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Lions fall to Kangaroos in final match of season

Michael Whiting,  August 26, 2017 4:23 PM

Ben Brown kicked a career high seven goals as North Melbourne defeated the Brisbane Lions by 51 points at the Gabba.

The Kangaroos put the foot down with an eight-goal third term on the way to a 19.16 (130) to 11.13 (79) victory.

North Melbourne kicked 18 goals to six after quarter-time and could finish as high as 15th depending on other results.

It is the Lions' first wooden spoon since 1998 and a disappointing way to finish a promising year.

The Lions were best served by Daniel Rich, who had 24 disposals and was desperate defensively, and Alex Witherden (27).

They were poor and off the pace from the outset though.

"We didn't play well today," Lions coach Chris Fagan said.

"They killed us at clearance, particularly at the centre bounce.

"We're really disappointed that we lost a really important game for us, in terms of not wanting the wooden spoon, by that margin and in that manner." 

The silver lining is they will now take the number one pick to November's national draft.

Brown was the star on a warm Saturday afternoon, beating his previous best of six goals kicked earlier this season against both Gold Coast and Essendon.

"He’s had a fantastic year, just a great year," coach Brad Scott said

"Everyone’s seen the marking, the goals and all of that stuff, but the players in our team know just how important he is in other aspects too, he’s just become a very complete forward."

After a week of protesting how desperate his team was to win and avoid finishing last, Scott was delighted.

His team was hungrier from the outset, dominating the Lions around the clearances (47-30) and contested possessions (144-126). 

"I thought the endeavour and the effort was really good," he said.

"It’s always difficult when theoretically there’s nothing to play for and no carrot for winning." 

Shaun Higgins (29 disposals and two goals) was magnificent in the midfield, while Trent Dumont (26) found plenty of the ball and curbed the influence of Lions skipper Dayne Beams (18).

Both teams went to great lengths during the week to explain how they wanted to avoid the spoon at all costs, although it was hard to tell in the first half.

The skills from the two sides were poor.

North Melbourne kicked seven behinds, interspersed by a Durdin goal, in a woefully inaccurate first 15 minutes. 

And it wasn't just the young guys who used the ball poorly, with Higgins and Ben Cunnington missing two gettable shots each, and Lindsay Thomas, Luke McDonald and Shaun Atley also missing kicks that would disappoint them.

Every time the Lions got the ball, they scored, kicking five straight – four from the goalsquare – from nine entries in the first term

The scoreboard changed in the second quarter, but the quality didn't.

The Roos kicked four unanswered goals, two to Brown who finally shook free of Andrews.


Brisbane Lions: Ryan Lester copped a head knock in the final term and was helped off by trainers and did not return

North Melbourne: McKay fell to ground heavily in the third quarter when he clashed heads with teammate Sam Durdin as the pair attempted to spoil a marking contest. McKay was stretchered off and did not return. "He’s in a bit of a bad way," coach Brad Scott said post-match. "We think he’ll be OK but he’ll stay in hospital for observation." Durdin had his head bandaged and came back out in the final term. 

End of the line for both teams. That's eight straight years without finals action for the Lions and their first spoon since 1998, while the Kangaroos miss out for the first time since 2013 but avoid finishing last.