Melbourne's Alex Neal-Bullen in action against Brisbane at The Gabba on August 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

A COMBINATION of unfortunate timing and some cheeky camera work.

That's what Melbourne forward Alex Neal-Bullen thinks you can blame for last Friday night's sickening moment where he was left vomiting on the field after a nasty behind-the-ball clash with Brisbane defender Noah Answerth.

The hit caused some serious damage to Neal-Bullen in the aftermath, leaving the important Demon severely winded and retching on the ground for an extended period following a spiteful 58-point win over the Lions.

It will also see Answerth miss next week's elimination final against Richmond, after he accepted a one-match suspension for intentionally striking his opponent in an incident that was graded as 'medium impact' by the AFL's Match Review Officer.

But after returning to the field and playing out the game, finishing with one goal from 14 disposals and seven marks as Melbourne secured its top-four hopes, Neal-Bullen can finally laugh about the nauseating moment now.

Alex Neal-Bullen is tackled by Zac Bailey in Melbourne's match against Brisbane at The Gabba on August 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"It was a bit of unfortunate camera work," Neal-Bullen told

"The timing wasn't great, but we're all good now. I'm ready to continue on with training and getting ready for the Swans. But it was a physical game. It was almost finals-like, because both teams were playing for a double-chance.

"Both teams have had recent finals success, so we understand what's at stake during a finals campaign. But we like to think our culture and our brand as a footy club holds up in finals. That's something we strive towards every week."

Melbourne's convincing round 23 victory over Brisbane secured the reigning premier a second-place finish and set up a blockbuster qualifying final against Sydney at the MCG next Friday night.

Melbourne players celebrate after defeating Brisbane at The Gabba on August 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The two sides have already met at the 'G this season, with the Swans running over the top of the Demons in a shock 12-point upset back in June. According to Neal-Bullen, footage of that contest will be studied intensely over the next week.

"That was one of those key moments throughout the year," Neal-Bullen said.

"That game really stands out. We had to look at what went wrong in that game and what Sydney does really well. Sydney has a great, balanced team.

"They've got some superstars, but it's being that core role-playing group that they strive towards. For me, that's a key component as to why Sydney has done so well. It's a credit to them, they're a quality footy side."

Melbourne begins its finals campaign with hopes of winning back-to-back flags, having claimed a drought-breaking premiership at Optus Stadium last year, and will draw from their experience in September one season on.

Christian Petracca and Alex Neal-Bullen celebrate Melbourne's 2021 premiership. Picture: AFL Photos

"You can definitely draw from finals campaigns," Neal-Bullen said.

"For me, this is only my third finals campaign. In 2018, we made the prelim. You take learnings out of that. Last year, you take learnings from that finals campaign.

"Throughout your exposure to finals footy, you can draw things from them. In the big moment, and after the big build-up, you can relate to it and it feels familiar.
"But understanding to be a great team, you need to adapt and evolve as a footy side and that's what we're striving towards. That starts next Friday night against the Swans."