BRISBANE has stormed into flag contention with a commanding 25-point win over Melbourne on Saturday night to secure a top-four position while denying the Demons the minor premiership.
In their best performance of the season, the Lions were ferocious from the outset and did not relent in the Grand Final rematch, running out 8.5 (53) to 4.4 (28) winners at Brighton Homes Arena.
LIONS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
They have now beaten the top three teams – Adelaide, North Melbourne and the Demons – during the home and away season and will face the Crows in a qualifying final next weekend.
Melbourne will host North Melbourne after missing the chance to win the minor premiership.
Dakota Davidson and Sophie Conway kicked two goals apiece and there was not a poor performer on the ground for the Lions.
Jade Ellenger played the game of her life, racking up 22 disposals and tearing up and down the wing to create drive from half-back to half-forward and getting back to help her defensive unit.
Ally Anderson (22), Belle Dawes (21) and Cathy Svarc (18 and nine tackles) helped gain the ascendency around the ball when the match was truly up for grabs, while captain Bre Koenen thrived in a full-time return to defence, with 12 of her 22 disposals intercepts.
Courtney Hodder also deserves special mention after being thrown into the midfield for quick bursts, creating chaos with her speed and an infectious energy with her 12 tackles.
Brisbane dominated most of the night, with 42 inside 50s to 24, and despite having 45 more disposals were also able to out-tackle Melbourne 81-57.
With a top-two spot wrapped up before the match, Melbourne battled hard but was just half a step off the pace, having to overcome the late withdrawal of Paxy Paxman (hamstring) and an in-game concussion for Rhi Watt.
With the wind at their backs, the Lions dominated field position in the early going, but despite generating 19 inside 50s to two, had just an eight-point lead at the first change.
Both of their goals came on the back of excellent ball movement from the defensive half, but too often they blazed away under pressure with Melbourne's backline holding up well.
When the Demons got their chance in the second term with the wind, they cashed in.
Tayla Harris took a strong mark to goal, and when Tyla Hanks and Kate Hore quickly followed suit, they had the lead.
But to Brisbane's credit they weren't going anywhere, with a spectacular goal to Charlie Mullins that started in the backline and swept the length of the field and another to Davidson following a strong pack mark wrestling back a narrow half-time advantage.
One to watch
In just her eighth game of Australian Football, Jen Dunne continued to thrive after arriving from Ireland just prior to the season. Set the task of defending the competition's leading goalkicker Eden Zanker, Dunne was magnificent, keeping Zanker goalless and gathering nine intercept possessions herself. Her height (178cm) and athleticism is there for all to see and gives the Lions another key defensive weapon heading into the finals. Zanker and teammate Hore are set to finish equal top of the goalkicking charts with 20 apiece.
It was her first game back after a month out with a hamstring problem, but you wouldn't have known it watching Tayla Harris. The star Melbourne forward took no time getting involved, flying high over Lions defender Nat Grider to take a spectacular mark on centre wing early in the match. She finished with 11 disposals, 1.1 and four contested marks in a promising outing.
Melbourne will host North Melbourne in qualifying final next weekend, while the Lions will travel to Adelaide to face the Crows. The dates and times will be confirmed by the AFL at the conclusion of the round.
BRISBANE 2.2 4.3 8.4 8.5 (53)
MELBOURNE 1.0 4.0 4.1 4.4 (28)
Brisbane: Davidson 2, Conway 2, R.Svarc, Smith, Mullins, Hampson
Melbourne: Sherriff, Hore, Harris, Hanks
Brisbane: Ellenger, Koenen, Hodder, Conway, Anderson, Dawes
Melbourne: Pearce, Hore, Purcell, Hanks, Gillard
Melbourne: Watt (concussion)
Melbourne: Paxy Paxman (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Georgia Gall
Crowd: 3,004 at Brighton Homes Arena