Justin Leppitsch should have learned his lesson after Brisbane defeated the Western Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.
The Lions won by eight points against the Dogs at the Gabba and they did it in style. After an insipid display in the first quarter, Brisbane played quickly, directly and instinctively.
Errors aplenty were made by Brisbane in the first quarter and the Western Bulldogs scored seven of their first eight goals from turnovers.
That display in the first quarter summed up the seasons of both teams. Leppitsch’s side was slow and indecisive and the disposals were going sideways and backwards. On the other hand, Luke Beveridge’s side were attacking at pace and disposing the ball with great accuracy.
From the second quarter onwards, Brisbane players were hitting their targets and they didn’t look lost and confused. They played with purpose, direction and flair. It also helped that Leppitsch actually had his players in roles that they could perform.
Justin Clarke played as a back pocket instead of a tall defender and the youngster was vital in the final quarter, making some good spoils and taking a mark near the goal-line in the dying minutes of the game.
Daniel Rich was excellent in midfield with three assists and 13 score involvements. He is a superb passer of the ball and it makes you wonder why he plays in the backline in some games. Rich’s vision is as good as any elite midfielder in the AFL.
Pearce Hanley got 35 disposals and scored two goals, including one scored with the outside of his boot in the third quarter. The Irishman is a ball magnet but he provides dash and spark when Brisbane goes forward. He too is another player that needs to be near the forward 50.
The change in game style worked to the advantage Lewis Taylor, who scored three goals and got 28 disposals. He has suffered second-year blues and has had a tendency to run in circles but on Saturday he played like the player who won last year’s NAB Rising Star award, demonstrating his pace and goal-sneak abilities.
Stefan Martin starred in the ruck with 32 disposals and 50 hit-outs and the Lions must do whatever they can to keep him. He can ruck alone and he is a fantastic player around the ground.
Brisbane played with two key forwards in Daniel McStay and Jonathan Freeman and although they only kicked three goals between them, they provided reference points in the Brisbane attack. Their presence allowed the likes of Josh Green and Jed Adcock to run free and score goals.
Both Green and Adcock scored four goals each and the former showed that he can be one of the league’s best small forwards. Adcock was playing in his final game for Brisbane but he has shown in recent matches that he can be a useful medium-sized forward.
The result may have been too little, too late and Brisbane could miss out on recruiting promising youngster Josh Schache in the draft this year but the Lions avoided the wooden spoon and played some footy that was delightful to watch.
Hopefully Leppitsch noticed that players should play in roles that suit them and the team should play with attacking intent. With this in mind, the 2016 AFL season shouldn’t be bleak for the Brisbane Lions.