AFLW Finals

With stars like Ally Anderson on every line, the well-oiled machine that is the Brisbane Lions is ready for finals. (Picture: Brisbane Lions)

There’s no better time to make a statement than the round heading into AFLW finals, and this one saw Brisbane with one hand on the minor premiership.

Early on the Lions had to make the most of few opportunities, but by the end, they were scoring at will on their way to a 45-point win over Collingwood on the Gold Coast.

Brisbane midfielder Ally Anderson credited the team-first mentality of the side that has seen them conquer their finals rivals in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Collingwood.

“We play our best footy when every single one of our teammates is performing, so we try and make each other great,” Anderson told The Inner Sanctum.

“[Playing] those teams, we know we all have to perform – we all have to work together. Just that being reliable and not remarkable, but just doing a job.

“It’s definitely a full team effort, playing against those better teams.”

The strong trust and support that the team shares is critical in their well-oiled machine of a side, with Anderson speaking glowingly about the friendship the group has.

“We all love each other, and we love hanging out together, and we really bounce off each other and have really good energy,” she said.

“I think that sort of thing comes naturally, we’re genuine friends before teammates. That just makes our job on the field so much easier because we all want to protect each other and play for each other.

“Having those good relationships is so vital.”

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A good relationship that has blossomed over the last few seasons for Anderson is with Tahlia Hickie, a former under-age teammate of hers.

Hickie has come a long way in a short time, and Anderson couldn’t be prouder.

“I was lucky enough to play with her at Coorparoo, back when she was only a younger kid,” she said.

“To see her develop and flourish as she has over the last couple of years has been so amazing to watch.

“I remember she was very quiet and very shy in her first year, and she didn’t get many games, so to see her come out of her shell and be really confident and be such a dominant ruck, she’s so athletic.

“She’s such an incredible player, and she’s only so young so she’s got so much upside to her.”

With three games minimum standing between the Lions and a second flag, Anderson spoke about what the Lions are focused on to get there.

“I think it’s just focusing on that team mentality, we’re a unit and we really want to win together,” she said.

“Go back to training this week, work on a few things, and then just really focus our heads, week by week, and focus on the week and the games coming up.”

Not handling the heat

In the defeated camp, Collingwood coach Steve Symonds conceded that the Lions’ pressure was too strong on the night.

“Their pressure has been outstanding and they’re a very good team,” he said.

“You know them, and Melbourne are probably considered the best two teams in the competition at the moment.

“We walk away feeling like we still had some very good moments in the game, and some areas that we did well, but we’ve got a bit of work to do in our front third, there’s no doubt about that.

“Hats off to Brisbane, they’re a very good team, very well drilled, play a really good method, and once they got the ball in their front half it was hard to shift it.”

Despite the result that has Collingwood now staring down the barrel of an elimination final, Symonds is not all doom and gloom.

“The key learning for us is when we get the game on our terms, we can be a really strong team,” he said.

“I think if you took the scoreboard away a little bit we had some really good patterns of the game, what we’re looking for.

“We’ve just got some areas we need to tidy up at the back end. The last few minutes of quarters, they kicked five goals in the last three or four minutes of the first half and that cost us on the scoreboard.

“We’ll keep working on it, certainly not throwing out what we’re trying to do – we’re heading in the right direction we feel, obviously the better teams challenge us at the moment in a few areas.”

Brisbane will host a qualifying final next week, while Collingwood will face a do-or-die an elimination final.

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