Brisbane celebrates a goal during its clash against Melbourne in round five, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

BRISBANE has celebrated Lachie Neale's 250th game with its first win at the MCG since 2022, posting a 22-point victory over Melbourne on Thursday night.

In wintery conditions, the Lions held the Demons to their lowest three-quarter time score in four years, ultimately finishing the game 12.10 (82) to 8.12 (60) winners. A late surge from Melbourne wasn't enough to overcome the 43-point deficit at the final change.

DEMONS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

Charlie Cameron shook off a slow start to the season to kick three goals, as did Eric Hipwood, who kicked two of his own.

The game was won in the middle, with Brisbane handing Melbourne a belting at the contest. Typically powerhouses around the footy, the combination of Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, and Clayton Oliver had just 61 disposals and 10 clearances for the game. Meanwhile, the Lions were utterly dominant, led by Cam Rayner's 25 disposals and nine clearances, alongside Lachie Neale (24 disposals, eight clearances) and Josh Dunkley (30 disposals, nine marks).


In the final term, the Demons did find a groove in the middle, throwing Trent Rivers into the mix as a point of difference, and enjoying some dangerous forward entries as a result, but it was simply too little, too late.

Brisbane's twin towers got the visitor off to an impressive start. Conscious of Melbourne's duo of Steven May and Jake Lever, Lions Hipwood and Joe Daniher (15 disposals, two goals) were strong in attack early. The pair were playing in front and quick to react, and as a result, beneficiaries of repeated opportunities out on the lead.


Usually so well-organised defensively, Melbourne was often caught guarding grass rather than a direct opponent, and the Lions capitalised. Working patiently through the Demons' defensive setup, they often found free players in space, and made the most of their speed on the outside.

Brisbane adapted well to the modes of the game, knowing when to take the game on and also willing to slow down and maintain possession when needed.


Where the Lions found space with ease, Melbourne had the opposite experience. Often scrappy and rushed under the Lions' relentless press, the home side struggled to neatly send the ball forward to give its targets the best chance to win the footy. That high Lions press was largely to blame for the limited output of Melbourne's forward quartet of Bayley Fritsch, Ben Brown, Jacob van Rooyen, and Harrison Petty.

For large portions of the game, Melbourne simply could not move the ball past the ground's halfway point as the Lions' talls dominated the air. The Demons often kicked to an outnumber, conceding the mark, or being swarmed on the deck.

Max Gawn did all he could to will his team on with 23 disposals and eight clearances to go with his 51 hitouts, often trying to be aggressive at the contest, spiking the ball long or taking possession himself. Meanwhile, Kade Chandler was a workhorse, with 18 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal for the night.


Brisbane's twin towers
The Lions came into the game with a plan of attack, a way to minimise the impact of Demons pair Jake Lever and Steven May. Avoiding long, high kicks into attack, instead they were more considerate kicking inside 50, opting for low, darting kicks into leading teammates. By limiting Lever and May's ability to impact in the air, Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood were able to get the visitors off to a strong start, kicking two goals each across the opening term. The connection between midfield and forward for Brisbane was clear, with Daniher and Hipwood identifying space and leading quickly, also helped by the likes of Lincoln McCarthy and Charlie Cameron who cleverly created those pockets of space.

A big quarter from Cam
As Brisbane fired a warning shot in a dominant opening quarter, Cam Rayner was the main instigator at the source. In the first term alone Rayner racked up 12 disposals, six clearances and seven inside 50s, enjoying more midfield minutes than he has been afforded over the opening month of the season. Often he was able to find time and space around the contest, with the Demons more conscious of Rayner's teammates Lachie Neale and Josh Dunkley. Rayner went on to finish the game with 25 disposals, nine clearances and 417 metres gained, signalling that spending more time in the middle might be on the cards across the remainder of the season.

Early pain for Melbourne
The Demons were forced to activate their sub not even 10 minutes into the match, with classy user Christian Salem out of the game with a hamstring injury. After challenging for a loose ball out on the far wing, Salem was slow to rise, and lame as he slowly made his way across the ground aided by a trainer. Young forward Taj Woewodin was subbed into the game, taking up Salem's position in defence for the remainder of the game, experiencing his first loss eight matches into his career.



MELBOURNE          2.0     2.4       3.7       8.12 (60)
BRISBANE              4.2     7.4     10.8     12.10 (82)

Melbourne: Fritsch 2, van Rooyen, Neal-Bullen, Lever, Gawn, Chandler, Brown
Cameron 3, McCluggage 2, Hipwood 2, Daniher 2, Lohmann, Fletcher, Bailey

Melbourne: Gawn, Chandler, Viney, Rivers
Rayner, McCluggage, Dunkley, Neale, Andrews, Bailey

Melbourne: Salem (hamstring)

Melbourne: Taj Woewodin (replaced Christian Salem in the first quarter)
James Tunstill (unused)

Crowd: 43,098 at the MCG