Lachie Neale and Eric Hipwood celebrate a goal during Brisbane's clash against Melbourne in round five, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

IMPROVING forward chemistry has been a major catalyst behind Brisbane's uptick in form across the last fortnight, including an impressive victory over Melbourne on Thursday.

Over its first three games, Brisbane dominated the inside 50 count, winning the metric by a cumulative 34 against Carlton, Fremantle and Collingwood, but failed to come away with a win.

"The first three games of the year, we dominated inside 50s and we weren't winning games," Brisbane head coach Chris Fagan said after the round five win.

"Maybe that was because we were connecting well, but our forwards weren't working with and for each other."

Finding that consistency in working as a unit, rather than six individuals inside 50, has shifted the Lions' fortunes, increasing their scoring efficiency (percentage of inside 50s resulting in a score) from 38.5 per cent across their first three games to 41.9 per cent in the last two weeks, with the side scoring a goal from more than half their forward entries in their wins.

Further to this, the Lions have registered the second most inside 50s across the opening five games, but are the third worst side at turning those entries into goals, generating a major from just 16.2 per cent of their inside 50s. Last week, however, the club goaled from 20.7 per cent of its forward entries.


The club came into last week's clash with Melbourne with a considered gameplan, focused on shutting intercept defenders Jake Lever and Steven May out of the game, and executed to great effect.

"We took 12 marks inside 50, which is not a bad result against Melbourne, they're pretty miserly. We wanted to try and hit targets inside 50 rather than just kicking on heads because (Lever and May) are such good players at taking intercept marks… we got enough right to get some shots on goal," Fagan said.

For key forward Eric Hipwood, establishing that connection early in the piece was crucial to his side's success.

"It's really important, against Melbourne, they like to come out and in the past they've really put on a fair few goals early on us, and we've been behind the eight ball from the start," Hipwood told

Eric Hipwood and Jake Lever compete for the ball during the R18 match between Brisbane and Melbourne at the MCG on July 14, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Personally, Hipwood has had a stuttering start to the season, but two first-quarter goals against the Demons did wonders for his confidence.

"I just come back to controlling what I can control, and I was able to get on the end of a couple of Cam (Rayner)'s surges, which is great. It was good to get involved early and I've just got to focus on playing my role," Hipwood said.

Finding ebbs and flows throughout the game is something Brisbane has enjoyed when at its best in recent years, not reliant on one or two players to dominate four quarters of footy, instead creating space for teammates to work into games in different moments.

Hipwood and Joe Daniher's early dominance then morphed into damaging performances from Charlie Cameron and Hugh McCluggage in front of the big sticks.


That, in itself, was indicative of the team-first mindset shaping the Lions' attack in recent weeks. Seven different Lions goaled against Melbourne, following on from the same spread the week before.

"I think (that spread) has been a strength for us in the last four or five years, we've got so many avenues to goal, and it makes us really hard to stop. We know we can kick a lot of goals really quickly, but it's about being consistent and sticking to our trademark," Hipwood said.

"On a big ground like the MCG, to get our ball movement going, it looked unstoppable at times which was great."

It is an aggressive style of play that Brisbane will be looking to hone in the coming weeks as it prepares to tackle heavyweights Geelong and Greater Western Sydney.