From a scoreless first half to a slow and sloppy second term, the Melbourne Demons somehow stole their first win of the 2012 NAB Cup season last night, defeating the Brisbane Lions 0.2.1 (13) to 0.1.4 (10) in soggy conditions at Metricon Stadium.
|(The Brisbane Lions battle for the ball in wet conditions|
at Metricon Stadium)
In the most low scoring affair of the AFL’s young preseason competition, the Lions led by seven come half time thanks to a Todd Banfield goal minutes before the siren. Melbourne managed to remain scoreless during the first half, but two late goals from the likes of Colin Sylvia and James Sellar sealed a last minute victory for coach Mark Neeld’s side.
Despite the lack of flare on the scoreboard, the Lions showed plenty of heart when it counted. Captain Jonathan Brown appeared confident in front of goal during his return from last year’s horrific injury, and former Lion Mitch Clark was held in check by third year player Matt Maguire throughout the course of the game.
What perhaps let the Lions down though, was a combination of both the slippery conditions and a lack of capitalizing on chances. By half time, the Lions had chalked up an impressive 98 disposals to the Demons 42, while Ash McGrath had 11 next to his name after working hard in the back field all night.
The added misfortune of James Polkinghorne’s miss just seconds before the final siren didn’t help the Lions confidence either. In front of a small crowd of 5,150, Polkinghorne missed a soda in front of the sticks which would have gifted Brisbane a victory – only to see it skid off the mucky surface for a behind.
That, a blunder by the video ref, and some of the Demons young eye-catchers gave the Lions back field some grief during the second half.
Out of Brisbane’s entire squad last night though, the Lions young guns also stole some headlines of their own. Young draft pick Elliott Yeo led the game in possessions through the second half, and his pinpoint kicks during the on and off drizzle have him earning comparisons to former Lion Justin Sherman early.
The Lions now prepare for the Adelaide Crows on March 3, but also have some minor concerns to address on and off the field. Although Brown played sufficient minutes in both games against the Demons and Gold Coast Suns this weekend, head coach Michael Voss has decided to “ice” his skipper in preparation for the regular season, while the rest of his team fly down south.
But even without Brown, the Lions competitive nature should have fans optimistic ahead of this season. If there was anything to take away from last night’s defensive clash, it’s that Brisbane are much hungrier for possession of the ball, and more determined to find the open man in space. Even if some of the same scoreboard struggles are occurring.
Date: 25 February, 2012
Venue: Metricon Stadium
Teams: Melbourne Demons, Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns