BRISBANE has escaped with the narrowest of wins over North Melbourne, despite never hitting its straps against a Kangaroos side coming off a 57-point loss.
KANGAS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
The Lions gave the Roos every chance late, with Cameron Zurhaar missing a 25m set shot inside the final 90 seconds that would have taken his side within two points.
>> WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Lion Harris Andrews then took a crucial intercept mark moments later to hold off the spirited Roos before Zurhaar kicked a goal after the siren to leave the final margin at one point.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan gave his spluttering side an old-fashioned spray at the main break for not grabbing their opportunities on another inaccurate day, before the Lions held on to win 7.11 (53) to 8.4 (52) at Metricon Stadium.
The four points take the Lions to equal top spot and behind Port Adelaide only on percentage after the Power's loss to Geelong on Friday night.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
The Roos were gallant in defeat, with late inclusion Tristan Xerri (two goals) combining with Nick Larkey (two goals) to limit Andrews' intercepting influence for most of the day.
Roos ruckman Todd Goldstein did his best to give his midfield first use (the Roos won the clearances 32-26) but ultimately the Lions' midfield class of Jarryd Lyons, Dayne Zorko and Lachie Neale won out around the ground.
Playing with a heavily strapped left knee he landed awkwardly on last week, Charlie Cameron had zero impact. In his only disposal of the first half, the 2019 Virgin Australia AFL All-Australian took a hanger over Ed Vickers-Willis before getting in his face ahead of his set shot. The only problem? He missed as the Lions continued their inaccurate day. After the main break Cameron failed to register a shot on goal from his four disposals and was well held by Marley Williams.
'RIGHT TO PLAY' Fagan backs call to pick Cameron
Dodgy radar fails to cost Lions dearly
Saturday marked the seventh time in the last 10 games the Lions have kicked more behinds than goals. While it didn't cost them the four points, it's bound to in coming weeks in crucial games against St Kilda and Collingwood should it become an ongoing trend. The Lions' first five scoring shots were all behinds and left them scrambling for the rest of the match. They also missed at least four gettable shots completely. Prime mover Hugh McCluggage – who last year kicked 23.14 as one of the best kicks in the competition – managed three behinds to take his 2020 tally to 5.13.
Young Roos offers shoots of hope
In a side missing Ben Cunnington, Robbie Tarrant, Jack Ziebell, Ben Brown and Tarryn Thomas trhough injury, the next wave of midfielders at North Melbourne would have impressed coach Rhyce Shaw. While they may have lacked a touch of poise around the ground, Jy Simpkin (26 disposals) did a large portion of the grunt work with Shaun Higgins (24) stationed on a wing and former No.4 pick Luke Davies-Uniacke showed enough with his clearance work to suggest the Roos won't be embarrassed through the midfield in their upcoming rebuild.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.3 3.3 4.3 8.4 (52)
BRISBANE 1.5 3.6 5.9 7.11 (53)
North Melbourne: Larkey 2, Xerri 2, Zurhaar 2, Scott, Murphy
Brisbane: McCarthy 2, McInerney 2, McStay, Hipwood, Bailey
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Goldstein, Anderson, McDonald, Higgins
Brisbane: Lyons, Zorko, Neale, McInerney, Birchall, Bailey
North Melbourne: Walker (hamstring), Tarrant (calf) replaced in selected side by Xerri