BRISBANE is making a habit of statement wins in season 2019.
On first inspection, beating a Melbourne side that's fallen well short of pre-season expectations, especially at the Gabba, might not seem one of them.
But not giving it a second look would be a mistake.
Lions players celebrate their victory over the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos
This Demons side, for all its faults, was superior to every other in winning contested possession last year, and was still ranked fourth this season before facing the Lions on Sunday.
Melbourne was also No.1 for clearances and centre clearances going into the clash.
What Brisbane went on to do was as big a football insult possible to Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, who's built his team brand around dominating at the coalface.
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The Lions savaged the Demons 20-6 in the centre clearances – the biggest differential in any AFL game this season – and it was their most significant victory in that statistic since round 14, 2011.
That day, against Fremantle, the difference was 15.
For Melbourne, it was the club's equal second-worst differential ever recorded.
Brisbane also won 27 – twenty-seven – more contested possessions than the Demons, a differential that trails only its plus-29 effort against reigning premier West Coast in round one.
Eric Hipwood's high five of goals, including four in a 15-minute patch in the third quarter, blew Melbourne away, but it was four teammates, in particular, who started the rot.
Any lingering doubts about the Lions' legitimacy, given oxygen in a disappointing fadeout against lowly Carlton in round 12, were so far responded to with emphatic defeats of the Saints and Dees.
Tougher challenges are on the horizon, starting with Greater Western Sydney on Sunday, but the numbers tell us they have evolved and look the real deal.
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Brisbane's 90.5 points per match are the AFL's third-most, and no team has scored 100 points this year more than the Lions' seven.
They've also conceded a triple-digit tally just twice, something only four sides have bettered.
Inside 50 differential
Time in fwd half differential
Poss gains in fwd half
Points from fwd half poss gains
Centre-bounce points differential
Score per inside 50 %
Mark, play on (excl. F50) %
Boundary (from D50) %
So what's stopping the Lions surging from 15th last year to being a premiership contender in 2019?
There is no simplistic answer to that question, but there will need to be at least one serious adjustment, judging off the past eight flag-winners.
They all, bar the Western Bulldogs (seventh), ranked in the top three for points from intercepts differential, and also top four in points from clearance differential.
Brisbane has the second one covered – ranking equal-first – but comes in just 11th for the other.
Don't count against the Lions changing that in the season's latter stages, even if a premiership seems a bridge too far.
Rucking great start
Emerging Adelaide big man Reilly O'Brien continues to make an impression since graduating from Sam Jacobs' understudy to the Crows' main act.
The fifth-year ruckman had another 39 hitouts, including nine to advantage, against Geelong on Friday night.
It took a while but Reilly O'Brien is really starting to hit his straps. Picture: AFL Photos
O'Brien and Fremantle's Sean Darcy have the equal-most hitouts (470) of anyone in their first 14 matches – 141 clear of the next best, Billy Longer – and is outright No.1 for hitouts to advantage.
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Sticking with the ruck theme, Hawthorn's main man Ben McEvoy has endured a lean fortnight, winning a combined 12 disposals.
But is there more to his slump?
McEvoy hasn't had to share the ruck duties much in the past two seasons, but Jon Ceglar's regularly been alongside him this year.
Carlton's come-from-behind triumph over Fremantle in the west is deservedly being celebrated, after trailing by five goals at quarter-time.
Recovering from a deficit like that usually takes something special, and that's exactly what the Blues produced.
They racked up 18 consecutive inside 50s at one stage, the longest such streak in club history and the equal-16th most since Champion Data started recording the statistic.
Port Adelaide holds the all-time record, managing an extraordinary 25 in a row against Gold Coast in round nine this year.