The Brisbane Lions rediscovered their 2020 form in a wet night at the Gabba.
The Lions ran riot, as they ran up the score and finished with a 57 point win over the Essendon Bombers.
The weather started out with a torrential downpour, and the Lions quickly asserted dominance in the centre, winning the clearances. Following and shuffling the ball forward, the Lions locked the ball inside 50 until they scored.
Coach Chris Fagan sung the praises of the whole team after the game.
“I thought it was a really even team effort, with a lot of players tonight who contributed,” he said.
“That was a theme all week and I thought all our guys played their role, and that was a good strong win in those conditions.
“I thought we moved the ball way better tonight. The number of inside 50s, and the way we used the handball to drive the ball inside 50.”
The hunger, aggression and tackling was reminiscent of the 2020 Lions, who ended up making the preliminary final before falling at the final hurdle to Geelong.
Once the downpour dried up, the Lions continued to attack, with Daniel Rich also showing out with a dominant performance that set up the Lions rapid ball movement.
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The Bombers managed just one goal before half time, as the Lions ferociousness allowed them to open up a significant lead at half time and run riot in the second half.
Lachie Neale was dominant with 38 touches, and Joe Daniher showed out against his former club. After carrying some injuries early in the season, Neale rounded into form with a strong performance.
Fagan defended his charge, noting that his playing through the pain was a mark of selflessness and leadership.
“Lachie chose to do the team thing, and put his hand up, and hopefully he will be rewarded for that during the season,” he said.
Daniher clutched eight marks, accumulated 25 disposals and two goals as he showed what the Lions were dreaming of when they recruited him at the end of 2020.
Fagan also sung his praises, explaining that the moment hadn’t affected him.
“He was very calm and controlled. We went for dinner on Tuesday and talked about everything other than football,” he said.
“I though he was tremendous tonight, both up the field and in the ruck.”
Fagan also noted the warm reception Daniher received after the game.
“There is still a lot of respect and admiration between Essendon players and Joe Daniher, which is great to see,” he said.
Despite the tough start to the season, Fagan believes the Lions are in good form.
The side struggled early in the season, but now find themselves in 11th position with two wins and four losses after round six.
“I think we’ve been going a bit better than everyone says we have been playing,” Fagan said.
“I think we’ve played a few good sides. It always helps to get a good win under your belt, but we were pretty rock solid that we were on the right track and just needed to tweak our ball movement a little bit.
“We’re pleased to take the four points tonight but we will move on pretty quickly.”
The Lions will now turn their attention to Carlton next weekend, their fourth game in Victoria for the year.
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