REMEMBER 2020 Lachie Neale? He's back.  

The Brownlow medallist from two years ago had an injury-hit campaign last season but on Saturday's evidence has recaptured every bit of his damaging, influential best after a standout performance in the Lions' win over Essendon.

With the game up for grabs in the third term, it was Neale who lifted to the occasion, grabbing 13 of his 41 disposals for the game, kicking a goal and setting up multiple others before Brisbane ran away to a 22-point win at Marvel Stadium.

BOMBERS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

The Lions have started the season 2-0 and Neale's form has been a major reason, with Brisbane overturning a 24-point deficit early against Essendon to clinch the 15.7 (97) to 10.15 (75) win.

Neale (12 clearances, 22 contested possessions, nine inside-50s) was in everything but had plenty of help alongside him in a solid win away from home for the Lions, who faced a far-improved Essendon effort than its round one capitulation.

07:13 Mins
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Highlights: Essendon v Brisbane Lions

The Bombers and Lions clash in round two

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Daniel Rich was excellent with 29 disposals, Hugh McCluggage kicked three goals, Charlie Cameron and Zac Bailey all kicked two goals each in an even spread and Dayne Zorko patrolled the half-back line with 33 disposals whilst limping around with a calf injury.

Peter Wright was Essendon's spearhead with three goals, 15 disposals and 11 marks, while midfield duo Zach Merrett (31 disposals, one goal) and Darcy Parish (35 disposals, six clearances) were both important. Merrett finished the game with a leg issue while youngster Nik Cox was helped from the field with an ankle injury.

00:46 Mins
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Neale delivers the knockout punch

Lachie Neale topped off his dominant day with this match-sealing goal

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Wright's biggest impact came early, with the Bombers big man producing a dominant first term with 12 disposals, eight marks and two goals to steer his side to a 22-point lead.

Essendon's direct approach, thanks largely to a midfield battering that reversed last week's mauling to Geelong, gave it full control of the game and should have seen Ben Rutten's side further ahead.

But that's when things went from Wright to wrong for the Bombers as Brisbane commenced its assault. The premiership credentials of the Lions were quickly on show as they kicked six straight goals in a domination. They came from everywhere, as Bailey started the run, Cameron got involved and Daniher got moving, with his strong mark and left-foot snap coming to a chorus of boos.

00:49 Mins
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Lions make Dons pay with two in a minute

A dropped intercept mark led to Zac Bailey snapping one home before Lincoln McCarthy chimed in to make it two Lions goals in a row

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The Lions had not only scrounged back the Bombers' 24-point lead, they then established a 12-point advantage themselves, before it was again Wright who intervened with his third goal tied up against the boundary line.

The clubs went goal-for-goal early in the third term with Archie Perkins' mark and goal matched by McCluggage, before Merrett's running goal from the centre saw the Bombers reclaim the lead.

00:58 Mins
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Dons get instant reply with Merrett ripper

Zach Merrett produced this brilliant running goal to give his side the quick reply

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Brisbane bounced back from there through a Neale masterclass, kicking five of the next six goals to take a 22-point lead into the final break. An arm wrestle ensued for the last quarter, but Neale kept powering on with a late goal (and then a third overturned by the goal review) to help his side be comfortable victors.

Joe's frosty return
Daniher returned to Marvel Stadium to face the Bombers on Saturday in what was his first game against his former club in Melbourne since his free agency move to Brisbane at the end of 2020. And didn't he hear about it. Essendon supporters took little encouraging to loudly boo every one of the Lions' star's disposals across the contest, starting in the first quarter and going through to the last term. Jayden Laverde lined up on his former teammate for the majority of the game, with Daniher having a strong second quarter and finishing the game with two goals from 14 disposals and eight marks.  

Joe Daniher celebrates a goal against Essendon in round two, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Stewart's costly moment
Essendon had just cut Brisbane's lead back to 12 points late in the third quarter when a strange goal-line mistake from James Stewart handed the momentum back to the Lions. With a Zac Bailey kick bouncing towards goal, Stewart trotted towards the ball but missed touching it on the way through as it trickled in for a goal. The goal umpire called for a goal review and Stewart protested that he had touched it, but it was inconclusive that he had, so it was called a goal. Bombers great Matthew Lloyd said on 3AW he had "never seen anything like it".  

01:44 Mins
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Bailey benefits from Bomber brain fade

James Stewart had a questionable moment after he failed to touch Zac Bailey's kick on goal which dribbled through the big sticks

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Another Wanganeen (kind of) debuts
Another week, another Wanganeen making his AFL debut as the medical sub. Last week the Saints named Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera as their round one substitute and on Saturday the Bombers followed by naming his cousin, Tex Wanganeen, as their medical sub against the Lions. It has all happened quickly for the son of club legend and 1993 Brownlow medallist Gavin, having only been signed as a pre-season supplemental selection period pick-up a month ago. But having built up his fitness in recent weeks he was named the Bombers' 23rd man against the Lions and wasn't activated despite Cox's late injury.

ESSENDON              4.5       5.9       8.13       10.15 (75)
BRISBANE               1.1       7.2       13.5     15.7 (97)

Essendon: Perkins 3, Wright 3, Cutler, Merrett, Smith, Stringer
Brisbane: McCluggage 3, Bailey 2, Cameron 2, Daniher 2, Neale 2, Cockatoo, McCarthy, McInerney, Rayner

Essendon: Parish, Merrett, Wright, Perkins, Ridley
Brisbane: Neale, Rich, McCluggage, Bailey, Lyons, Adams

Essendon: Cox (right ankle), Merrett (leg)
Brisbane: Nil

Essendon: Tex Wanganeen (unused)
Sydney: Jaxon Prior (unused)

Crowd: 30,631 at Marvel Stadium