BRISBANE’S big guns have rebooted their stuttering AFL season with a 57-point drubbing of Essendon in the wet.
Hugh McCluggage, Harris Andrews, Lachie Neale and Joe Daniher – playing against his former club for the first time – ensured the Bombers were never in the fight in the 15.12 (102) to 6.9 (45) victory.
Both teams entered with 1-3 records, the dominant victory easing any doubts for the Lions who are expected to challenge again after finishing second in the last two regular seasons.
Essendon lost defender and last year’s club best and fairest Jordan Ridley to concussion in the second term, while Jarrod Berry was reported for a slinging tackle then subbed out in the third quarter with an adductor (thigh) complaint.
The Bombers had kicked just one major at halftime and Daniher twisted the knife early in the third term when he marked and played on to create a 41-point lead for the first of his two goals.
Earlier, the returning Daniel McStay showed his importance with two goals, while third-gamer Jaxon Prior and Neale both also managed two and McCluggage had 19 touches and a goal in a scene-setting first half.
Lincoln McCarthy (10 tackles) was a constant menace while Andrews was slick in defence despite the slippery ball and Daniel Rich broke the game open with a staggering 906m gained with his booming left foot.
Eric Hipwood slowly saw more ball as he finished with three goals as the Lions stretched out in their first Gabba appearance since a season-opening loss to Sydney.
Neale (38 disposals) has battled a back complaint this season but there was evidence it’s improving as he hoped, the Brownlow Medallist cleaner in traffic and direct with his ball use in his best game of the season.
And Jarryd Lyons amassed 22 contested possessions among 36 disposals in another understated effort.
The surface was drenched by a pre-game storm but, despite a mounting penalty count that finished 32-16 in favour of the Bombers, the Lions relished the tough conditions.
It took a 50m penalty midway through the second term for the Cale Hooker to kick Essendon’s first goal, the forward finishing with four of his side’s six goals.
Essendon was powered by Zach Merrett (36 disposals), Kyle Langford (27 touches) and Andrew McGrath (30 touches, 12 tackles).
But while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti – in his 100th consecutive AFL game – did his best, there was little go-forward to show for it.
(C) AAP 2021
BRISBANE LIONS 4.2 7.5 12.6 15.12 (102)
ESSENDON 0.3 1.5 4.6 6.9 (45)
Goals: Brisbane Lions: E Hipwood 3 D McStay 2 J Daniher 2 J Prior 2 L McCarthy 2 L Neale 2 C Cameron H McCluggage. Essendon: C Hooker 4 A McDonald-Tipungwuti J Stringer.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Simon Meredith, Dan Johanson.
Official Crowd: 23,544 at Gabba.