“Mature” Lions dominate last three quarters

BRISBANE Lions coach Craig Starcevich has praised has “mature” group for “not panicking” when down by 11 points at quarter time against the GWS GIANTS on Sunday. Despite being one of the AFL Women’s premiership favourites, Brisbane was jumped by the GIANTS to trail 2.0 to 0.1 at the first break, before steadying to boot 10.6 to 1.2 in the last three quarters and come away with the 47-point victory.

Starcevich said the group acknoweldged that the game had not started on their terms, but he was pleased with how the Lions were able to regroup and get back on top to finish strongly.

“(We were) a bit slow to start obviously but once we got going I think it was 10 goals to one from that point onwards from quarter time so can’t be too disappointed with that,” he said. “There was some good parts about stopping the way they wanted to play and then getting our on game going as well which was really pleasing.”

Despite facing an 11-point deficit at quarter time, the visitors did not need any particular rev up for the second term, with Starcevich effectively telling his playing group to “stay calm”.

“They got the two goals but the inside 50s weren’t massively apart,” Starcevich said. “We got a late shot so in terms of general play we sort of started to swing things back a little bit by the end of that quarter. Whenever our girls get a couple of goals behind, there is a tendency to maybe start not panicking but getting a little bit concerned by things. Our message was just to stay calm and work out what we had to do and go ahead and fix it.”

W Medalist Emily Bates was symbolic of the team’s performance, starting slowly in the first term as the GIANTS, lead by the likes of inside bull Alyce Parker, took control with goals to Jessica Doyle and Haneen Zreika in the early stages of the match.

“Across the board we were all a bit second to the ball,” Starcevich said. “Fortunately you only have to remind our group once about what the shortfalls are and they go ahead and fix it, which is nice. They’re mature enough to handle that and get going, and then by the end of the game, Batesy had a fairly big day and she’s hit the scoreboard as well, so that’s always a good response from a leader as you’d expect.”

Unsurprisingly, Brisbane has piled on more points than any other side this season. averaging 71.5 per game while conceding just 23.5. Having been strong in terms of getting opportunities last season, Starcevich said there had been a high focus on capitalising on them in Season 7.

“We led the comp last year for inside 50s, so our struggle is to convert them into scoring opportunities. That’s starting to turn a little bit at the moment, but we still feel like we’re leaving a few out there,” he said. “It’s one of those things where in our competition, you only play a couple of practice games before you hit the season so a lot of that connection and timing is still a work in progress, so in most of those seasons, this is our club’s seventh year in the comp. You sort of don’t hit your straps until about Round 4 or 5, so we’ve got some of that timing and synergy and connection that we’ve still got to keep working on.”

Starcevich also praised the work of forward Zimmorlei Farquharson who he described as a “bit of a unique athlete”. Despite only having the eight disposals, one mark, three tackles and 1.2, Farquharson had five score involvements and laid a couple of tackles inside 50.

“For her shape and size she’s very fast so she’s a danger offensively and she’s also a danger defensively as well and we’re starting to see more consistency from her to provide both, which in your front half is invaluable,” Starcevich said.

“We had a big spread of goalkickers and a couple of people who doubled up. There’s opportunities there for everyone but we still feel like we’ve left a few behind, but … if our talls aren’t involved or smalls are getting busy, and our midfielders are getting in there as well. There’s a nice sort of balance there.”

Along with Farquharson’s three scoring shots, Bates and Greta Bodey both slotted two majors, while Courtney Hodder, Jesse Wardlaw, Orla O’Dwyer and Ruby Svarc also kicked goals. The Lions were able to come away from the Round 2 in with four points in the bag and no injuries to speak of, but Starcevich said there was plenty more improvement to come from last year’s preliminary finalists.

“We’ve been okay, but there’s still a lot of areas that we need to keep working on and we have some big games coming up in the next month or so, so there’s still lots of things we need to keep improving on, but you can’t be disappointed with the two wins we’ve had,” he said.

Brisbane hosts Gold Coast Suns in a Saturday twilight Q-Clash at The Gabba from 4:40pm on Saturday, September 10, before a massive contest against Melbourne at Casey Fields in what could be a grand final preview.

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