Brisbane took another giant step towards a premiership on Saturday night, proving it could win finals without major contributions from its star players.

Although coach Chris Fagan modestly said he wasn't sure if the Lions' progression would be great enough to win a flag this season, the 48-point triumph over Port Adelaide had all the hallmarks of a serious flag contender.

Co-captains Lachie Neale and Harris Andrews were solid, without being at their prolific best, while Charlie Cameron was a defensive terrier but kicked just two of Brisbane's 19 goals.

In previous years this trio would have their fingerprints all over big Brisbane victories, but that simply wasn't the case this time.

And it made little difference, as Hugh McCluggage grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with 12 score involvements from his 26 disposals, Joe Daniher kicked five goals in a polished performance, Cam Rayner was dynamic with three goals, and Jaspa Fletcher had a finals debut to remember with three goals from 18 disposals.

"We're a much more even team now," Fagan said.

"With the All-Australian team and only getting one player in, that's like a badge of honour.

"I reckon we've got a lot of guys who make a strong contribution and we're pretty even so there's nothing wrong with that at all. 

"I'm happy to be an even team because you need a lot of strong contributors to win finals games."

Neale wore close attention from Port tagger Willem Drew, who restricted the 2020 Brownlow medallist to a solitary disposal in the opening term.

But Neale worked and worked, and eventually became a strong contributor over the remainder of the game with 19 touches that included five clearances.


"The footy world thinks that if you tag Lachie Neale you beat Brisbane," Fagan said.

"He gets tagged most weeks. Some weeks he plays really well and tonight I thought he fought his way through it.

"Everyone notices when Lachie is tagged successfully but they make no comment when he is tagged unsuccessfully, which happens often. 

"We don't need Lachie to dominate to win, we're a better team than that and have to be."

Although the clearance count was even on paper (42-39 to Port), Brisbane kicked a whopping 13 goals from the source, while restricting their opponents to scrappy exits.

Fagan said the experiences from the past four finals campaigns had hardened his team's resolve and had no fears heading into a preliminary final in two weeks as a favourite.


"I reckon the thing I love about this group, and I've loved it from the day I started here, is they embrace failure in a positive sort of way," he said.

"I've always felt we've gradually been getting better and I sensed this year we've taken another little step. 

"I don't know if it's a big enough step to say we'll go the whole way, but we're certainly better equipped to do that and take the opportunity that presents itself."