Only time will tell if Friday night’s game was the handover that Brisbane is hoping for.
Richmond is barely old and on its last legs, but the match was a “then and now” vibe that the gabbatoire had in tricks.
Rarely – if ever – have 22,000 people made so much noise. It must have spurred the Lions on, so loud was the crowd.
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The Tigers will sit back and relax – they always do – but there’s no doubt Brisbane jumped into legitimate Premier League calculations thanks to a 15-point win.
Now both preliminary round matches will be played on the home stadium of the top team. It’s an all-powerful advantage for Port Adelaide and a significant head start for Chris Fagan’s men.
Here are some observations from an exciting evening at the Gabba.
MORE LIONS v TIGERS COVERAGE
TIGERS PLAYER RATINGS: Dusty starts strong but fades quickly
LIONS PLAYER REVIEWS: Lyons, McCluggage Star
“IT’S A FINAL LET YOU PLAY”: Hardwick wipes at umpire
SMILE OR NOT SMILE?
You cannot disapprove of Richmond’s method of joking, laughing, smiling, and then winning. It worked. Two flags in three seasons are proof of this.
Before the game, however, it was noticed that the Lions should not be involved in any frivolity. When Damien Hardwick got on the national anthem late, Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin and others laughed.
Richmond looked relaxed and at ease with what was to come. But not a single player from Brisbane smiled.
Indeed, it looked like Chris Fagan was frowning, that’s how serious he was. The difference wasn’t the game difference, but it was palpable.
Brisbane was serious. And played like an obsessed team.
CAM CLOCKS COTCH
It was hard not to love Cam Rayner’s stance in the second quarter. Brisbane followed, but it didn’t stop the boy from telling the Tiger’s skipper who was boss.
To add to his grunt, Rayner pushed forward and kicked an uplifting gate. During that tenure, the Lions have booted four majors into one and not relinquished leadership thereafter.
Lachie Neale was one of three Brisbane players who didn’t win a sale in the first quarter. A fortnight after a certain Brownlow medal, it was an incredibly smooth start from the $ 1.25 favorite.
Dion Prestia didn’t even mark him. As is sometimes the case with the oval ball, it just wouldn’t bounce in its direction.
But his answer was top notch. A long-term goal in the second season even surprised him and he ended the evening with 19 strokes.
It wasn’t his best match, but he found his way through the mud and now has a preliminary final.
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SCORE REVIEW: WHY DID WE NEVER DOUBT YOU?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s VAR in soccer, a strict LBW decision in cricket, or the score review system in soccer, the imperfection adds to the drama.
Shai Bolton’s magical ending in the middle of last season was one of the goals of the year … for about 45 seconds.
The gabba crowd was drawn to the big screen on which the ball flicked the post. By then, every player was ready to go again.
But good old Snicko perked up like a heart rate monitor and Brisbane fans broke out.
This was an example of the score verification system as it was designed.
Soon after, Hugh McCluggage shot what appeared to be a sealed gate.
Richmond players pleaded with the umpire, claiming he was touched by the shoe. As with the last call, the entire floor saw the repetition on the big screen. But unlike the previous moment, the vision was inconclusive.
DO YOU SEE THAT, SUNS?
It has already been said but Jarryd Lyons, who was pushed from Gold Coast, was a bizarre decision.
Less than two years later, the midfielder – who was reportedly too slow and not defensive enough – had 24 exits at the same level. His clean hands on the floor were a feature.
There are so many ways to make a list, but it helps when you can get a finished baller for less than the price of a stick of chewing gum.
CUBS TO LIONS
No matter how you view the Friday night game, it’s impossible not to marvel at Brisbane’s maturity.
They were bombed early last quarter and sometimes looked shot. But they held on and held on to a famous victory.
Richmond had led eleven times that year and never lost. Coming from behind against the incumbent Prime Minister is a tremendous achievement. It was even more special to do this in front of a boisterous audience.
WHERE FOR TIGERS?
Richmond had a fair portion of the game on its terms. For the first time since 2001 they are now playing in the semi-finals. It’s uncharted territory for Damien Hardwick’s men, who need a flag in 2020 to confirm their dynasty.
They’ll fight the dogs or saints, but it’s another game Hardwick would have preferred not to worry about.
Port Adelaide, where Richmond will host a preliminary final in two weeks’ time, would have watched closely. This is a classic encounter, but the Tigers can’t afford to take their next opponents lightly.
One last word
It’s hard to articulate how special it was to sit down with fans on Friday night. A grown woman on my right cried as she sang the theme song after the game. Young children hysterically jumped into their seats.
As Simon Black said Monday, the gabba’s acoustics make it louder than its capacity suggests. The place really rocked from start to finish.
Football in Queensland is healthy. The Lions are well placed to make a grand finale, and given the fact that it is taking place at the Gabba, their chances must have decreased to win it on Friday night.
This was all Final Football should be. Hard hits, great goals, good grades, deafening noise and a sense of passion for a sport that found a way to last in 2020.