Lions’ desperation key to Bombers win

BRISBANE coach Craig Starcevich was thrilled his side could get back on the winner’s list with a big victory over Essendon in challenging conditions on Sunday. The top of the table Lions lost their first game of the season to Richmond in Round 5, but blew the Bombers away early to lead 42-0 until late in the third term, before the Bombers managed to kick three of the final six goals during the 8.14 (62) to 3.0 (18) triumph.

Starcevich said it was important the team responded from the loss to Richmond eight days earlier by returning home to take care of Essendon.

“It was good, they’ve had eight days to think about the misery of Grand Final day and not putting our best performance on, but today the desperation level was good from the get-go,” he said. “In fact, training all week’s been in the right headspace so it was good to see some reward for effort and get back to where we need to be playing.”

The Brisbane midfield dominated all day with captain Emily Bates leading from the front, while Ally Anderson, Bella Dawes and Cathy Svarc all stood up, and Tahlia Hickie was commanding in the ruck.

“All of our midfield were super actually,” Starcevich said. “Tahlia in the ruck was providing them with all the service but Emily had a bit of a role today and played that and also got plenty of the ball herself. Ally the same, Bella and Cath also, it was a really good even performance through that part of the ground. Batesy’s had 10 clearances and Ally seven, so you can’t ask for much more from your two midfielders.”

Anderson notched up an impressive milestone, hitting 1000 disposals to become just the second Brisbane Lions player to achieve the feat, but first Indigenous player to cross the mark.

“That’s a huge achievement for Ally,” Starcevich said. I think there’s only a handful of them in the comp that have hit 1000. I know her and Emily are the two from our club. That’s a huge achievement and the fact that she’s the first Indigenous player to do that highlights it even more. But the way she’s grown as a person and a player over six or seven years has been amazing.

“She’s way more confident, she’s part of our leadership group, she talks to the players with her cultural education stuff around the Indigenous space. And first and foremost she’s an excellent teammate. They all love and support her and she rarely lets them down. Great that she’s ticked off that milestone.”

Brisbane welcomed back important defender Kate Lutkins for the clash, returning less than nine months from doing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Starcevich said the experienced back was “excited like a first gamer” all week.

“She knows that she’s pushing the envelope in terms of the time frame of a normal ACL,” he said. “But the more the weeks go by and the more we survive games like today and the fact she was able to get out there and make an impact and get he ball in her hands occasionally, and fit into that group pretty seamlessly was really nice to see actually what she brought to the table. It was nice for her to get back out there and start building up some match fitness and be ready for the back end of the year.”

Despite the weather being challenging at the Lions’ second home at Moreton Bay Sporting Complex, Starcevich was pleased with the amount of fans who turned up to the event and braved the wind and rain.

“September in Queensland’s meant to be sunny skies and mid-20s and just nice,” Starcevich said. Getting people off the beach to come to the footy is normally the biggest hassle. But today a little bit rainy, a little bit gloomy coming in. The rain is something you can deal with when you play footy but I think the supporters it turns them off so you’ve got to be pretty hearty to come and support your team when the conditions aren’t great.

“But the fact they came out here and supported us, and by the end when it dried up it actually looked liked we had a fair crowd. Very, very happy that people were able to come out to Burpengary and support us.”

Next round the Lions take on North Melbourne in Melbourne, with the game scheduled for Arden Street Oval at 5:10pm on Saturday, October 8.

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