BRISBANE has underlined its premiership credentials with an emphatic 20-point win on the road against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday.
Questioned after last week's collapse at the hands of Geelong, the Lions bounced back with a mature performance to stamp their place in the top four and keep the Giants outside the top eight.
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Kicking the first four goals of the game, the Lions were made to work after half-time before securing the 13.10 (88) to 10.8 (68) win with the first three majors of the final term.
LIONS BOUNCE BACK Full match coverage and stats
It was made even more impressive with raging Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale's (20 disposals) influence subdued by Giants tagger Matt de Boer in the first half, opening the door for Jarrod Berry, Hugh McCluggage and Jarryd Lyons to take control.
Key back Harris Andrews blanketed Giants spearhead Jeremy Cameron in the first half, collecting eight intercept possessions and keeping Cameron goalless.
The reigning Coleman medallist then got separation on Andrews during the third term and kickstarted a mini Giants fightback and run of four consecutive goals.
With Geelong's seven-goal third term from last week fresh in their memories, the Lions steadied through Cameron Rayner, while several Giants undisciplined acts – including a Lachie Keeffe 50m brain fade – cost them in the final term.
To highlight their dominance, the Lions had 22 more inside 50s and 43 more marks – including 35 in the first half.
Giants captain Stephen Coniglio (27 disposals) played his best game of the season, while returning best and fairest Tim Taranto (15 disposals, two goals) was one of his side's best.
Giants' lapses continue
In all four losses this year, Greater Western Sydney has conceded a run of at least four consecutive goals to their opposition. It continued on Saturday in the first 18 minutes as the Lions booted the opening four majors before they did the same either side of half-time. Coach Leon Cameron pointed to his side's concentration lapses when speaking at the main break, including three goals stemming from stoppages in their defensive 50 in the first half alone. While the Giants fought back with four goals of their own in the third term, it is a concerning trend in shortened quarters and has continued from last season where the four-goal runs happened in eight of their 10 losses.
No.1 pick proving his worth
He may not be collecting big numbers but everything Cameron Rayner touched turned to gold. The No.1 pick in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft delivered a perfect left-foot pass to set-up fellow small forward Charlie Cameron in the second term for an important Lions major. Rayner then flew in a pack of six for a contested mark and goal in the third quarter before a smart dribbling finish stemmed the Giants' momentum in the final term. The 20-year-old finished with eight disposals, but it defied his impact on the outcome.
The battle of the All-Australians
Since Jeremy Cameron's five-week suspension for striking Harris Andrews in 2018, the match-up between the pair has always been must-watch. In the first half on Saturday, Andrews dominated his fellow 2019 Virgin Australia All-Australian. Holding Cameron goalless to that point, Andrews had six marks of his own, with eight of his 11 possessions coming as intercepts. Leon Cameron changed the Giants' structure after half-time, giving Cameron separation on Andrews at stages as the Giants spearhead kicked two goals which could've been three if not for a missed regulation set shot midway through the final term.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.3 4.4 8.5 10.8 (68)
BRISBANE 4.4 7.5 10.6 13.10 (88)
Greater Western Sydney: Himmelberg 3, Taranto 2, Cameron 2, Finlayson, De Boer
Brisbane: Cameron 2, Rayner 2, Bailey 2, Zorko, Neale, McCarthy, Lyons, Hipwood, Martin, McCarthy
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio, Whitfield, Perryman, Taranto, Kelly, Cameron
Brisbane: Andrews, Zorko, Bailey, Cameron, Neale, J.Berry
Greater Western Sydney: Nil