The sheer experience of the Lions’ NEAFL side proved too great for the barren Gold Coast SUNS in the 13.18 (96) to 2.5 (17) contest at the Gabba on Saturday evening.
The Lions, fielding 21 AFL-listed players to nine, dominated from the beginning with midfielder Corey Lyons’s 42-disposal outing one of many impressive performances for the home side.
Coach Mitch Hahn was not shy to praise the 21-year-old, admiring his work ethic over the course of the season.
“He’s been fantastic,” Hahn told neafl.com.au.
“His improvement and growth as a player this year - he got challenged in the pre-season around some of his transition stuff, he’s ticked that box. We’ve challenged his contested footy, he’s started to pick that up, he’s picking up clearances.
“He’s playing some really good - no, exceptional - NEAFL footy this year.”
Despite the Lions’ woefully inaccurate opening terms yielding four goals and 12 behinds, the SUNS managed only two goals from the evening coming in the second and third quarters.
Still undefeated 14 matches into this season, the Lions had nothing but goalkickers with 13 goals shared between 11 players.
Former Lions Academy members Connor McFadyen and Tom Fullarton opened proceedings in the first term with quality finishes, while Sam Skinner began a tirade of strong marking with a major.
Spectators were made to wait 26 minutes before seeing a goal, where young SUNS Sam Fletcher and Caleb Graham annoyed a 50-metre penalty out of centurion ruckman Archie Smith to set Fletcher up at the top of the square.
Jacob Allison was quick to respond with a 48-metre bullet of a set-shot to spark a mammoth Brisbane second-half.
Connor Ballenden, Ryan Bastinac and Thomas Berry combined for three goals in the first five minutes of the second half.
Evidently fresh off the bye and with 21 listed players to the SUNS’ nine, the Lions went on to win the second half nine goals to one.
Experienced trio Nick Robertson (33 disposals, six rebound 50s), Rhys Mathieson (27 disposals, seven clearances) and Ben Keays (26 disposals, 11 marks) were prominent match-long over their mostly raw opponents.
SUNS Academy member and U18 All-Australian Connor Budarick was wildly impressive, notching 20 touches and eight tackles, while George Horlin-Smith won his share of the footy with 24 disposals and eight clearances.
The Lions will travel south of the border next week to take on the Sydney Swans, while Gold Coast will receive a visit from the fifth-placed GIANTS.
Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast SUNS at the Gabba
BRISBANE 3.5 4.13 8.15 13.18 (96)
GOLD COAST 0.1 1.1 2.4 2.5 (17)
GOALS – Brisbane: C Ballenden 2 T Wooller 2 J Allison R Bastinac T Berry C Cox N Cumberland T Fullarton C McFadyen S Skinner L Taylor. Gold Coast: R Buckland S Fletcher.
BEST – Brisbane: C Lyons C Ballenden J Payne J Walker R Mathieson N Robertson. Gold Coast: G Horlin-Smith C Budarick T Nicholls B Scheer J Leslie.