A second consecutive preliminary final appearance highlighted the Brisbane Lions' consistency, however after a 9-0 start they may feel their Smithy's VFL season finished one week too early.
BY THE NUMBERS
Position: 4th (after finals)
W-L-D (%): 14-6-1 (140.6%)
Players used: 40
Played every match: 2 – Harry Arnold* and Darryl McDowell-White (*also played with the Sydney Swans)
AFL players used: 23
Debutants: 11 – Noah Answerth*, Joel Budarick, Owen Collins, Josh Cooper, Jaspa Fletcher, Darcy Gardiner, Elijah Glass, Bailey Gordon, Sam Marshall, Brad McDonald and Daniel Rich* (* previously played NEAFL)
Best and Fairest: 1st: Jarryd Lyons, 2nd: Wylie Buzza, 3rd: Jaxon Prior, Harry Sharp and James Tunstill
J.J. Liston Trophy votes: Jarryd Lyons (26 – winner), Rhys Mathieson (13), Deven Robertson (11)
Coaches MVP votes: Jarryd Lyons (77), Deven Robertson (47), Rhys Mathieson (31)
VFL Team of the Year representatives: Jarryd Lyons
Goalkickers: Wylie Buzza (40), Kai Lohmann (31), Tom Fullarton (30)
(Averages – minimum 6 matches)
Disposals: Jarryd Lyons (31.4), Rhys Mathieson (29.4), Deven Robertson (28.7)
Kicks: Jarryd Lyons (18.4), Jaxon Prior (17.9), Callum Ah Chee (15.4)
Handballs: Rhys Mathieson (17.2), Deven Robertson (15.7), Jarryd Lyons (13.0)
Marks: Jaxon Prior (7.0), Darragh Joyce (6.6), Callum Ah Chee (6.2)
Tackles: Deven Robertson (7.1), Noah Answerth (5.3), Jarryd Lyons (4.6)
Hitouts: Darcy Fort (23.3), Kalin Lane (16.3), Henry Smith (8.9)
Clearances: Jarryd Lyons (7.6), Rhys Mathieson (7.5), Darcy Fort (6.6)
Inside-50s: Jarryd Lyons (6.1), Rhys Mathieson (4.7), James Tunstill (4.3)
Rebound-50s: Jaxon Prior (4.8), Callum Ah Chee (4.1), Darragh Joyce (3.8)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Lions started like a house on fire as they looked to go one better than last year’s preliminary final appearance. They won their first nine games, including claiming the scalps of Werribee, Footscray, Collingwood and Southport in the first four weeks. They mostly avoided any risk of upsets against the lower-ranked clubs, banking wins of 83, 68, 117, 111 and 128 points among their successes. Jarryd Lyons didn’t let losing his AFL spot affect his form as he became the second player from a non-Victorian club to win the Liston Medal before winning his spot back in the Lions’ team for the AFL Grand Final. The wonderful win over Casey in Round 22 to rescue their double chance was another highlight.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Things were not quite as promising the second half of the year as the Lions went 5-6-1. They lost one game after the siren (Richmond), were held to a draw (Sandringham) and went down to Gold Coast in Round 19 despite kicking the first seven goals of the game. It sent them from premiership favourites mid-season to needing an upset win and another result to go their way in the final round just to stay in the top four. While they achieved that and made it through to the prelim, having to travel to Werribee is a much bigger challenge than playing at home – especially when a home Grand Final was also on offer.
A second consecutive preliminary final appearance shows that the Lions are not that far off the mark, but they will be a little disappointed to finish fourth after how promising things were looking mid-year. Putting that aside, the club is in excellent shape with all three teams at the pointy end of their competitions and they can expect to be in premiership contention again next year if their younger players continue their upward trajectory. 40 goals and a runner-up finish in the best and fairest by Wylie Buzza was another excellent performance, while Harry Sharp and Kai Lohmann put their hands up for higher opportunities.