BRISBANE tuned up for the finals with a 17-point win over a spirited Carlton on Saturday night and will now wait to see if it claims its first minor premiership of the AFL era.
The 11.12 (78) to 10.1 (61) victory momentarily puts the Lions on top of the ladder, but they will need Collingwood to defeat Port Adelaide in the final game of the home and away season on Monday night to stay there.
LIONS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats
The Lions effectively put the game away by half-time with a scintillating second quarter where they kicked five unanswered goals during intermittent rain at the Gabba.
But in Kade Simpson's 342nd and final game, Carlton never gave in, kicking the final three goals of the game to bring the scores closer than they otherwise may have been.
Daniel Rich was magnificent at half-back for the victors, kicking two goals from outside 50 among his 22 disposals that included 12 intercept possessions.
Lachie Neale (29 disposals, 16 contested) was his usual prolific self, bouncing back from a quiet game against Sydney, while Brandon Starcevich, Mitch Robinson and Cal Ah Chee also impressed for the home team.
It was Brisbane's seventh straight win heading into October where it could still face Richmond, Geelong or West Coast in a qualifying final depending on results to finish this round.
Following a free-flowing and even opening term, the Lions were ruthless in the second quarter.
Starting with a Cam Rayner goal following a horror Jacob Weitering turnover, they absolutely dominated, camping the ball in their forward half to generate a staggering 23 inside 50s to three.
Mitch Robinson kicked two of their five goals to give the Lions a 28-point cushion at the main break they would not look back from.
Carlton was best served by Sam Walsh, who had a staggering 21 contested possessions among his match-high 31, Lachie Plowman, who kept dangerous Charlie Cameron quiet and Harry McKay, who kicked three goals from limited chances.
Patrick Cripps didn't feature for the majority of the second half after a shoulder injury in the second term.
Simmo bows out in style
It wasn't the night Kade Simpson wanted for his farewell game, but it didn't stop the Carlton veteran from having his moment. Early in the third quarter, Simpson cruised past Matthew Kennedy to receive a handball and drill the goal from 50m. It was perfection, poetry in motion, much like Simpson has been for his 342 games. The night didn't start so well, with the 36-year-old clashing heads with Dan McStay. He clutched his mouth but played on and finished with 19 disposals to round out his terrific career.
Lions find their goalkicking boots
Missing chances around goal has plagued it for much of the season, but perhaps Brisbane is finding its goalkicking boots just in time for the finals. After kicking 11.7 against the Swans at a wet Cazaly's Stadium last Sunday, the Lions again made the most of their opportunities against Carlton. Lincoln McCarthy set the tone with a nice set shot to get the scoreboard ticking and then in the dominant second quarter Mitch Robinson, Dan Rich and Cam Rayner all nailed long-range shots. Rayner put the nail in the coffin as the three quarter-time siren sounded when he drilled his second from 35m after receiving a free kick. Some late rushed behinds blotted the copybook a touch.
Can't keep Lachie down
After he was tagged by Sydney's Ryan Clarke last Sunday and kept to a quiet 15 disposals, it was almost inevitable Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale would respond – and he did just that. Despite the best efforts of Ed Curnow, Neale was back to his ball-winning best, racking up seven disposals in the first quarter and 16 by the half. He even found time to drop deep into defence to outmark Levi Casboult close to goal in a genuine one-on-one contest. Neale finished with 29 disposals and likely put the finishing touches on claiming his first 'Charlie'.
BRISBANE 3.2 8.5 9.7 11.12 (78)
CARLTON 4.0 4.1 6.1 10.1 (61)
Brisbane: McCarthy 2, Rayner 2, Robinson 2, Rich 2, Coleman, Cameron, Hipwood
Carlton: McKay 3, Casboult, Curnow, Gibbons, Murphy, Newnes, Simpson, Williamson
Brisbane: Rich, Neale, Starcevich, Ah Chee, Robinson, Zorko
Carlton: Walsh, Plowman, Williamson, Kennedy, McKay
Carlton: Cripps (shoulder)