THE FALLOUT of another Brisbane finals failure will be felt far and wide at the Lions.
For the third successive season the club has been unable to convert a top-four home and away finish into a Grand Final berth and the second with the advantage of home crowds for much of it. They have won one of their past six finals, blowing double chances in two of those campaigns.
LIONS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats
But this time around there will be a sharper focus on the Lions who, having taken the Western Bulldogs' place in the top-four in the final round of the season, were dumped by the Dogs in a one-point thriller at the Gabba.
There will be questions on how the momentum swung late, how the Lions couldn't stop a crucial four-goal run from the Bulldogs and how the Dogs' midfield got on top. And there will be scrutiny on Joe Daniher, Brisbane's high-profile (and priced) recruit whose finals form did not match that of his home and away campaign.
Daniher arrived at the club viewed as the Lions' final piece. The club's list build had been done methodically and targeted, first mainly via the draft and then, as Brisbane's progress became clearer, through trade and free agency.
A three-year deal worth upwards of $750,000 saw him lured north by the fresh start and lack of football fishbowl, and he entered the finals set up for a huge impact.
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The ex-Essendon spearhead had been the only player in the AFL who kicked a goal in every game of the home and away season and was primed to break his own drought of not playing in a finals win (he played in two elimination final losses with the Bombers).
But after a goalless game against Melbourne, Daniher was similarly ineffective against the Bulldogs on Saturday night, registering six disposals and a solitary goal.
The task grew different for Daniher across the year as teammates fell around him. First it was Eric Hipwood, who in round 17 suffered a season-ending knee injury. Then in the elimination final his trusted sidekick Dan McStay was concussed and missed the Bulldogs clash. In the first half against the Bulldogs it was Jack Payne, brought in as McStay's replacement, who was forced out of the game with a head injury.
Daniher was the last (tall) man standing inside-50 for Brisbane, a point proved when coach Chris Fagan sent All-Australian defender Harris Andrews into attack in the frantic final term. Andrews finished with the same amount of inside-50 marks as Daniher – one.
Every game Daniher plays has its 'Joe-ments' and his first-quarter goal was typically agile and he also set up a major for Tom Fullarton in the frenzied final term with a sharp kick from the pocket. A contest that created a goal for Ryan Lester, too, was due to Daniher's pack work.
But the overall picture of Daniher's finals series didn't match the rest of his 2021.
"Joe didn’t have the best finals series, it would be fair to say. But again, the fact that McStay goes down early in the game last week and he's got two young forwards playing alongside him makes it a little bit easier to focus in on Joe and make sure that he doesn't get the ball," Fagan said post-game.
"I'd have to have a good look at the tape but just looking at his numbers I know he'd be a little bit disappointed but I know there are brighter days ahead for Joe. I'm not too stressed about that."