Pies salute but Lions show bite in ferocious contest

Collingwood’s banner at the start of this game told us that the game was in trouble – at least, according to the media. Perhaps they wanted to show us what it could still be: few would have predicted that this game against the Brisbane Lions would turn into one of the fastest, most entertaining and open of the season to date.

After an ugly opening, the game lifted several cogs and was played at breakneck pace thereafter. Both sides’ prime movers were prominent: Dayne Zorko returning to form with a brilliant game for the Lions, Sidebottom continuing his golden season for the Magpies, Brodie Grundy and Stefan Martin fighting a tremendous duel in the ruck.

Sealer: Jordan de Goey’s assist to Jaidyn Stephenson capped off a tremendous contest between Collingwood and Brisbane at the Gabba.

Zorko, tagged out of the last two games, dragged his side back from what looked like an irretrievable position, 20 points down midway through the last quarter. He took a classic hanger 15 metres out to bring the margin back to 14, then kicked a checkside out of traffic to bring the crowd back into the game.

Daniel McStay made it three points with a big contested mark in front of goal. Then Jordan de Goey – who is more than repaying Collingwood after another pre-season indiscretion – kicked his fifth goal, a career-best effort, from a strong mark. Dayne Beams, also in great form, responded to level the scores.

Then de Goey sealed it, this time with a handball to a tearaway Jaidyn Stephenson to finish a tremendous contest, aided upfield by a crucial mark by the big American Mason Cox. For the Lions, it was another heartbreaking case of close, but no cigar. But Collingwood, perhaps, have a bigger problem.

A shudder had gone through the Magpies in the third quarter as Scott Pendlebury went off, taking his boot off and going straight down the race. He was back quickly, then off again, clearly impeded by an ankle problem. The results of the inevitable scans will surely be a determining factor in Collingwood’s year.

Tap out: Stefan Martin and Brodie Grundy fought a fierce battle in the ruck.

The first quarter was a rotten spectacle, with both sides turning the ball over, especially inside their own forward half. Heavy dew in Brisbane is often used as an excuse in these twilight games, but most of the clangers were being made by foot, and both sides wasted opportunities to score.

Players who were clean stood out, none more so than Pendlebury, who looks back to his brilliant best after a thumb injury curtailed his season in 2017. He strolled in for the Magpies’ first after 11 minutes. He’s no quicker than he ever was, but who needs speed when you still play the game like you’re hypnotising chickens?

Minutes later he was involved again in a chain that ended with Chris Mayne, and at the beginning of the second quarter he released Adam Treloar with a looping handball out of traffic. The Magpies looked to be bursting clear, Jordan de Goey opening up a 20-point lead from a Luke Hodge error.

From there, the second quarter turned into a frenzied shootout. The Lions kicked the next four goals, Lewis Taylor briefly pinching the lead for the home side with his first. Zorko didn’t have a hard tag and was damaging; so too captain Dayne Beams, the pair accumulating 37 touches for the half.

Clawed back: Brisbane’s Darcy Gardiner tackles Jaidyn Stephenson of Collingwood.

Collingwood steadied, though, and hit back with Josh Thomas continuing an excellent run of form with three goals in 10 minutes, Darcy Moore also getting involved in his return with a fast lead and excellent conversion from the boundary line. Then the Lions replied again, Charlie Cameron and Taylor making it a three-point game.

It gave the Lions the points for the quarter with seven goals to six, and asked some questions of both coaches. Nathan Buckley, praised for his remodelled defence this year, has been bitten by his reluctance to lock down on players. But Chris Fagan had problems, too, with Pies playmakers Sidebottom and Pendlebury also off the chain.

Neither blinked. Sidebottom continued to have a picnic for the Pies.Charlie Cameron’s influence grew for the Lions, threading the needle twice with passes to Taylor (for his third goal) and Zorko, who continued to find, and be given space. Travis Varcoe gave Collingwood space; Taylor’s speed netted him a fourth.

By this point, Pendlebury was off, and Taylor was involved again in gifting a goal by hand to Bailey. Stephenson kept the Magpies eight points clear at the last change, and he was crucial in the final exchange to seal the deal.

Brisbane Lions
3.0 10.0 14.2 18.6 (114)
4.2 10.3 15.4 19.7 (121)

GOALS– Brisbane Lions: Taylor 4, Zorko 3, Robinson, McStay, Beams, McInerney, McLuggage Berry Cameron Bailey.
Collingwood: de Goey 5, Thomas 3, Pendlebury, Mayne, Howe, Treloar, Moore, Phillips, Cox, Varcoe, Stephenson, Hoskin-Elliott.

BEST – Brisbane Lions: Taylor, Beams, Zorko, Andrews, Bailey, Martin.
Collingwood: Sidebottom, de Goey, Pendlebury, Thomas, Treloar, Varcoe.

Injuries – Collingwood: Pendlebury (ankle). Brisbane: Nil.
Umpires: Rosebury Whetton Williamson.
Crowd: 21,850 at The Gabba.

D Zorko (Brisane) 9
D Beams (Brisbane) 8
S Sidebottom (Collingwood) 7
J de Goey (Collingwood) 7
L Taylor (Brisbane) 7

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