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Melbourne's round one plans take a hit in loss to Lions

JLT Highlights: Melbourne v Brisbane Lions The Demons and Lions clash in the JLT

MELBOURNE's round one preparations have been dealt a significant blow with James Harmes, Braydon Preuss and Jay Kennedy Harris all hurt in games against Brisbane, while star recruit Steven May is likely to face MRO scrutiny for a bump on Jarrod Berry.

 

Run-with midfielder Harmes was taken to hospital after suffering a compound fracture of his little finger while tackling Lachie Neale in the second quarter of Melbourne's seven-point loss to the Lions in the JLT Community Series, while Kennedy Harris (knee) was sent for scans after landing awkwardly on his left leg in a first-quarter marking contest.

Preuss suffered a groin injury during the third quarter of Saturday's curtain-raiser match between the Casey Demons and Brisbane's NEAFL team and took no further part in the game.

LIONS EDGE DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

But the Demons' biggest worry could centre on May's availability after the former Sun appeared to collect Berry's chin with his shoulder during the final term of the JLT game.

May's hopes of escaping suspension could be helped by the fact Berry was able to walk from the ground unassisted.

 

As concerning as these developments were ahead of its season opener against Port Adelaide in two weeks' time, Melbourne was heartened by the successful returns of co-captains Nathan Jones (hamstring) and Jack Viney (ankle), and forward Jake Melksham (hamstring) in Saturday's curtain-raiser.

Brisbane did not emerge unscathed from Saturday's 16.8 (104) to 15.7 (97) JLT win either, with emerging ruckman Archie Smith taken to hospital after suffering a knock to the throat in the second quarter.

The Lions continued their impressive pre-season form when they rammed on seven goals in the opening term, with tall forwards Eric Hipwood and Daniel McStay causing the Demons plenty of problems as Brisbane built a 20-point lead by the first break.

 

The Demons bridged the gap to two points with a five-goal-to-two second term, but the Lions took control of the match with a four-goal third term and then withstood a final quarter fightback by Melbourne.

Demons forward Aaron Vandenberg is likely to incur a fine from the MRO after punching Neale in the stomach late in the first quarter.

 
What we learned

Melbourne: Not much went right for the Demons on the injury front, but given a relatively healthy list they look well placed to build on their preliminary final appearance last year. The new centre bounce starting positions appear tailormade for ruckman Max Gawn, while midfielder Angus Brayshaw appears ready to build on his breakthrough 2018 season. Joel Smith has played most of his football to date in defence, but his four goals against the Lions showed he has more strings to his bow.

Brisbane: The Lions' attack looks more exciting by the game. Eric Hipwood ran the Demons ragged in the opening quarter, while Daniel McStay proved an able sidekick as the Lions rattled on seven goals for the term. Hipwood also showcased his growing confidence in the air, soaring to take a speccy over Clayton Oliver midway through the second term, while his work ethic drew praise from St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt on broadcaster Fox Footy's coverage. Add former Crow and Sun Jarryd Lyons (four goals) to the mix, and Brisbane has the firepower to trouble most teams in 2019.

New faces

Melbourne: Steven May settled after the Lions' first quarter barrage to restrict Eric Hipwood after quarter-time, while he found more of the ball as the game wore on. Former Collingwood VFL player Marty Hore was serviceable in defence.

Brisbane: Former Crow and Sun Jarrod Lyons continues to look an inspired pick-up after finishing with 26 possessions and four goals, while ex-Cat Lincoln McCarthy was again a solid contributor in attack, notably setting up a Lyons goal in the second quarter with a pin-point pass. After his 31-possession game in the Lions' opening JLT win over Hawthorn, Lachie Neale again underlined his class with 27 possessions, five clearances and a goal. Draftee Thomas Berry had two possessions in limited game time.

Fantasy watch

Lions veteran Daniel Rich (DEF, $519,000) has not been a prolific scorer in the past but he could enjoy a spike this year when the Lions look likely to try to exploit his booming left foot under the new kick-in rules.

Next up

Both teams have a two-week break before their round one games, with the Demons taking on Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday, March 23, and the Lions hosting West Coast at the Gabba later that day.

MELBOURNE              4.2       9.4       10.6     15.7 (97)
BRISBANE LIONS        7.4       9.6       13.7     16.8 (104)

GOALS
Melbourne:
Smith 4, Brayshaw 3, Hunt 2, Fritsch, Weideman, T.McDonald, Spargo, Petracca, Neal-Bullen
Brisbane Lions: Lyons 4, McStay 2, Hipwood 2, Bastinac, Robinson, Mathieson, Cameron, Rayner, McCluggage, Taylor, Neale

BEST
Melbourne: Brayshaw, Gawn, Oliver, Smith, Hibberd, Petracca
Brisbane: Lyons, Neale, Robinson, Rich, Martin, Witherden

INJURIES
Melbourne: Kennedy Harris (knee), Harmes (finger), Fritsch (leg)
Brisbane: Smith (larynx)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Harris, Brown, Haussen 

Official crowd: 4215 at Casey Fields