START your engines, Brisbane is off to a preliminary final.
Revved up by a scintillating performance from Charlie Cameron, the Lions have motored to the final four with a 15-point win over Richmond in their qualifying final clash.
LIONS V TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
The 10.9 (69) to 8.6 (54) win was significant in so many ways. It ended a 15-game losing streak to the Tigers and an 11-year drought without a finals win, and sees the Lions progress to a preliminary final berth for the first time since 2004.
But it also put them a step closer to booking a spot in this year's historic Grand Final decider at the Gabba, an advantage that was evident on Friday night as they rocked the reigning premiers with a dominant display.
A year since their nervous and inefficient qualifying final loss to the Tigers, the Lions this time were a side who kept their destiny in their own hands. In the space of 12 months Chris Fagan's men had gone from raw to roar, drawing on their Lions pride in the stands to give them the edge.
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The Brisbane machine got things started in the midfield, where Hugh McCluggage (20 disposals) put in a brilliant game on the wing, Jarryd Lyons (27) took on the star-studded Richmond brigade and was the best clearance player on the ground and Jarrod Berry didn't take a backward step. Daniel Rich, too, was terrific off half-back with 20 touches.
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But they were also well served by a (largely) accurate forward line sparked by Cameron's brilliance, with the Lions star booting three pivotal goals.
Cameron is the Lions' maverick – their agent of artistry – but their credentials lie in the fact they don't have a weak link. This time, and for the first time in a final since 2018, the Tigers had no answer.
Richmond, who will play the winner of Saturday's elimination final between St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs next week, were served well by Dion Prestia (20 disposals) in his first game since round five, while Dustin Martin started in the sort of form you expect from him in a final but faded.
The Lions got the early jump with a goal inside the first 30 seconds from long range via Rich, and it set the tone for a frenetic opening quarter.
The sides traded goals – an on-the-run bomb from Liam Baker and curling left-foot snap from Trent Cotchin the highlights – before the Tigers took a six-point lead into the first change.
But the Lions struck back in the second. The home side booted four goals to one for the quarter to take a 13-point lead into the main break. Three of the goals came in the final five minutes of the half, first a brilliant bomb from Cam Rayner, then an exhilarating crumb from Cameron.
Then, with only seconds left on the clock before half-time, Richmond gave up back-to-back 50-metre penalties to Lachie Neale, who slotted a team-lifting and crowd-inspiring shot from outside 50.
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It was an inauspicious start from the Brownlow Medal favourite, who went without a disposal in the first quarter, before he tallied eight disposals in a busy second term.
Some more magic between Rayner and Cameron helped the Lions extend their lead to 21 points by three quarter-time, with Brisbane missing some gettable shots late in the term that could have all but sealed the win.
Some nervous moments ensued, as Richmond got back within eight points, but a classy McCluggage snap in the last three minutes sent Brisbane through.
BRISBANE 3.1 7.2 9.6 10.9 (69)
RICHMOND 4.1 5.1 6.3 8.6 (54)
Brisbane: Cameron 3, Bailey, McCluggage, McInerney, McStay, Neale, Rayner, Rich
Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Rioli 2, Baker, Castagna, Cotchin, McIntosh
Brisbane: McCluggage, Rich, Cameron, Lyons, Neale, Zorko
Richmond: Prestia, Short, Lambert, Cotchin, Martin