WITH Brisbane on the end of a Lance Franklin avalanche early in the third quarter of Sunday's win over Sydney, one man stood up to arrest the momentum.

Lachie Neale had watched his team's 33-point half-time lead dwindle to just three points in a matter of minutes and decided enough was enough.

After Brisbane won the ensuing centre clearance, it was Neale that gathered a ground ball inside 50 to snap a goal on his right foot and stop the bleeding.

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A minute later he was at it again, this time inside the defensive 50, racing back to scoop up a loose ball from the feet of Franklin to clear the trouble.

And then again five minutes later, Neale expertly roved a marking contest to give a lovely soft handball to Jarryd Lyons who flicked it on to Dan McStay for another goal.

00:52 Mins
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Neale gives Lions much needed goal to stem the flow

Lachie Neale ended Sydney's run of consecutive goals as he snapped through this beauty to keep his Lions ahead

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Brisbane had seen off the trouble.

All in all, Neale gathered 12 disposals for the quarter and saw the Lions to safe ground once again.

That 30 minutes perfectly encapsulated the impact Neale is having on not only Brisbane, but the AFL this year.

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Following a season in which he suffered back, ankle, shoulder and calf problems in 2021, the midfield maestro has bounced back with a vengeance.

There's a strong argument he is currently playing better than his record-breaking Brownlow Medal-winning season of 2020, and statistics back it up.

Neale had a flawless pre-season, completed every training session, and shoved his nose into the front of the best running group like never before.

Lachie Neale celebrates a goal for Brisbane against Essendon in R2, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"I feel body-wise, fitness levels, performance-wise, I can definitely have my best year this year," Neale said on the eve of his 200th game in April.

"It's still early … but I've set myself up to have one of my better years.

"Talk's pretty cheap at this point in time, I've got to go out and deliver.

"I'm loving my footy more than ever. I feel a bit rejuvenated and I'm as hungry as I've ever been."

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Neale announced his blue-chip form in round two against Essendon, finishing with 41 disposals, 12 clearances and two goals, and he hasn't looked back.

His raw numbers are gaudy, but what he's doing goes far beyond that.

In 2020, Neale amassed 31 Brownlow votes from 17 matches, which set a new record for votes a game (1.82) under the 3-2-1 system.

Lachie Neale shows off his 2020 Brownlow Medal. Picture: AFL Photos

Statistics provided by Champion Data normalised to account for the shorter quarters two years ago, show he's ahead in almost every metric this season.

Contested possessions, where Neale leads the AFL, clearances, ground ball gets and tackles are all up.

But, like the most damaging midfielders in the competition, his best work is coming in the front half of the ground.

Neale's kicking has gone to a completely different level this season, helping Brisbane to return to the most potent attacking unit in the League.

Lachie Neale

2020 Avg. (Normalised*)

2022 Avg.

Contested Possessions

15.6

17.1

Groundball gets

12.0

13.3

Groundball gets (F50)

1.5

2.4

Clearances

6.8

7.7

Clearances (FH)

2.6

3.1

Tackles

3.9

5.1

Kicking Efficiency

62.2%

67.3%

Kicking Efficiency (FH)

54.1%

64.4%

Kick Rating

-3.7%

+3.4%

Kick In50 Retention rate

39.7%

50.0%

Kick In50 to Mark %

9.5%

30.0%

Score Assists

0.5

1.0


His kicking efficiency is up, particularly in the front half, as is his overall kick rating, going from a negative to a substantial positive.

A whopping 30 per cent of Neale's kicks inside 50 are resulting in marks for Lions teammates, more than three times the number he finished with in 2020. And every second kick inside 50 is being retained by Brisbane.

Not only is Neale winning more ball and using it more effectively than ever, he's setting up so many of Brisbane's scoring opportunities.

It all adds up to a version of himself than we've never seen before.