BRISBANE may not have to leave the Gabba again in pursuit of this year’s AFL premiership after locking in a top-two position with a 32-point win over Sydney.
Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale will come under scrutiny from the match review officer over a tackle that left Nick Blakey nursing a sore head after it hit the turf.
But there didn’t appear to be any malice in the third-quarter incident and Blakey played out the match as the Lions posted an 11.7 (73) to 6.5 (41) victory on a wet Sunday night in Cairns.
The result means Brisbane, who host Carlton at the Gabba in round 18, will receive two home finals for the second straight season.
It could prove to be a smooth passage to a unique October 24 grand final that will also be played on their home deck, with Victoria unable to host matches during its COVID-19 wave.
Just days after Brisbane coach Chris Fagan put perceived rough treatment of Neale by opponents on the agenda, his star ball-winner was frustrated by close- checking Sydney youngster Ryan Clarke.
Neale was limited to a personal season-low 15 disposals as torrential rain at times made life difficult for both sides.
Sydney held a narrow five-point lead at quarter-time despite losing Lewis Taylor to a foot injury early, with veteran midfielder Luke Parker and young forward Will Hayward making their presence felt.
Dayne Zorko constantly sought to give Neale space at stoppages and Brisbane gradually turned the tide, taking control during the second term as they kicked two goals and kept Sydney scoreless.
But the dogged Swans wouldn’t go away and cut the margin to two points during the final term when Parker kicked truly before Brisbane ended the contest with a flurry of late goals.
Charlie Cameron, Zac Bailey and Eric Hipwood kicked two goals each for the Lions.
Jarryd Lyons, Hugh McCluggage and ruckman Oscar McInerney were strong contributors in the middle.
Experienced trio Josh Kennedy, Jake Lloyd and Parker were Sydney’s best, with Parker and Hayward kicking two goals apiece.
Ruckman Joel Amartey managed just three disposals as he became the Swans’ seventh debutant of the season.
Brisbane next hosts Carlton on Saturday night to tune-up for the finals, while Sydney’s season comes to a close the following day when they meet Geelong.
(C) AAP 2020
BRISBANE LIONS 1.1 3.3 5.4 11.7 (73)
SYDNEY 2.0 2.0 3.3 6.5 (41)
Goals: Brisbane Lions: C Cameron 2 E Hipwood 2 Z Bailey 2 C Ellis-Yolmen D McStay D Zorko J Lyons K Coleman. Sydney: L Parker 2 T Papley 2 W Hayward 2.
Umpires: Shaun Ryan, Andrew Heffernan, Andre Gianfagna.
Venue: Cazaly’s Stadium.