Brisbane Lions have shot at destiny, set up grand final showdown with Collingwood Magpies

The upset was on. Eric Hipwood was mown down in a tackle, Brandon Starcevich gave away 50 metres, and Jack Martin had the Blues three goals up. They were more desperate, more physical, and for 10 minutes, the Lions went to water. A huge Charlie Curnow pack mark from a clean centre clearance had the scoreline 30–1 Carlton’s way.

It took a late goal to Hipwood to give the Lions a pulse. They started to win some one-on-one balls, and found their run: Coleman, Dayne Zorko and Conor McKenna all began to pierce the corridor, and Carlton’s wall. Cameron Rayner gave them an extra physical presence at the stoppages, and soon the turnovers started to come their way.

Of course, there was Joe Daniher. Just as Harris Andrews helped steady the ship in defence for Brisbane, Daniher’s leadership and influence was equal, whether relieving in the ruck or in attack. His second goal – the last in a Lions flurry equal to the Blues’ burst – saw the home side up by a point late in the first half.

The Blues went without a goal in the third quarter. After such an explosive start, now they finally looked like they had lead in their shoes, having been playing in the equivalent of elimination finals since June. Patrick Cripps – blanketed again by Dunkley – gave away 50 metres at the first bounce of the third quarter, and a second goal to McInerney.

The Blues could scarcely afford that. The Lions didn’t quite put them away in the third quarter, but they had survived the early scare, and players that had looked anxious, like Hipwood, were now assertive. Charlie Cameron had been controlled by Adam Saad, until he wasn’t. Country Roads rang out around the ground.

A 20-point lead was always going to be next to impossible for the exhausted Blues to run down. Lincoln McCarthy – another who had important moments throughout – made it 28, and the match was done, bar a couple of last flutters. Next week – 20 years since they last faced off – it will be the Brisbane Lions versus Collingwood again.

BRISBANE LIONS 1.2 6.6 9.9 11.13 (79)
CARLTON 5.1 6.3 6.7 9.9 (63)
Goals – Brisbane Lions: Daniher 2 McInerney 2 McCarthy 2 Hipwood McKenna Lester Cameron Ah Chee. Carlton:Cripps 2 McKay 2 Cottrell Martin Docherty Curnow.
Best – Brisbane Lions: Coleman Dunkley McInerney McCluggage McCarthy Andrews. Carlton: Walsh Weitering Docherty Saad McGovern Newman.
Injuries – Brisbane Lions: TBC. Carlton: TBC.
Umpires: Foot, Stevic, Findlay, Gianfagna
Crowd: 36,012 at the Gabba.

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