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Lions NEAFL side progress to grand final

September 2, 2017 2:59 PM

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The Brisbane Lions will meet the Sydney Swans in their first NEAFL Grand Final since 2013 after inflicting a third straight Preliminary Final loss to Sydney University by 32 points on Saturday afternoon at the Gabba.

A ballistic start saw the Lions boot the first six goals of the match, but poor kicking for goal and a third quarter fightback from the Students threatened to derail what looked like a foregone conclusion, before Brisbane steadied late to walk away with a 16.19 (115) to 12.11 (83) win.

“I’m really proud of the group,” said coach Mitch Hahn.

“We’ve had some challenges throughout the week with our senior team finishing up, the best-and-fairest last night and the guys’ attitude the whole week, set up well by the whole coaching group who’ve done a fantastic job all year.

“Have to put it down to our guys and the way we attacked the contest, our pressure early forced them into some errors… Oscar (McInerney) was able to take some marks and we were able to trouble them with our talls down forward.”

McInerney, who won the Lions’ Neville Fallon Award for best NEAFL player on Friday night, was outstanding, gathering 22 disposals and kicking two goals.

“It’s been great, his development and improvement from since he first walked in, I think it’s a credit to himself. ‘O’ has been able to buy into that environment and work really hard on his craft,” said Hahn.

Welcome inclusion Claye Beams (36 disposals, seven marks) made his mark in the midfield, and was supported well by Josh Clayton (26 disposals, seven marks, two goals), Ben Keays (26 disposals, six tackles) and Rohan Bewick (23 disposals, 11 marks).

They controlled the footy and made it nigh impossible for the Students to play their style of footy in the first half, but Zac O’Brien battled valiantly with 35 disposals, six tackles and a goal.

Matt Eagles (12 disposals, seven marks) was handed the captaincy for the day and he led by example in the backline, providing run off half-back and winning his one-on-one contests more often than not.

Brisbane had the ball on a string in the first term, at quarter-time leading the marks an astounding 53-11.

Michael Close should consider himself unlucky that NEAFL Mark of the Year has already been decided, taking an absolute screamer over two opponents and coolly slotting the resulting shot at goal to help set the tone for the Lions early.

From the start of the second term to the midpoint of the third the Students managed to work their way back into the contest, kicking 9.0 to 5.12 in that period to chip the Lions’ lead back to four goals.

Brisbane went into three quarter time 36 points ahead, costly misses late in the term to Damien Bonney and Alistair Gillespie killing vital momentum the Students would have dearly loved heading into the last.

Sydney University coach Tom Morrison implored his players to play their brand of footy in the last quarter, backing the Students trademark speed to overrun the Lions.

The Students heeded the words of their coach but were unable to impact the scoreboard, kicking six straight behinds when they desperately needed to continue the accuracy they had shown for the first three quarters.

Brisbane’s forwards shared the spoils, with five players kicking two goals or more each.

The Lions will now face a red hot Swans in the big dance, who dismantled the Gold Coast Suns in their Preliminary Final by 68 points.

It’s a task Mitch Hahn says the group is ready and raring to face.

“It’s another big challenge for our group and another learning experience for us that are on a journey as a football club,” he said.

“We’ll have some young guys playing, some more experienced guys playing and again for us it’s about our journey and our story and going forward as a club, how we start to live the values that we want to live.

“We’ve got to take that belief and control what we can control.”

The 2017 NEAFL Grand Final will be at the SCG next Saturday, 7.45pm, against the Sydney Swans. 

PRELIMINARY FINAL 2

Brisbane Lions v Sydney University at the Gabba

BRISBANE 6.2 11.10 14.16 16.19 (115)
SYDNEY UNI 0.1 5.1 10.4 12.11 (83)

GOALS – Brisbane: J Freeman 3 M Hammelmann 2 J Clayton 2 R Bewick 2 O McInerney 2 R Dadds M Close C Lyons L O’Sullivan B Sloan. Sydney University: M Manteit 2 J Hiscox 2 M Wilson D Bonney T Derickx J Derickx A Gillespie J Williams Z O’Brien M Thompson.

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