By JESS WEBSTER
Brisbane overcame a mid-season slump to make the finals, but lost a hard-fought Elimination Final to Aspley to end the dream of back-to-back titles.
Here is the Lions’ season in review.
By the Numbers
Ladder position: 6th
Last year: 1st
Neville Fallon Award Winner
Claye Beams, Ryan Bastinac, Ben Keays, Corey Lyons
Top 5 NEAFL MVP votes
44: Tom Bell
40: Claye Beams
39: Ben Keays
34: Ryan Bastinac
31: Corey Lyons
Snapshot: The Brisbane Lions started their premiership defense well, winning five of their first six game, but soon fell off the wagon with six consecutive defeats. Heading in to the back end of the season, the Lions found their mojo against Sydney Uni in Round 15 followed by a draw against the GIANTS. Brisbane didn’t drop another match thereafter to qualify for the finals, but came unstuck in the Elimination Final against the Hornets in a hotly-contested match at Graham Rd.
Highlight: You always enjoy victory more when it was well earned, and that was exactly the case for the Lions coming up against Sydney University in Round 15. The Lions’ backs were against the wall after six consecutive defeats, and they simply needed to come to play. In what turned out to be a thrilling contest, the Lions came from 18 points down at quarter-time to win by 11. The victory had many aspects Lions fans can be excited for about their future, with young guns Ben Keays, Toby Wooller, and Jacob Allison all among their best players, and highly-rated academy gun Connor McFadyen top-scoring with three goals.
Lowlight: The wheels started to fall off for Brisbane when they hosted Sydney in Round 8 at South Pine. With 18 AFL-listed players against 12, the Lions were favourites to get the job done. But no one told the Swans, whose commitment to the contest and even spread of contributors outplayed the Lions. Leading by two points at half-time, the Swans booted four goals to one in the second half for a 16-point win, and kick-started Brisbane’s losing streak in the process.
Star Power: Brisbane had a four-way tie for its Neville Fallon Award this year with Beams, Bastinac, Keays and Lyons all starring throughout the season. Throw in the likes of midfielder Tom Bell – who polled the most NEAFL MVP votes – and NEAFL Team of the Year member Liam Dawson, and the Lions certainly weren’t short of firepower.
What’s Next: Brisbane made a host of list changes in the off-season with Beams, Bell and Dawson among their delistings. But the future is definitely bright at the club with a number of players at NEAFL level making a case for AFL selection, and earning a taste of the elite level in 2018. Academy members McFadyen and Keidean Coleman showed promise when thrown in to the mix, and 19-year-old Ben Sloan earned a NEAFL Rising Star nomination this year.
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