The Hawks rallied early in the last, but Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner repelled everything, and a captain’s goal from Dayne Zorko sealed it.
Jumped early, the Lions quickly found themselves under siege. Nick Robertson was immediately exposed by Chad Wingard, who raced into goal for the Hawks’ first, then brought down Robertson in a tackle moments later for Luke Breust to reap the spoils.
Whereas the home side struggling to get their hands on the ball, and wasting it when they had it, the Hawks were well organised and lethal when they had it. Jarman Impey scored from a free kick against Luke Hodge, then Mitchell Lewis scored after trapping Andrews.
Ricky Henderson’s goal from deep in a pocket, deep in the first quarter had Hawthorn 29 up, the Lions just two solitary points on the board, and the game looking shot to bits. And then they stirred.
Slowly they began to win back some of the ball, and though they were still without a goal at quarter time, the tide was turning.
Cam Rayner struck the first blow, hit on the chest by Daniel Rich, continuing a fine season. Neale won the next clearance, and Lyons thumped the ball long to a charging Rhys Mathieson.
James Cousins got one back for the Hawks against the run of play, but Charlie Cameron quickly clawed that one back.
Then Taylor, playing his most significant game this year, jagged one from the front of a pack and the margin was back to seven points. A free kick to Stefan Martin made it one.
Tom Scully kept the Hawks a kick in front at half time, but it came against not so much the run of play as the rush of it.
So the third quarter proceeded: Jonathan Ceglar kept Hawthorn two goals clear, only to be pegged back by Cameron. Shaun Burgoyne made it two kicks again, and for a time, the Hawks surged.
The Lions defence dug in, Andrews intercepting everything that came his way, Gardiner and Rich on the counter-attack.
The longer the quarter went, the more the Lions managed to wrest the game back on their terms. Eric Hipwood buried a free kick from the pocket to make the margin a point, and Dan McStay and Ben Keays missed sitters, but when Mathieson sunk his second after the siren, the Lions had the lead, the crowd, and the momentum.
The question was, after two one-point results in a row – the first against Adelaide a victory, after a 26-point lead was whittled away, and last week’s last-gasp loss to Fremantle – whether they could maintain their composure.
It was a test that, this time, the Lions passed in fine style. With Carlton at Marvel Stadium next week, they should further cement their position in the eight.
James Sicily is notorious for playing close to the line. Late in the first quarter, he gave what footballers call a ‘‘tummy tap’’ to Lincoln McCarthy. Other people might call it a punch to the solar plexus, and it left McCarthy winded and on his haunches – 30 metres off the ball. Good luck explaining that to Michael Christian, James.
Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan often thanks the crowd for coming out to the Gabba, with over 25,000 made the trip on this chilly night. Obviously, a side that’s winning games and making a finals charge helps, but it’s also a tribute to the attractive style of football Fagan’s had them playing since he arrived.
Brisbane Lions 0.6 5.9 9.11 12.13 (85)
Hawthorn 5.1 7.3 9.4 10.6 (66)
GOALS – Brisbane Lions: Cameron 2 Hipwood 2 Mathieson 2 Rayner 2 Taylor Martin Robinson Zorko. Hawthorn Lewis 2 Wingard Breust Impey Henderson Cousins Scully Ceglar Burgoyne.
BEST – Brisbane Lions Lyons Andrews Taylor Neale Gardiner Rich. Hawthorn O’Meara Burgoyne Sicily Worpel Stratton Henderson.
Umpires: Deboy Stephens Gavine.
Crowd: 25,051 at The Gabba.
J Lyons (BL) 8
L Neale (BL) 8
H Andrews (BL) 8
L Taylor (BL) 7
S Burgoyne (H) 6