MELBOURNE gave Brisbane the fright of its life, but the Lions clung on for a four-point win at Metricon Stadium to move to the equal competition lead on Sunday night.
LIONS CLAW ONTO WIN Full match coverage and stats
Brisbane led by 18 points at three-quarter time and looked the winners, but goals to Jack Viney, Nathan Jones and Jake Melksham set up a grandstand finish.
The final three minutes was a frenzy of desperate play from both teams before a 50m penalty against Bayley Fritsch relieved the pressure on Brisbane.
>> WATCH THE LAST TWO MINUTES IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
The Lions milked the clock down and won 7.11 (53) to 7.7 (49) to record their sixth win of the season and move level with Port Adelaide.
After an even first quarter the Lions put the foot down, using a big advantage around the contest to kick three goals to one and open up a decisive 14-point lead in slippery conditions.
Lachie Neale (33 disposals and seven clearances) again had a huge influence, while his midfield mates Jarryd Lyons (23 and nine tackles) and Hugh McCluggage (22 and three goal assists) were also prominent.
Charlie Cameron kicked two third-quarter goals that proved important.
Melbourne will be kicking itself after missing a host of gettable shots throughout the night that could have made a big difference.
The Demons will lose no admirers though, particularly for their late comeback when things looked lost.
Melksham was clinical with his three goals, while Clayton Oliver (28) and Viney (23) slowly arrested Brisbane's dominance around the ball.
Daniel Rich sat on the sidelines for the second half after appearing to hurt his hamstring.
Neale takes another step towards the Brownlow
In an intriguing midfield battle, some of the hardest nuts in the competition went at it for all four quarters, but again it was Lions' star Lachie Neale that came out on top. He made the wet ball look dry, continually mopping up ground balls around stoppages and in general play. Another 33 disposals, 16 of which were contested, to go with seven clearances was another three-vote performance.
Is Dan McStay in trouble?
It just wasn't Neville Jetta's night. As if being asked to mark Charlie Cameron wasn't hard enough, things only got worse for the rugged defender who copped not one, but two hits to his head. Firstly, he wore an accidental knee from Zac Bailey in the first quarter, and then in the second it was Dan McStay's hip. In the latter incident, Jetta scooped up the ball and appeared to lead with his head at the oncoming McStay who braced for contact. The hit resulted in Jetta leaving the field for the second time in the game. He returned after half time to play out the match.
So close yet so far for Rayner
Exciting Brisbane forward Cam Rayner is probably still coming back to earth, so high was his leap for a mark late in the second quarter. Rayner leapt on to the shoulders of Max Gawn, almost right over him, but spilled the mark after doing the hard work. It was a truly spectacular leap. Rayner knee caught Gawn square in the back of his head, leaving the Melbourne ruckman on the ground for 15 seconds, long enough to miss the ensuing ball-up where Brisbane earned a free kick and Lincoln McCarthy converted.
MELBOURNE 2.2 3.3 4.6 7.7 (49)
BRISBANE 2.2 5.5 7.6 7.11 (53)
Melbourne: Melksham 3, Fritsch 2, Viney, Jones
Brisbane: Cameron 2, Bailey, Hipwood, McCarthy, Rayner, Zorko
Melbourne: Oliver, Gawn, Viney, Melksham, Petracca, Lever
Brisbane: Neale, Lyons, McCluggage, Bailey, Zorko, Starcevich
Brisbane: Rich (hamstring)