The Lions had looked beaten, but had heroes of their own. Jarryd Lyons continued an extraordinary run of form, Hugh McCluggage – a footballing Rolls-Royce – got better the longer the game went, and Charlie Cameron finished with five goals. In defence, Harris Andrews and especially Marcus Adams were heroic.
While it doesn’t quite lock them into the top two in an incredibly tight race for the finals, this win was final proof that they’re the real deal this year. These two teams could easily face off again in September, and wherever it may be, that’s a mouth-watering prospect.
It was a game dominated by both team’s defences. Both are well-organised, disciplined teams, and for much of the match, the Cats were just that bit better, almost impenetrably well set up. Both sides were continually forced to the wings; out of bounds vied with the top possession winners.
Geelong held a slight advantage at quarter-time, forcing the Lions into short kicks in an attempt to penetrate the Cats’ maze. Dangerfield was already prominent, with a hand in both Geelong goals, and Mitch Duncan controlling his wing in a battle with Mitch Robinson.
For the Lions, it was a huge step up in class from last week when they destroyed the Gold Coast Suns. Given nothing like the same amount of time or space, they were forced sideways and into hurried hacks forward. But they were also holding firm in defence, Adams and Andrews dominating in the air.
In the second, the Lions began to gain territory as Lachie Neale and Dayne Zorko lifted, both kicking goals from clean hands at stoppages.
Cameron was on the board too, and was starting to give Jed Bews headaches. But in a five-minute burst to close out the half, the Cats wrested back control.
Neale’s goal had seen the Lions poke their noses in front, but Quinton Narkle outpointed Luke Hodge for the quick reply, and Dangerfield steamed through with the next centre clearance for Gryan Miers to kick his second.
Esava Ratugolea made it a three-goal break in the shadow of half-time.
But the Lions dug in, winning the third quarter, scrambling shots at goals that they were forced into from low-percentage opportunities, with several more rushed.
Cameron kicked two for the quarter, the third his 50th goal in a remarkable season. It was left to Cam Guthrie to drive through the Cats’ only goal of the quarter.
Tom Stewart pinpointed Ratugolea for the second time in the match to restore the Cats’ advantage early in the last quarter, and several times, the Lions looked gone.
But as they’ve done so often this year, the Lions found a way, and finished the game in a place surely no one expected at the beginning of 2019: on top of the ladder.
BRISBANE 1.3 4. 6.12 10.15 (75) GEELONG 2.2 7.7 8.9 10.14 (74)
GOALS Brisbane: Cameron 5, McCluggage, Zorko, Neale, Lyons, McCarthy Geelong: Miers 2, Ratugolea 2, Dahlhaus, Guthrie, Duncan, Bews, Narkle, Dangerfield
BEST Brisbane: Lyons Adams McCluggage Cameron Neale Andrews. Geelong: Dangerfield Stewart Kelly Duncan Selwood Ablett.
INJURIES Brisbane: Christensen (hamstring) Geelong: TBC
Umpires: Donlon, Foot, Hosking
Official crowd: 35,608 at the Gabba
P Dangerfield (G) 9
J Lyons (BL) 8
M Adams (BL) 7
T Stewart (G) 7
H McCluggage (BL) 7