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A brave Lions outfit go down to the Dees

Dinny Navaratnam, AFL.com.au  August 20, 2017 4:51 PM

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A SIX-goal haul from comeback kid Jesse Hogan has helped a nervy Melbourne all but secure its first finals berth since 2006 with a 13-point win over a brave Brisbane Lions outfit at the MCG on Sunday afternoon.

Chris Fagan's men refused to give up at any stage, closing the gap to seven points with eight and then two minutes left in the final term to cause anxious moments for Melbourne fans, whose team had led by 32 points in the last quarter.

Despite having had a wasteful day in front of goal, Cameron Pedersen kicked accurately on the run for his third as the clock wound down to help the Demons hang on, 16.8 (104) to 14.7 (91).

The Lions kicked another goal after Pedersen's major through Josh Walker, but Melbourne iced the game with a goal just before the siren from Angus Brayshaw.

Hogan returned after missing just two games with a broken collarbone to line up in the 50th match of his career in what has been a tumultuous season, having dealt with testicular cancer and the death of his father.

The 22-year-old returned in fine form to help the Demons stave off a Lions outfit desperate to avoid the wooden spoon.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin was clearly relieved after the game.

"They're an improving side, Brisbane, and they played some good footy throughout the day. They did make us earn the victory," he said. 

"I thought it was a great tussle all day in a number of areas. In the end, I'm really proud of the boys for sticking at it, and we come away with a great win for the footy club."

Bernie Vince will likely have a nervous night's sleep after his left forearm collected Lions skipper Dayne Beams' head early in the second quarter, a clash that is likely to be looked at by the Match Review Panel.

If the Demon receives a punishment, the sanction will automatically have one match added to it because of his bad record, putting his availability for finals into jeopardy.

Minutes later, Vince collided with Claye Beams, with the tough Lion forced off the field and down the race for a concussion test, but he returned for the second half.

Captain Beams was outstanding all day, racking up 33 disposals and 16 contested possessions.

Fagan was thrilled to see his side fight the game out until the end.

"We showed great spirit. The game looked like it was going to blow open early in that last quarter and we found a way to get back in the game with a chance to win it," he said.

"We didn't quite get there, but I'm really proud of the effort of our team and I've been proud of their effort all year."

Jake Melksham showed his worth, tightening his control on Dayne Zorko after the Lion was prolific in the opening term. Zorko finished with 26 disposals and a goal but his influence was limited after the first change, while Melksham had an impact himself as he picked up 29 disposals, a goal and 472m gained.

The influence of Clayton Oliver was nullified early by Rhys Mathieson, although the Melbourne midfielder showed his courage with a strong mark on the wing in the third quarter and improved as the match wore on.

However, the finest grab of the day was from Lions defender Dan McStay, who took a brilliant pack mark when he sat Billy Stretch's shoulders. He didn't waste the chance either, quickly kicking to his skipper to set up Beams' third and final goal of the day.

More to come

MEDICAL ROOM

Melbourne: Jayden Hunt had his left hip checked out in the second term but there didn't seem to be any great concern over his fitness.

Brisbane Lions: Dayne Beams copped a heavy hit from Bernie Vince in the second quarter and went to the bench but came back on soon afterwards. Vince again played villain when he collected Claye Beams in the head. He had a concussion test but returned to the field.

NEXT UP
Melbourne wraps up its home and away campaign against Collingwood at the MCG next Saturday afternoon, while the wooden spoon may be decided in the same timeslot at the Gabba when the Brisbane Lions and North Melbourne clash.

More to come

MELBOURNE              3.3    6.6    11.8  16.8 (104)  
BRISBANE LIONS        2.3    6.3    9.5    14.7 (91)   

GOALS
Melbourne: 
Hogan 6, Pedersen 3, Garlett 2, Melksham, Vince, Petracca, Harmes, Brayshaw
Brisbane Lions: D Beams 3, Rockliff 2, Gardiner, Zorko, Hipwood, Barrett, Bastinac, Allison, Close, Walker, McCluggage

BEST 
Melbourne:
 Hogan, Pedersen, Petracca, Jones, Oliver, Hibberd, Melksham
Brisbane Lions: D Beams, Zorko, Bastinac, Taylor, Rockliff, Witherden

INJURIES 
Melbourne
: Nil
Brisbane Lions: D Beams (head), C Beams (head)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rosebury, Gavine, Mollison

Official crowd: 30,422 at the MCG