The Suns were more than a match for the Lions in close, with ruckman Jarrod Witts easily outpointing Oscar McInerney in the air and putting the ball out on a plate for his midfielders, with Bailey Humphrey especially influential.
It was once the ball got into space that it was a different story. Hugh McCluggage, who has worked into this year slowly, had his best and most creative outing for the season, and Neale remains deadly inside and out.
The Suns also kept shooting themselves in the foot, turning the ball over in defence: young Mac Andrew spoiled an otherwise excellent aerial game with his kicking. Sean Lemmens had the better in an excellent stopping job on Charlie Cameron, but he too gave the ball up.
Such lack of composure at key moments was in the end the main difference between the sides. The Lions are ripe for a premiership tilt now, and played like a team that means business and with bigger things ahead. The Suns are still searching.
Brisbane Lions 4.2 6.6 10.8 16.11 (107)
Gold Coast 2.5 5.6 8.9 9.10 (64)
Brisbane Lions: Daniher 4, Cameron 2, McCarthy 2, Hipwood 2, Ashcroft, Bailey, Sharp, Berry, McCluggage, Gunston.
Gold Coast: King 3, Lukosius 2, Casboult, Rosas, Holman, Humphrey.
Brisbane Lions: Neale, McCluggage, Daniher, Dunkley, Ashcroft.
Gold Coast: Humphrey, Ballard, Witts, Rowell, Lemmens, Andrew.
Dockers make statement, leaving Cats in another hole
Geelong are fighting to remain in the top eight after Fremantle’s run and carry inflicted back-to-back defeats on the limping premiers.
The Cats, battling injury issues, will leave Perth and round 10 with only a 50 per cent winning record. In what has been a season of fluctuating fortunes for the premiers – they lost their opening three games, then won five straight, before again falling back – their struggles have been one of the major surprises.
While they remain one of the major premiership threats, they have work to do to regain momentum after being held goalless in the final term and falling to a 29-point loss at Optus Stadium.
The Dockers, meanwhile, have won three straight, including wins over last year’s grand finalists the Swans and now the Cats. Two wins from their opening seven rounds seems like a distant memory.
The Dockers led by 10 points at the final change, their ability to hit a target inside attacking 50 pivotal. In a tight final term, they were able to lock the ball in their forward half, James Aish prospering from a high tackle by Tom Atkins. Two more goals followed quickly, and this contest was over.
The Cats are known for their strong work at the stoppages, but it was the Dockers who held sway, booting 10 goals from this key part of the game. They also dominated uncontested possession, allowing them to control the tempo when the result was in the balance.
Dockers star Andrew Brayshaw was superb through the midfield with 33 disposals and 10 tackles, while Jaeger O’Meara continued his fine recent form after a shaky start to life at his third club. The Dockers’ pressure and willingness to hunt the ball and man did not abate, allowing key forward Jye Amiss to capitalise.
The Cats did not have a stand-out performer, but wingman Isaac Smith and rebounding half-backs Tom Stewart and Zach Tuohy provided great drive. Jeremy Cameron began well but faded and was goalless. Tom Hawkins was a dangerous target, enjoying a fine battle with Alex Pearce, while Mark Blicavs was his typical versatile self.
Nat Fyfe is a precious commodity, and the Dockers are doing all they can to maximise their injury-riddled natural resource. Through the past fortnight, Fyfe has started as the substitute, but against the Cats he was the man subbed off in the third term, when the home team held the scoreboard advantage. Fyfe enjoyed a strong afternoon with 17 disposals, and was flying for marks the way he once did. The dual Brownlow medallist said during the week he could not launch as he once did, but he was airborne in the second term, although he was unable to complete the mark.
Cameron is arguably the game’s best player, and his all-round skills and endurance were displayed when he set up Hawkins for a timely goal in the second term. Key forward Cameron, who loves to roam the field, distributed the ball at half-back, dashed to half-forward and found space to receive it back, before hitting up Hawkins on the lead.
The Dockers have prospered from strong forward pressure recently, and that was highlighted when they were able to lock the ball inside their attacking 50, leading to a superb Caleb Serong snap midway through the second term – his first goal of the season. It was the Dockers’ third goal of the day from stoppages.
Tanner Bruhn is seen by some as the man who will eventually replace Patrick Dangerfield as the Cats’ midfield bull. The former Giant showed why in a strong first term, when he had eight touches, a team-high three clearances, and a team-high 267 metres. However, he faded through the second and third terms.
Geelong: Blicavs, Tuohy, Stewart, Hawkins.
Fremantle: Brayshaw, O’Meara, Serong, Banfield, Young.
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