Josh Dunkley celebrates a goal during round eight, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SUFFERING one of the worst in-game injury tolls in recent memory, a courageous Brisbane has bounced back from a week under the microscope with an emphatic 34-point QClash win over Gold Coast on Sunday night.

The Lions were down to just two fit players on the bench for most of the final three quarters after Lincoln McCarthy (knee), Noah Answerth (concussion) and Darcy Gardiner (knee) were all out early in the second term.

And that came after Brandon Starcevich (calf) was ruled out following a mishap in the warm-up.

But despite getting a little wobbly on their legs early in the last quarter, Brisbane steadied the ship and won its first match of the season at the Gabba, 10.19 (79) to 6.9 (45).


The victory came in front of a bumper home crowd of 30,285 and moves the Lions to a 3-5 win-loss record ahead of a trip to Adelaide to face the Crows.

But at what cost?

LIONS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats

Following a horror loss against Greater Western Sydney on Anzac Day, the external football public asked plenty of questions, and the Lions answered emphatically.

Their pressure was high from the outset, with Lachie Neale (34 disposals), Josh Dunkley (27) and Hugh McCluggage (31) making light work of Gold Coast's tough midfield.

They won the ball at the contest and were then slick in moving it from end to end, often with little resistance.

While the midfield did the grunt work, veteran Dayne Zorko was the standout, winning his first Marcus Ashcroft Medal with a scintillating display from half-back.


Zorko, who has played a record 23 QClashes, racked up a career best 39 disposals, including 35 kicks – most of them damaging.

He wanted the win and his teammates followed.

There was plenty of other feel-good stories on the night, with Logan Morris being rushed in as a replacement for Starcevich to debut – after playing VFL earlier in the day.

The No.31 pick from last year's draft started as the substitute, but was on the field within 15 minutes and celebrated by kicking a goal.

Harry Sharp, playing his first game for 2024, kicked a brilliant right-foot checkside goal, while debutant Bruce Reville showed he was up to the standard with 13 composed disposals.


It was a disappointing display from Gold Coast, who looked flat and were always chasing.

The latest of debut call-ups
Brisbane draftee Logan Morris started his day thinking he'd play in the VFL and then watch the seniors run around the Gabba. Well, he did that, and so much more, being the latest of late late call-ups after Brandon Starcevich hurt his calf in the warm-up. Morris was thrust into the 23 as the Lions' sub and was on the ground midway through the first term when Lincoln McCarthy (knee) got hurt. The No.31 pick capped a dream night by kicking a goal in the second quarter.


 Gold Coast's first quarter woes continue
Whatever the Suns are doing pre-match on the road is not working. Conceding 5.5 and kicking just 2.1 against the Lions in the opening term continued a run of horror first quarters away from home this season. The Western Bulldogs kicked nine goals in the opening term of their round two win over Gold Coast, while Sydney led by 25 points at the first change after kicking five goals to one. 

This timeslot could be here to stay
The AFL tried a new timeslot with this fixture and the Brisbane fans did not let it down. Positioned at 7.10pm on a Sunday night, with Queensland's Labour Day public holiday to follow, a whopping 30,285 spectators rocked up to the Gabba to see the home team win. It's the largest ever QClash crowd, crushing the previous best of 27,170 in 2013. This might become a regular timeslot on the fixture.


BRISBANE              5.5       8.8       8.17     10.19 (79)
GOLD COAST          2.1       2.4       4.5       6.9 (45)

Brisbane: Gardiner 2, Daniher 2, Sharp, Morris, Lohmann, Dunkley, Cameron, Berry
Gold Coast: King 3, Walter, Long, Ainsworth

Brisbane: Zorko, Dunkley, Neale, Andrews, McCluggage, McKenna
Gold Coast: Miller, Flanders, Powell, Fiorini, Anderson

Brisbane: Starcevich (calf, replaced in selected side by Logan Morris); McCarthy (knee); Answerth (concussion); Gardiner (knee)
Gold Coast: Nil

Brisbane: Logan Morris (replaced McCarthy in the first quarter)
Gold Coast: Ben Long (replaced Ethan Read at half-time)

Crowd: 30,285 at the Gabba