CHARLIE Cameron revved the Gabba crowd to full throttle on Thursday night, putting on a scintillating showing to lead Brisbane to a 41-point win over the Western Bulldogs.
With the game in the balance at half-time, Cameron was destructive in the third quarter, kicking two goals and adding three direct assists for the term to give the home team a break it would not relinquish.
LIONS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats
The 16.12 (108) to 9.13 (67) triumph moved the Lions to an 11-4 record and entrenched them in the top four.
Victory came at a cost though as captain Dayne Zorko lasted just five minutes before leaving the field with a hamstring injury, and veteran Daniel Rich was off before half-time with a similar problem.
Cameron finished with four goals for the night – and five goal assists - running poor Anthony Scott ragged. In the midst of the third quarter chaos, Cameron nudged Scott aside in a one-on-one contest, ran on to the ball and slotted on the run from 30m to send the home fans into a frenzy.
But it wasn't all one-way traffic.
The Bulldogs led by 18 points early in the second quarter as Tom Liberatore (33 disposals) and Jack Macrae (32) ran roughshod around the clearances to give the visitors plenty of opportunities.
But Brisbane's backline stood strong and began to turn the tide.
While Marcus Adams waged an engrossing duel with Aaron Naughton (two goals), Harris Andrews was back to his intercept-marking best, and young half-back Keidean Coleman sliced the game open with his precise ball use.
With Brisbane's defensive pressure improving as the night wore, it kicked 15 of the last 20 goals to demoralise the Dogs and boost their own percentage.
Lachie Neale (33 and a goal) and Hugh McCluggage (26 and a goal) were the best of Brisbane's midfield, that managed to find some parity after being outplayed in the opening term.
The Bulldogs manhandled the Lions around stoppages early, racing to a lead. They won the clearances 45-30, the contested possessions by nine and the inside 50s by seven, but struggled to connect with their forwards.
Brisbane kicked five of the final six goals before the main break, with Linc McCarthy kicking two for the term and McCluggage giving them the lead with a lovely finish on the run from 45m.
Lions veterans hamstrung
Just five minutes into his comeback match from a hamstring strain, Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko hobbled off the Gabba with a recurrence of the same injury. The 33-year-old suffered the initial setback against St Kilda in round 13, and both he and the Lions thought after a bye in round 14 and sitting out last week's loss against Melbourne, the 19-day break was more than enough to recover. But alas, it wasn't. Fellow veteran Daniel Rich fell victim to the same injury midway through the second quarter, leaving the Lions short of its most penetrating ball user.
A couple of first goals in the AFL
Bulldogs debutant Dom Bedendo and Lions' second-gamer Jimmy Tunstill both had nights to remember. Bedendo, playing largely on a wing after being taken at No.55 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft, acquitted himself well, finishing with 11 disposals and a memorable second-quarter moment. The teenager slotted a 45m set shot to send his teammates rushing from everywhere to celebrate. Tunstill, who debuted seven days ago against Melbourne, had his moment in the third quarter after taking a lovely left foot Charlie Cameron pass on his chest. The young Lion then calmly went back and kicked his set shot arrow straight.
Coleman's star rockets skyward
With Daniel Rich sidelined before half-time, Keidean Coleman assumed the mantle as Brisbane's back-half architect. He was magnificent. Coleman sliced the Bulldogs apart with his precise left-foot kicking, finishing with 24 disposals and a team-high 552m gained at 83 per cent efficiency. He took difficult kicks and made them, springing Brisbane into attack time after time.
BRISBANE 1.5 6.9 12.11 16.12 (108)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.5 5.7 7.9 9.13 (67)
Brisbane: Cameron 4, Berry 2, Daniher 2, McCarthy 2, Bailey, Hipwood, McCluggage, Neale, Rayner, Tunstill
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 2, West 2, Bedendo, Johannisen, Liberatore, Treloar, Weightman
Brisbane: Cameron, Coleman, McCluggage, Andrews, Neale, Berry
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Liberatore, Dale, Naughton, Bontempelli
Brisbane: Zorko (hamstring), Rich (hamstring)
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Brisbane: Jaxon Prior (replaced Dayne Zorko in the first quarter)
Western Bulldogs: Riley Garcia (unused)