Brisbane has begun its quest to go one step further after last year’s preliminary final heartbreak, hosting a young Sydney side on Saturday night.
The Lions (14-3, 124.9% last year) can this year become just the sixth team in the AFL era to finish in the top two on the ladder in three consecutive seasons.
The Swans (5-12, 82.6% last year) are likely facing another year of rebuilding but have plenty of promising youngsters on their list, including three debutants tonight from the 2020 draft – Logan McDonald, Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden.
The medical subs for each side were Will Hayward (Sydney) and Rhys Mathieson (Brisbane).
Zac Bailey gave Brisbane the perfect start with a goal 25 seconds into the match, and added another two minutes later. Joe Daniher then delivered his first Brisbane goal – though it wasn’t exactly pretty.
Sydney finally got on the board through top draft pick and debutant Logan McDonald, with his first of what should be many career goals.
Daniher was then reported for elbowing Sydney’s Dane Rampe, in an incident very similar to David Astbury’s from Thursday night which saw the Tiger fined $2000.
James Rowbottom was checked by Swans medicos after copping a knock to his left knee, but the visitors continued to fight, with McDonald hitting the post in the final seconds of the term. Brisbane led 3.3 (21) to 2.4 (16) at quarter-time.
The Swans’ charge continued in the second term, with draftee Errol Gulden setting up a Callum Mills goal and then kicking one of his own.
Follow-up goals to Isaac Heeney, Gulden and Sam Wicks, set up by dominance in the clearances, made it seven in a row and put the Swans a surprising 25 points up. Then the hosts woke up, with a five-goal run capped off by Oscar McInerney to re-take the lead.