AFL Wrap: Lions Historic Win at the G

Submitted by Peter Blucher. 

The Lions historic win at The G

It was the Lions’ first win at the MCG under coach Chris Fagan, and a massive turnaround after the four previous games against Melbourne had brought four disappointing losses.

In a situation typically symptomatic of Covid times, it was 58 points at the Gabba in Round 23, 64 points at the MCG in Round 15, 33 points at Adelaide Oval in the qualifying final last year and 22 points at the Sydney Showgrounds in Round 12 last year.

All this, coupled with the high stakes of last week, made it an extra special win. And not just for the Lions but for Queensland football.

With Tom Fullarton’s late inclusion for the unavailable Joe Daniher, seven Queenslanders were part of the moment – Fullarton, Coleman, captain Dayne Zorko, vice-captain Harris Andrews, Eric Hipwood, Charlie Cameron and Jack Payne.

This equalled the record for most Queenslanders in an AFL final originally set in 2001 by the Lions group of Michael Voss, Jason Akermanis, Marcus Ashcroft, Mal Michael, Matthew Kennedy, Robert Copeland and Clark Keating, and matched three times in 2003 via Michael, Akermanis, Ashcroft, Michael, Copeland, Keating and Jamie Charman.

Coleman, a 14-year-old playing with the Wynnum Vikings when the Lions had last won at the MCG in 2014, was one of 14 Brisbane players to enjoy their first win at the MCG.

Only Zorko, Daniel Rich, Darcy Gardiner and Dan McStay had won previously at the MCG in Brisbane colors, with Andrews, now with a 1-10 record at the MCG, and Hipwood, now 1-9, having endured the longest wait.

The Lions’ Queensland septet were all valuable players. Hipwood, now with seven goals in two finals this year, shared top votes with teammate Jarrod Berry in the coaches votes, and Andrews was back to his very best with a commanding performance to hold Ben Brown goalless.

Zorko, under massive pressure after what happened the last time the sides met, had possibly his best game of the year, and Fullarton’s second quarter was instrumental in the Lions’ kick-start.

Payne, too, was solid in defence, while Cameron, although he had only five possessions, kicked three goals and was pivotal to the forward pressure game of the Lions that was so important.

Interestingly, in the last five years since Cameron has been with the Lions he is the game’s equal leading finals goal-kicker. He and Geelong’s Tom Hawkins have 22 to lead Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt (21), GWS/Geelong star Jeremy Cameron (20), West Coast’s Josh Kennedy (17) and Richmond’s Tom Lynch (16).

And if you stretch the time period to eight years, taking in Cameron’s last three years at Adelaide, the dynamic small forward is the outright leading goal-kicker with 33 – ahead of Riewoldt (29), Hawkins and Kennedy (28), Jeremy Cameron (24) and West Coast’s Jack Darling (23).

Keidean Coleman’s Special History:

Pick the odd one out. cycling superstar Cadel Evans, swimming gold medallist Leisel Jones, Australian cricketer D’Arcy Short, Australian Olympic basketballer Stephanie Talbot and rising Brisbane Lions star Keidean Coleman.

If you were to compare the relative sporting achievements of this star-studded group you’d probably settle with Coleman. After all, he’s only 22 and three years and 40 games into his AFL career.

But in fact it’s a trick question. There is no odd one out. They were all born in Katherine in the Northern Territory.

But on Friday night, when the television sets in Katherine are tuned into the AFL qualifying final between the Brisbane Lions and Geelong at the MCG, there will be no thought of Evans’ Tour de France trophy. Or anything to do with the others.

It will be all about Coleman, a young man who left the Territory at age nine to move to Brisbane with his family hoping and dreaming of a career in the AFL.

Although the outback town of about 11,000 people located 318km south of Darwin is little more than a distant memory for Coleman, the town itself still regards him proudly as one of their own.

And in time, perhaps, he will command a place on the Katherine Sports Honour Roll which, in addition to Evans, Jones, Short and Talbot, also claims ex-Adelaide Crows champion Andrew McLeod, who was born in Darwin but spent most of his early years in Katherine.

‘Kiddy’ Coleman will face the biggest game of his career on tonight in a stadium that would hold the entire population of Katherine nine times over, but after two visits in the past six the famous MCG will hold no fears for him.  

If anything it could even challenge the Gabba as his favorite venue after he posted his first 30-possession game in the Round 20 clash with Richmond, and backed up with a stellar performance in the Lions’ breakthrough semi-final win over Melbourne last Friday night.

Coleman, who has become such an attacking weapon with his excellent ball use off half back, was one of the Lions’ few shining lights early in the game, when Melbourne looked set for a big win.

And he finished an invaluable four-quarter contributor to the Lions’ first win at the MCG since 2014.

Queensland’s Tom Hickey to star for the Sydney Swans

While the Queensland AFL focus this week will be primarily on the Lions, attention on Saturday afternoon will switch to Tom Hickey and the Sydney Swans.

Hickey, pivotal to the Swans’ qualifying win over Melbourne, will play his fifth final and his first preliminary final in front of a sell-out SCG against Collingwood from the early time of 4.45pm.

Peter Blucher is a consultant with Vivid Sport. 

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