Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko. Picture: AAP Images
Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko. Picture: AAP Images

Why Lions shouldn’t panic over Power pre-season loss

Despite 47 disposals from Lions ball magnet Lachie Neale, Brisbane suffered a 21-point loss at the hands of a relentless Port Adelaide in their Marsh Community Series pre-season opener at Burpengary on Sunday.

Neale was everywhere except behind the counter of the clubhouse canteen as he continued his outstanding form from 2019 when he was crowned Lions club champion, selected in the All-Australian team and finished equal third in the Brownlow Medal count.

He had 13 disposals by quarter-time and 25 by halftime but the on-baller's pursuit of leather poisoning was not enough to keep the persistent Port Adelaide at bay who seized control during the third term and put the Lions to the sword in the fourth to power to a 14.14 (98) to 12.5 (77) win.

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Lachie Neale was everywhere in Brisbane’s loss to Port Adelaide. Picture: AAP Images
Lachie Neale was everywhere in Brisbane’s loss to Port Adelaide. Picture: AAP Images

The mercurial Steven Motlop finished with three goals and 22 disposals and was front and centre when Port Adelaide got on top and stayed on top with the final score flattering Brisbane.

Key forward Charlie Dixon kicked four goals for Port after an enthralling battle with Harris Andrews while former skipper Travis Boak quietly accumulated 33 disposals.

What you can legitimately read into a pre-season games can be written on the back of a postage stamp.

So Brisbane will not be panicking about the result. The midfield got plenty of ball and the backline was solid enough but they did not use the ball as well as they would have liked when they went forward.

They kicked some late goals to add respectability to the scoreboard but will want to be more efficient in the forward half of the ground when they take on Carlton in their next pre-season hitout on March 8 in Melbourne.

Port broke the game open in the third quarter with Motlop injecting himself into the match with two goals and some clever touches up the ground.

Rapid-fire goals from Dayne Zorko and Neale handed Brisbane the lead but it was all the Power after that, with Port kicking five of the next six goals.

Goals to Connor Rozee, Brad Ebert, Dixon and a brace from Motlop allowed the visitors to burst away from the Lions who lost Marcus Adams and Alex Witherden to head knocks.

Port took a six-point lead into halftime after enjoying the ascendancy for most of the second term when they booted two goals through Dixon and Zak Butters to Brisbane's solitary major from Hugh McCluggage.

But all the key numbers at the major break told the story that there was virtually nothing in the contest after the Lions held a slender one-point buffer at quarter-time after Eric Hipwood had a productive opening term with two goals.

Young gun Connor Rozee fires off a handball after being tackled. Picture: Getty Images
Young gun Connor Rozee fires off a handball after being tackled. Picture: Getty Images

VIDEO: TRAINER CRUNCHED AFTER SKIPPER'S SHOVE

A Brisbane trainer has found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time after being crunched on the boundary line.

The incident occurred during the first half of the Lions' Marsh Series clash against Port Adelaide.

Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko was trailing his Power opponent Kane Farrell to a loose ball which was headed for the boundary line.

As the two players got close to the line, Zorko gave Farrell a huge shove, sending him flying towards the Brisbane bench.

Unable to stop, Farrell went crashing into the trainer.

While the incident looked nasty, the trainer did appear to be OK.

 

WHAT THE COACH SAID: PORT ADELAIDE

Port Adelaide senior coach Ken Hinkley paid tribute to the performances of both Dixon and Motlop and said they were rewarded for their effort.

"(Dixon) has missed 18 months with a really bad injury. That takes a lot to come back from. He had a great pre-season. The challenge for Charlie, like us as a team, he's started really well, he's prepared really well and he's got to do it again and again,'' Hinkley said.

"I couldn't be more pleased that he's got some reward for everything that he's done.

"Steven has had to make some adjustments to his game. He needed to earn his spot in the side, he's worked really hard over the pre-season."

Hinkley said overall, his side ticked most of the boxes.

"We were pleased. We know what we are here for, we are preparing and we are getting ready and we've trained a lot of stuff over the summer. It matters to win because we are learning to win consistently but all the things we trained over the pre-season were the key ingredients for us,'' he said.

"We are pretty satisfied after quarter-time.''

WHAT THE COACH SAID: BRISBANE

Lions assistant coach Jed Adcock stood in as senior coach for the day and said Brisbane losing the contested possession count by 25, over using the ball in the first half and falling away with their fundamentals, such as handling and tackling, was at the heart of the loss.

"There's always stuff to work on. We are always learning. We think we took a fair bit out of it but in saying that we thought Port were good. Their heat, their energy was really strong, pressured well and able to get numbers around the footy,'' he said.

"You want to try and make the most of them (pre-season games) but we feel like we've put enough in place now to put ourselves in a good place. Would you prefer to win the game? Of course. Winning form is technically good form but you still learn as much whether you win or lose.''

He said Neale's 47 touches underlined his A-grade status in the competition but said he had more impact when he chose to kick rather than handball.

"He's a very good player. Can we turn those 47 and get a bit more from them? It would be nice. He was probably one of the guys early that over-used handball but we saw when he used it by foot a bit later in the game how much more effective it was,'' Adcock said.

"He's a professional. He came back really hungry after the end of last year. He's fit and ready to go and he works as hard as anyone."

Port's Mitch Georgiades was rested as a precaution due to groin tightness while Lions midfielder Jarrod Berry was also rested.

 

Does Lachie Neale need to kick more? Picture: Getty Images
Does Lachie Neale need to kick more? Picture: Getty Images

FOUR TAKEAWAYS FROM BRISBANE V PORT ADELAIDE

-FOR all of the ways that footy has evolved over the years, there is still nothing like a ding-dong battle between a full-forward and fullback. Port spearhead Charlie Dixon and Brisbane's All-Australian key defender Harris Andrews had a bone-crunching one-on-one duel all day. Dixon took the points in the clash between the two big Queenslanders with his four goals although Andrews also had his moments.

-FORMER Hawks defender Grant Birchall goes to great lengths to point out that he is no Luke Hodge - not the same sort of leader and not the same sort of defender as his ex-Hawthorn teammate and fellow four-time premiership player. That may well be true but his influence on Brisbane could still be significant. He didn't get a lot of the footy but when he did, he made good decisions and appeared to have plenty of time while constantly communicating with his teammates.

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-Port Adelaide senior coach Ken Hinkley said earlier this month that the Power could give the flag a shake, declaring, "look out, we're coming". Burpengary in February is a VERY, very long way from the MCG in September but without State of Origin stars Robbie Gray and Scott Lycett, Port attacked the contest with an intent that signals they mean business.

-Eric Hipwood battled manfully for three goals but he didn't get enough help in the Brisbane forward line. The Lions midfield is very strong and the backline is a rock-solid but they need to share the goalkicking load if Charlie Cameron has a quiet day like he had on Sunday.

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