Brisbane Lions are on the cusp of creating NEAFL history after surviving a Sydney challenge to win by 32 points at Blacktown on Sunday.
The Lions notched their 14th win in a row – one shy of the all-time longest NEAFL winning streak – as they edged clear in the final term for the hard-fought 15.13 (103) to 10.11 (71).
In an entertaining contest where an energised Swans tested the Lions right to the final siren, it was the experience and class which got the visitors over the line.
Brisbane coach Mitch Hahn said it was a good challenge for his undefeated side, which fielded 19 AFL-listed players to 12.
“I thought the Swans were terrific,” Hahn told neafl.com.au. “They brought a real energy and excitement to their team and they challenged us all day.
“We’ll take a lot of positives away (from this game) that when we got challenged, we were able to respond.
“We talked about our trademark at half-time and talked about the excitement of the challenge, and trying to get back to playing our best footy, and the guys were able to respond to that.”
The in-form Corey Lyons got the Lions on the board first but the Swans showed they had come to play. The first quarter was a goal-for-goal battle as the two sides tried to out-do each other with highlights.
James Madden booted a nice goal on the run which was followed by a snap from congestion by 17-year-old Swans debutant Braeden Campbell, who showed composure to spin out of traffic and guide one home from 20m out.
Carrying a 10-point lead into the first break, Brisbane missed a couple of shots on goal and the Swans took advantage to produce a moment Swans fans have been waiting to see.
Playing his first competitive match since 2017, injury-plagued ruckman Sam Naismith showed he hasn’t lost his touch, gathering the ball at ground level and dribbling a goal through under pressure to get the Swans back within six points.
It kick-started a string of four in a row to Sydney – two more to Dan Menzel and another to Campbell as they moved to 13 points clear at the 22-minute mark.
A late Lyons major before half-time reduced the margin to six points, and Brisbane carried on with the momentum after the main break to restore the lead.
The Lions kicked five goals to three in the third quarter, ending on a high when Lewis Taylor received the ball on the wing, took four bounces and nailed a goal on the run from 40m.
A 50m penalty and subsequent goal to Michael Knoll to start the last term gave the Swans a sniff and they crawled within five points, but the Lions’ superior fitness and class would come to the fore.
Another five goals to two sealed victory in a win Hahn said was important for the playing group to experience.
“There is no doubt the season as a whole has been a real positive one for our whole club, so continuing to drive those standards is really important for us,” he said.
“I thought today, it took until the fourth quarter, but our guys hung in there right till the end and that’s what the really pleasing part is.”
Ryan Bastinac was outstanding in the midfield with 41 disposals, 10 marks, eight tackles, five clearances and two goals, ably supported by Lyons who had 35 disposals, six inside 50s and two goals.
For Sydney, James Bell (29 disposals, seven clearances) was impressive and James Rose – who was a late inclusion for Ben Ronke – amassed 36 disposals, seven clearances and seven rebound 50s.
Menzel finished with four goals and Naismith got through the match, ending with seven disposals, 26 hit-outs and two goals on limited game time.
Brisbane now faces Southport in a top-of-the-table blockbuster next week, whilst Sydney faces the GIANTS.
Sydney Swans v Brisbane Lions at Blacktown International Sportspark
BRISBANE 4.2 5.5 10.8 15.13 (103)
SYDNEY 2.4 6.5 8.9 10.11 (71)
GOALS – Brisbane: C Ballenden 2 R Bastinac 2 C Cox 2
C Lyons 2 J Madden 2 R Mathieson C McFadyen N Robertson E Smith L Taylor. Sydney:
D Menzel 4 S Naismith 2 B Campbell 2 Z Foot M Knoll.
BEST – Brisbane: M Eagles R Bastinac C Lyons C Cox J Madden E Smith. Sydney: J Bell J Rose J McInerney D Menzel S Naismith J Thurlow.
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