BRISBANE will give Dakota Davidson every chance to prove her fitness for the club's fifth NAB AFLW Grand Final appearance next week after the spearhead missed the final quarter of Saturday's preliminary final win due to a knee injury.
Late in the third term against Geelong, Davidson worked to lay an important tackle in the forward pocket but, as her left leg buckled under her, she fell to the deck.
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She was later seen in tears as medical staff assessed her, leading to concerns that she had suffered a serious injury. But the Lions say they’ll give Davidson a chance to prove her fitness later in the week.
"She's in good spirits, walking around OK, and was actually jogging out to the group, a little bit proppy," Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich said post-match.
"We'll just have to wait and see what comes of that … but I don't know the extent."
Davidson's injury would seriously hurt the Lions' forward structure ahead of next week's Grand Final. The forward has been the club's main target in attack this year, leading Brisbane with 21 goals and dominating the air inside 50.
Her absence in the last quarter, however, did create the opportunity for Lions stalwart Shannon Campbell to go forward and kick the matchwinner. Campbell has been trialled in attack throughout the season, after making her name as a gritty defender.
"We have to find different combos otherwise there's a chance we stand still and don't improve. It also freshens up Shannon, this is her eighth season in the competition, coming into her fifth 'granny', she's someone that needs rejuvenating from time to time," Starcevich said.
Testing different players in new roles, and debuting a host of new faces, is something that has been new for a typically settled Brisbane side.
"There's so many things about coaching this team and it's a joy because you saw the grit there, and you've probably seen it the last month to be honest," Starcevich said.
"Just their grit and fight to be able to hang in there and keep pushing to the finish line. That bit just makes us immensely proud. So if you're a Brisbane Lions supporter, you should be sitting back looking at this team just going 'we love you guys', we certainly do as a coaching group. They're amazing."
For Geelong coach Dan Lowther, the loss was a frustrating way to end its best AFLW season since joining the competition in 2019.
Already looking toward the 'pre-preseason' to further build on what the side established this season, Lowther admits the path to success is "getting clearer".
"Our strategy over the last two or three seasons was to get to this point, so it's working scoring, stopping opposition from scoring as well so that the bookends are going really well," Lowther said.
"Aishling Moloney's come in and made a huge difference to our front half among others, but just having enough depth to go through the midfield, outside run, not faulting our girls at all they've been super, just building that support is what we're after."