Brisbane celebrates its semi-final win over Melbourne on September 9, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

BRISBANE saw the script, then chose to flip it on its head.

Trailing by 28 points on Friday night, Chris Fagan's side was facing a third successive belting at the hands of Melbourne, a 12th consecutive defeat at the MCG, and a fourth straight meek finals exit. The narrative was writing itself.

DEMONS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

Only this time, the Lions showed the type of resolve capable of turning cubs into contenders. A remarkable second-half fightback resulted in the most hardened and impressive of 13-point semi-final wins, sending Brisbane into a preliminary final against Geelong and bundling reigning premier Melbourne out in straight sets.

The Lions kicked 12 of the final 17 goals having fallen into their early deficit, with midfield stars Lachie Neale (26 disposals, 10 clearances), Jarrod Berry (26 disposals, eight marks) and Hugh McCluggage (25 disposals, one goal) lifting the side with tough and inspired performances.

Berry is set to come under scrutiny from the Match Review Officer (MRO) after making contact with Clayton Oliver's face as the pair wrestled.

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With key forward Joe Daniher flying back home earlier in the day to be with his pregnant partner, Eric Hipwood (17 disposals, four goals) filled his void exceptionally and was another Lion instrumental in turning the tide back Brisbane's way throughout its 14.8 (92) to 11.13 (79) win.


Melbourne, having won its first 10 games of the season, couldn't find an answer when it mattered. After breezing through September last year, breaks went against the Demons at crucial points this time around.

Those decisive moments were littered throughout Friday night's defeat.

Christian Petracca, limping through a fractured leg and a heavily corked calf, battled bravely to finish with 27 disposals and five clearances. But his impeded efforts were reflective of Melbourne's fading hopes of securing back-to-back flags.

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The Demons, having secured victories worth 64 and 58 points against the Lions already this season, had followed the same blueprint early.

They executed the type of clearance and contested domination that had laid the platform for those two wins, in what was an ominous start for the visitors.


Finding itself 23 points up almost instantly, Melbourne enjoyed nine of the first 10 scoring shots and perhaps should have led by more to justify its complete control over the contest. But the hosts kicked just 3.6 to leave the door slightly ajar for Brisbane.

Encouraged by their opposition's early profligacy, the Lions grabbed a foothold in the contest. They wasted a series of opportunities of their own before Charlie Cameron, who had overcome an early injury scare when he limped off nursing his foot, returned to the field and finally converted to reduce the quarter-time deficit to just 15.

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It didn't necessarily provide the visitors with the rush of momentum they might have hoped for, but it at least made the scoreboard manageable for much of the second term. That was until Bayley Fritsch and Kysaiah Pickett kicked back-to-back goals with time ticking away in the half in a bruising body blow for the Lions.

But, showing the type of dogged determination it had lacked in previous games against Melbourne this year, Brisbane responded to the successive setbacks. Callum Ah Chee nailed a crucial reply as time expired leading into the main break, breathing life into the contest and sparking a red-hot run to begin the second half.


Hipwood delivered a pair of set-shot strikes, Cameron snapped his second and McCluggage unleashed an exhilarating bomb from beyond 50m as the Lions delivered five straight majors to suddenly draw level.


It was the first time since the game's outset where the Demons had found themselves under the cosh, with spot fires developing across the ground for coach Simon Goodwin to extinguish. As the Lions edged closer, Petracca's distinct hobble intensified and forced him to spend extended periods on the bench.

Fritsch and Alex Neal-Bullen settled some Melbourne nerves, but by that stage Brisbane had found its groove. Darcy Fort, replacing the injured Oscar McInerney, kept his composure before Hipwood's fourth roused the Lions on the stroke of three-quarter time.

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The six-goal third term was just the tonic for Brisbane to dispel any doubts as to its premiership credentials. Dan McStay and Zac Bailey kicked truly either side of an Angus Brayshaw goal, before Hipwood's marauding run teed up Cameron to snap his third and seemingly settle the result.

Harrison Petty and Ed Langdon, two of Melbourne's better performers, did induce a nervous ending when they each hit the target in the dying minutes. But it was a damning Demon night. A pair of brain fades from Jake Lever, first pushing the ball out of bounds and then refusing to give it back, put McStay to the goal line and confirmed their fate once and for all.


MELBOURNE        3.6       6.8      8.11    11.13 (79)
BRISBANE            1.3       3.4      9.5      14.8 (92)

Pickett 2, Fritsch 2, Neal-Bullen 2, Langdon 2, Melksham, Brayshaw, Petty
: Hipwood 4, Cameron 3, Bailey 2, McStay 2, Ah Chee, McCluggage, Fort

Harmes, Petracca, Petty, Langdon, Oliver, Neal-Bullen
Hipwood, Neale, McCluggage, Rich, Berry, Coleman, Zorko, Cameron

Brisbane: Nil

Melbourne: Joel Smith (unused)
Brisbane: Rhys Mathieson (unused)

Crowd: 62,162 at the MCG