McSTAY ON THE SPEED FOR LIONS
Pace on its own doesn’t make you a good footballer just as a lack of it doesn’t make you a liability if you have plenty of smarts to compensate.
But its certainly can give you an edge – as Daniel McStay displayed to great effect near the end of the first quarter as the Lions looked to get the late goal that would properly illustrate their first quarter supremacy.
Hugh McCluggage, the local Ballarat boy who was the driving force for the Queenslanders in that opening stanza, stooped to gain possession in the middle of the field and, spotting the forward line open, chipped a through ball into space.
Despite giving Zaine Cordey a head start McStay got to the ball first, knocked it back to Lincoln McCarthy who squared a pass for Jarrod Berry to finish in straightforward fashion.
It was the least McLuggage, who had been Brisbane’s key man in this early phase, and the Lions deserved.
After falling behind early they had regrouped impressively, the Dogs failing to break through their defensive lines while Brisbane gained the bulk of possession.
NAUGHTON GROUNDED – AT LEAST FOR A WHILE
Teenage Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton grabbed the headlines last weekend with his aerial antics in his team’s surprise win over Richmond, taking 14 marks, nine of them contested.
It was a haul that put him in rare air indeed, within one of breaking ”King” Wayne Carey’s record for contested marks in a match in the years while that stat has been collated.
But for much of the first half at Mars Stadium Naughton found himself grounded and out of sorts.
He dropped an easy couple of marks, both within 30 metres of goal, and what looked so simple last weekend seemed rather more complicated this time round.
But the youngster found his form at just the right moment in the dying seconds of the second quarter. The Dogs were still trailing when he led into space, taking a mark on an acute angle. As he ran in to shoot the siren sounded, but it proved no distraction as his shot sailed between the posts to give the Dogs a two point lead at the long break as a result.
DOGS GET ON A ROLL
Momentum is everything. Its a cliche for a very good reason, and the Bulldogs showed why once again during the third quarter when they stamped their authority on the match.
When Will Hayes, in just his fourth senior game, goaled from almost 50 metres with a set shot during the third term it put the Dogs 19 points ahead: at one point in the second period they had trailed by 16 points, so Hayes excellent strike made it a 35 point turnaround.
They went to the final change even further ahead after Josh Dunkley kept his composure and drove home a free kick after the siren to give Luke Beveridge’s side a 21 point lead.
Suddenly the Dogs seemed leaner, hungrier and quicker. Mitch Robinson’s excellent long range goal had given Brisbane a glimmer of hope but they couldn’t build on it.
YOU GOTTA TAKE YOUR CHANCES
There is one hard and fast rule in every sport: if you don’t take your chances, then your opponent will inevitably punish you.
Brisbane fans will wonder what might have been in this game if the Lions key forward Eric Hipwood had been able to kick straight.
The big forward kicked his second for the day with 10 minutes remaining in the final quarter, but it was too little too late. Before he had converted one major he had kicked five behinds: even one of those at a critical point of the game might have made a big difference.
Naughton rubbed it in in the dying minutes, taking a contested mark and kicking the sealer.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing