2, Hodder, Dawes, Davidson
Adelaide: Ponter 3, Jones 2, Gould
Brisbane: Anderson, Conway, Dawes, Dunn, Postlethwaite
Adelaide: Kelly, Marinoff, Ponter, Biddell, Randall
Crowd: 2544 at Brighton Homes Arena