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The AFL Ladder

AFL Premiership Ladder AFL Premiership Ladder
2020 Toyota AFL Premiership
Round 16 • Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast Suns
88 13.10
Full Time Lions by 45
43 6.7
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    The Brisbane blueprint: Suns copying Big Brother's 2018 path

    Under Stuart Dew, Gold Coast is traveling an eerily similar trajectory to Brisbane under Chris Fagan

    Stuart Dew and Darcy MacPherson embrace after a win. Picture: AFL Photos

    WEDNESDAY night's QClash at the Gabba is a chance for Gold Coast to rubber stamp its dramatic improvement in 2020. 

    Although many outsiders were fixated on the Suns' winless streak of six matches before their last-start thumping of North Melbourne, what they've accomplished this season should not be glossed over.

    Ben Ainsworth is pumped after kicking a goal for the Suns. Picture: AFL Photos

    In fact, the progression is strikingly similar to that of Big Brother Brisbane in 2018.

    Two years ago - Chris Fagan's second season in charge at the Lions - they won just five games, but laid the platform for the success that has ensued.

    LADDER PREDICTOR Can your team make the eight?

    Brisbane took its percentage from 74 in 2017 to 89 in 2018, became much more difficult to score against (115 points a game down to 93) and showcased the key young pillars it would rely upon in years to come.

    Second-year players Hugh McCluggage (22 games), Jarrod Berry (21) and Alex Witherden (21) were regular, while No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner did not miss a game.

    Harris Andrews was already a lock in defence and vying for All-Australian selection in his fourth season, while Eric Hipwood was nailing down the key post at the other end of the ground with 37 goals in his third year.

    00:26 Mins
    Published on

    Hipwood hanger gets Gabba rocking

    Eric Hipwood reels in a beautiful speccy to create a huge buzz around the ground

    Published on

    It was far from all bouquets and confetti for Brisbane as it lost five games by seven points or less.

    One of the endearing images of 2018 was Fagan putting his arm around a disconsolate Rayner just moments after the teenager had missed a potential game-winning goal against North Melbourne in round 20.

    01:33 Mins
    Published on

    Fagan: 'Rayner will make up for that one'

    Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan says his side will get around Cameron Rayner after the young gun missed the game-winning shot

    Published on

    He'd also missed a chance to draw on the siren earlier in the year against the Suns.

    Not even the most ardent Lions fan would have expected a jump from five wins to 16 last season and a spot in two finals, but that was the progression they made with the help of off-season acquisition Lachie Neale.

    The Suns are treading a similar path in 2020.

    Lachie Weller leads the Suns off the ground. Picture: AFL Photos

    After 14 matches, they have five wins and a draw and have bumped their percentage from a diabolical 60 last season to 101.8 this season.

    Stuart Dew's men have dropped their points conceded from 101 to 60, which would convert to 75 in full length games. They are vastly improved.

    The key long-term pillars are now all visibly in place, exposing 21-and-under players Charlie Ballard (13), Wil Powell (12), Ben King (14), Jack Lukosius (14), Noah Anderson (14) and Connor Budarick (14) to a stack of senior games.

    Noah Anderson celebrates with Ben King. Picture: AFL Photos

    Then there's Matt Rowell, who took the footy world by storm in four full games before dislocating his shoulder, and Izak Rankine, who has threatened to win numerous matches off his own boot with his exhilarating skills and instinct.

    00:32 Mins
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    Ridiculously good Rankine raises roof

    Gold Coast young gun Izak Rankine chimes in with another dazzler close to the death

    Published on

    It's easy to picture the Suns having success from this platform.

    Fagan says he can see the similarities to his own team.

    "For us, when we started to make our rise, one of the first things we improved was our percentage," he said.

    "I'd say they're in a similar spot to what we were a year or two ago and are really on the improve.

    FAGAN COMES OUT FIRING Lions not reliant on Harris Andrews, says the coach

    "We're expecting the toughest of games."

    And just like Brisbane, Gold Coast has experienced its share of heartache this year, losing twice by under a goal and drawing another. 

    03:04 Mins
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    Watch the last two minutes: GC v Ess

    Relive the thrilling final moments between the Suns and the Bombers

    Published on

    Rankine missed a late set shot against the Western Bulldogs and failed to make the distance on another in the draw against Essendon, and his side was unlucky not to defeat finals-bound St Kilda.

    Sound familiar?

    "Sort of reminds me of us a couple of years ago," Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko said.

    "We were so close without getting the results.

    "You keep toiling away and that will eventually change for you."

    As Fagan did two years ago, Dew has been patient, pushing the young players forward when he could have opted for more experienced hands.

    Powell has played when Brayden Fiorini might have pushed for a spot, King has played through quiet patches when Peter Wright was crying out for a game.

    00:45 Mins
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    King's magical moment sends stadium berserk

    Ben King produces a stunning solo effort to tie the scores late in the game

    Published on

    Dew knows the significance of finishing well against Brisbane, Collingwood and Hawthorn.

    "We'd love to keep winning," he said.

    "For us to play, and play well, is really important, and if we happen to beat Brisbane and put a little dent in its (top four) chances, that's a good thing.

    "We'd love to finish with real momentum. We've talked about how we finish the year is how we're going to start (pre-season) training.

    "This week is important to us and the next three games are going to tell a story."

    A story that has a lot to be written.

    MATCH REPORT

    QSmash: Lions hit with injuries in leap up ladder against Suns

    Injury-hit Brisbane prevails in QClash against rivals Gold Coast

    The Lions congratulate Lincoln McCarthy after a goal. Picture: Getty Images via AFL Photos

    BRISBANE broke its scoring shackles with a commanding 45-point QClash win over Gold Coast at the Gabba on Wednesday night, but the Lions were again left counting a heavy injury toll. 

    Just five days after losing Virgin Australia AFL All Australian Harris Andrews for up to six weeks, the Lions will now sweat on the outcomes of injuries to young stars Jarrod Berry (shoulder) and Brandon Starcevich (concussion), who both failed to return after half-time.

    LIONS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats

    Lachie Neale (33 disposals, 19 contested) enhanced his Brownlow Medal chances with another prolific display, netting him a second Marcus Ashcroft Medal for best afield in the 13.10 (88) to 6.7 (43) victory. 

    06:07 Mins
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    Highlights: Brisbane v Gold Coast

    The Lions and Suns clash in round 16

    Published on

    No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner (12 touches and three goals) played one of his best games for the club, setting the tone with a dominant first quarter. 

    After kicking just two goals in his previous five outings, Charlie Cameron (2.3) looked back to his zippy best, as did skipper Dayne Zorko (24 disposals and two goals). 

    00:52 Mins
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    Zorko gets the Lions off to a flyer

    Great ball movement sets up skipper Dayne Zorko for Brisbane's first goal

    Published on

    With its fifth straight win Brisbane is now in second place, and victories over Sydney in Cairns on Sunday and Carlton in the final round would give it at least two finals at the Gabba. 

    After failing to top 60 points in its past four matches, Brisbane was at its scintillating best early, slamming on five first-quarter goals to blow the game open against a flat-footed Suns. 

    It was the kind of dominant win the Lions needed after scraping by in some close contests in recent weeks. 

    Jack Payne did an admirable job in replacement of Andrews, while Hipwood's one goal told only part of his excellent night, as he ran reliable Sam Collins ragged, finishing with 10 marks and 14 disposals. 

    The Suns will be disappointed with their showing, trailing by 28 points at quarter-time after being bullied around the ball, conceding 19 inside 50s to four, and never genuinely getting into the contest.

    01:00 Mins
    Published on

    Swallow smashes through Mitch

    David Swallow attacks the ball and Mitch Robinson comes off second best

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    Injuries keep mounting for the Lions
    After losing Harris Andrews with a hamstring injury against Collingwood, the Lions are again licking their wounds. Brandon Starcevich suffered concussion early in the second quarter when he flew in for a towering spoil, only to hit the ground hard and be groggily nursed from the field. Ten minutes later it was Jarrod Berry who was helped off, clutching his shoulder after being driven to ground in a tackle. Lincoln McCarthy also left the field during the second with a badly corked quad but returned to play out the game. 

    00:33 Mins
    Published on

    Lights out for Lions defender

    Brandon Starcevich is in bad shape after a heavy landing

    Published on
    00:29 Mins
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    Gun Lion pops out shoulder in tackle

    Brisbane suffers another setback with Jarrod Berry leaving the game with a shoulder injury

    Published on

    Chris Fagan pulling his hair out
    Although he played one of his best games for the club, Cam Rayner drew the ire of his coach Chris Fagan during the third quarter. After taking a strong overhead mark 15m out and just off centre, Rayner looked certain to kick his fourth goal but casually played on with a snap and hit the belly of the ball to miss to the near side. Cameras cut to a furious Fagan on the bench, none-too-pleased with his young charge's effort. It came after unselfish second gamer Keidean Coleman could have kicked his first career goal but handpassed to an unsuspecting Dan McStay in the goalsquare who missed with his volley attempt. 

    00:47 Mins
    Published on

    Fagan fumes after Rayner brain-fade

    Cam Rayner's decision to play on leaves coach Chris Fagan seeing red

    Published on

    A tough night for some young Suns
    Fresh off a 10-day break after destroying North Melbourne in its most recent outing, Gold Coast looked well off the pace, particularly some of its young stars. After tearing the Kangaroos apart, small forward Izak Rankine battled to get involved and it seemed the harder he tried the worse things got. Ben King finished with two goals but had little influence against fellow youngster Jack Payne, while Connor Budarick struggled to contain Charlie Cameron. Better days lie ahead for these young guns and they will learn plenty from the experience of playing the Lions. 

    BRISBANE         5.4     8.6     11.10     13.10     (88)
    GOLD COAST     1.0     4.3     5.5     6.7     (43)

    GOALS
    Brisbane:
    Rayner 3, Cameron 2, Zorko 2, Berry, Hipwood, McCarthy, McCluggage, McStay, Robinson
    Gold Coast: Corbett 2, King 2, Weller, Ainsworth

    BEST
    Brisbane:
    Neale, Rayner, Zorko, Hipwood, Cameron, McCluggage, Rich
    Gold Coast: Ellis, Anderson, Greenwood, Ainsworth 

    INJURIES
    Brisbane:
    Starcevich (concussion), Berry (shoulder)
    Gold Coast: Nil

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