BRISBANE has capped a great day for the club, smashing Essendon by 63 points at Metricon Stadium just hours after announcing a long-term contract extension for Charlie Cameron.
LIONS MAUL MISFIRING BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats
The new-look Lions kicked five first-quarter goals and never looked back, celebrating Mitch Robinson's 200th game with a 14.7 (91) to 3.10 (28) win to solidify their place as the equal competition leaders.
The victory sets up a mouth-watering contest against premier Richmond at Metricon Stadium next Tuesday night.
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Cameron, who inked a deal to keep him at Brisbane until 2025, was a major influence on the result, kicking four goals in the runaway win, including two in the decisive first quarter.
Midfield ace Lachie Neale (33 disposals) was again in sublime touch, while recalled Alex Witherden (25), Jarryd Lyons (22) and Jarrod Berry (19) were also busy.
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With five new faces in from the team that defeated Melbourne five days earlier, the Lions led by 24 points at quarter-time, 20 at the half and then kicked away.
The third quarter was a celebration of sorts, with Sam Skinner – playing his second AFL game and first in over three years – kicking an early goal, much to the joy of the entire Lions team.
Later in the quarter, debutant Connor Ballenden added to the party, kicking the first goal of his career with a lovely set shot from 40m.
It was a horror night for the heavily undermanned Bombers, adding to a worrying past month where they snuck past battlers North Melbourne and Adelaide and were trounced by the Western Bulldogs.
Andy McGrath (25 touches) played almost a lone hand in the midfield.
Answerth takes his chance
One of five Lions to come into the team, Noah Answerth reminded everyone why he was a mainstay of their success in 2019. The second-year defender was given the task of stopping Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti – a man that shredded Brisbane for seven goals when they last met over 12 months ago. Answerth totally blanketed the Essendon sharpshooter, restricting him from getting a single disposal in the first half and forcing him to be shifted into the midfield.
Neale adds to his Brownlow claims
If he's not the unanimous Brownlow Medal favourite, Lachie Neale should be. The Brisbane ball magnet added the Bombers to the list of teams he's dismantled in 2020 with 33 disposals and two goals. He was a major part of establishing the Lions' victory, kicking two first quarter goals. Neale ran around unopposed for most of the night and again had the cleanest hands on the field. Lock in another three votes.
A bit to like about Draper
One of the bright spots on a dark night for Essendon was the debut of Sam Draper. The hulking 21-year-old was more than serviceable when in the ruck, finishing with 21 hitouts and perhaps getting the better of Oscar McInerney around the stoppages. Sharing time with Tom Bellchambers in the ruck, Draper also impressed around the ground. He narrowly missed a set shot early in the match and then took a towering pack mark in the third quarter to give us a glimpse of his enormous potential.
ESSENDON 1.3 2.3 3.4 3.10 (28)
BRISBANE 5.3 5.5 10.6 14.7 (91)
Essendon: Smith 2, Parish
Brisbane: Cameron 4, Neale 2, Ellis-Yolmen, Ballenden, Hipwood, Lyons, McCarthy, Rayner, Skinner, Zorko
Essendon: McGrath, Hurley, Ridley, Parish
Brisbane: Neale, Witherden, Berry, Zorko, Answerth, Cameron