Brisbane midfield ace Emily Bates could not hide her heartbreak following the Lions' four-point Grand Final loss to Melbourne on Sunday.

Bates was one of her team's best in defeat, gathering 15 hard-earned possessions and laying seven tackles, but the former League best-and-fairest winner was left to lament what could have been.

The 27-year-old has now been part of Brisbane's three Grand Final defeats – all by a goal or less – and this one stung.

Speaking to, Bates was full of praise for Melbourne, crediting its pressure and defensive discipline, but wondered whether the build-up of a decider at brand new Brighton Homes Arena had left the hosts flat.


"There's times I looked around and I felt like maybe our energy wasn't as high as it normally is," Bates said.

"Even our run, normally we put the burners on and teams can't go with us, but it just felt like we didn't have that same speed and explode from the contest that we normally do.

"I don't know if it was credit to them and the way they defended us or maybe we were just that little bit lacking in energy.

"It could have been a bit of mental fatigue, who knows? Credit to Melbourne the way they defended, it made it really hard for us.

"It just felt like they had that momentum and we were holding on … that's what the game felt like.


"Even the third and fourth quarters it felt like we were no real chance of breaking the game open and scoring."

There were tears from a number of Lions post-match, with Brisbane surrendering an 11-point quarter-time lead and unable to kick a goal after the first change.

Bates, captain Bre Koenen, best on ground Shannon Campbell, 50-gamer Kate Lutkins and newly crowned League best and fairest Ally Anderson have all experienced the three narrow Grand Final defeats.

They were also all part of the 2021 premiership win over Adelaide, and Bates said that's why this hurt so much.

"You know what winning one feels like, it's just that bit of heartbreak," she said.


"It feels like you've just left one on the table that was there for us to win.

"We've won one before, we know what it feels like, the elation.

"A lot of us girls have been here from the start and we've now lost three and it's just heartbreak.

"You've got to be in them to win them, so as much as it hurts, it's better to be in a Grand Final than just sitting on the sideline and not making one."