Lions show “ticker” to book prelim spot

BRISBANE coach Craig Starcevich said he “couldn’t be more proud” of his group after the Lions essentially found a way to win through to an AFL Women’s preliminary after defeating minor premiers Adelaide on the road, with everything on the Crows’ terms in the first half of the third term.

After trailing by as much as 11 points at the 10th minute of the third term, Brisbane managed to switch momentum and kick two late goals to level the scores at the final break before an Ally Anderson goal early in the fourth term essentially secure the win.

Starcevich said the Lions players showed a “fair bit of ticker” to keep coming back with the momentum stacked against them.

“That’s been a strong trait of our group for many a year now so just pleased that they found a way to win the game twice really,” he said. “Couldn’t be more proud.”

In the aftermath of the win, Starcevich said there were a range of emotions amongst the playing group, with relief being the overwhelming one post-ga,e.

“They’re proud of each other for hanging in there and keeping on fighting,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young ones out there, a lot of inexperienced ones out there and they’re learning the Brisbane Lions way I guess. For Charlie Mullins to experience that and probably Boltz (Poppy Boltz) and Jen Dunne and a few of the new ones in our group. That’s gold to play in a game like that, experience what it’s like.”

The Lions coach had plenty of conundrums to go through during the match, with the Crows dominating possession, winning 64 more disposals, highlighted by midfield duo Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff who finished with 25 disposals apiece. Seven Crows had more than 15 touches, while only Anderson (17) fitted that description for the Lions.

Starcevich admitted he thought about what he could do to quell them, but it was hardly a new aspect of the Crows game, and he had to way up the pros and cons.

“They’re always a bit like that,” Starcevich said. “It’s a case of probably how much are they hurting you with their accumulation with the footy. Probably Hatchy (Hatchard) was the one who was starting to look really, really dangerous for a little while.

“What do you do? Do you try and clamp them down or do you try and stick to what you want to do? That’s always the tough question of a game footy, how do you want to play it? Do you want to be bold and win the game yourself? Or do you want to shutdown the opposition?”

When the Lions were down by 11 points in the third term, Starcevich said his side just kept “hanging in there” and though at the time of speaking had not looked at the numbers, was pleased his group could weather the Crows’ pressure.

“They (Crows) really ramped it up early part, I think they were running at 280 or 290 which is off the charts for pressure,” Starcevich said. “Clearly there was a focus by them if they could break us pushing up into the breeze in the third quarter and that they could maybe come home with a wet sail in the last.

“I’m guessing that’s the way Doc (Crows coach Matthew Clarke) would have sold it to them. Just hanging in there, hanging in until you can get a little shift in momentum and we got a couple of goals in the backend of the quarter which helped enormously.”

Brisbane now awaits one of the four teams who play today – Melbourne, North Melbourne, Geelong and Essendon – in a home preliminary final. Starcevich said pre-game he was fully prepared to go the distance through the finals series but admitted after seeing the brutality of the game, he was thankful for the additional week’s rest.

“For the type of year that we had where we’d blew a couple of games through a couple of games throughout the year, we thought it wouldn’t be bad to play three or four games in the finals if you had to do it that way,” he said.

“In hindsight now, given a couple of people got beaten up today, Bree (Breanna Koenen) and Daks (Dakota Davidson), copped minor injuries, but enough to leave you sore. We’ve played Adelaide and Melbourne in the last four weeks and played tough games, so maybe in hindsight it’s not a bad thing just to rest up and restore the energy levels. And essentially have that preliminary final at home which is important.”

Both Koenen and Davidson will be right for the preliminary final after suffering a rolled ankle and a “stinger on her shoulder” respectively.

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