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Lions bursting with confidence after positive pre-season

'We'll get a bit of belief out of that' Chris Fagan impressed with Brisbane's composure, in what was a physical game against Melbourne

THE SAYING "it's only JLT" is a popular one following pre-season matches, but Brisbane's win over Melbourne gave the Lions something they've been searching years to find – belief.

Although the Demons were missing Jack Viney, Nathan Jones, Jake Melksham and Jake Lever, Chris Fagan's young team matched their more-fancied rivals around the ground and held off a late charge to win by seven points.

It gave Brisbane two wins from two matches in the JLT Community Series and a great lead-in to a round one date with premier West Coast at the Gabba on March 23.

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After Saturday's match, Fagan said the win should give his Lions belief. That was backed up by hard-as-nails midfielder Rhys Mathieson.

"It's nice to get two JLT wins. I know it's just JLT but it builds belief," Mathieson told AFL.com.au.

 

"It's not saying we're going to win round one and round two but we've got that belief that we can compete.

"Melbourne's a top footy club, ranked No.1 in a lot of stats, so for us to compete against them on the weekend the way we did, I feel our belief has gone through the roof."

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It's also a word that has had to define Mathieson this pre-season.

Following the off-season acquisitions of Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons – although offset by the departure of Dayne Beams – the fight for spots in the midfield have escalated.

He's just turned 22 and yet to play more than 13 games in any of his three seasons.

However, after 28 disposals against Hawthorn and 23 and a goal against Melbourne, Mathieson has demanded a round one spot.

"I stayed in Brisbane for my off-season and ran with a big group," he said.

"I'm just trying to build that tank, it's not perfect but I can compete with what I've got.

"I certainly feel better. I think it's noticeable that I'm lasting longer and am not as tired.

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"At this moment my belief is pretty strong.

"I feel like I've had two good JLT games, not outstanding, but pretty good. I'm very confident I can play at the level and I want to be in there every week."

He said Neale, and particularly contested ball-winning expert Lyons, had been a big help since coming to the club.

"As long as we're improving, the belief is there now, the sky's the limit at the moment," he said.