By Michael Whiting, afl.com.au
The Brisbane Lions have kicked away in the final quarter to win their fifth straight QClash with a 33-point win over the Gold Coast at the Gabba.
After Gold Coast moved to within six points late in the third term, the Lions kicked six of the last eight goals to run out comfortable 17.14 (116) to 12.11 (83) winners.
This win was a lot less dramatic, but just as effective and moved them level with the Suns on the ladder with a 5-9 win-loss record.
They did so despite playing the last quarter without Brent Moloney (calf) and Mitch Golby, who was coughing up blood following a big collision with Steven May.
Gold Coast finished with Sam Day who sustained a groin injury.
Gold Coast product Dayne Zorko was instrumental, kicking three goals, including a crucial steadier in the third quarter and a great right foot snap to break the Suns’ spirit in the last.
He was well held by Joel Wilkinson for much of the night, but was clinical with his few chances.
The Lions tall forwards also had a good day, with the trio of Jonathan Brown (three goals), Brent Staker (three) – moved forward permanently in the second half – and Daniel Merrett (two), all significant contributors.
Lions coach Michael Voss was proud of the win.
“We were down on numbers and it’s important to be tough in those moments,” Voss said.
“We got the momentum towards the end and a couple of big finishes. You’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to be able to run when you need to run and I thought they did that today and finished out quite strong.”
It is the Suns’ fifth loss in six matches and was again riddled with errors going forward.
They matched the Lions in disposals, clearances and contested possessions, but were often out-worked.
With Brownlow medallists Gary Ablett (calf) and Simon Black (groin) absent, the match was always going to lack a little polish, but both teams cracked in.
Lions ruckman Matthew Leuenberger was named best afield and winner of the Marcus Ashcroft Medal with his 20 disposals, 29 hit-outs and six tackles.
There was hints of niggle but nothing boiled over.
Zorko gave Wilkinson a big bump and even bigger verbal spray after his first goal, while Campbell Brown and Ash McGrath got into a third quarter wrestle.
Brown, captain in his 200th game, roughed up McGrath and the Lion retaliated with a shove in the face that cost his team a free kick and goal.
Greg Broughton collected Tom Rockliff with a big shepherd that left the Lion dazed, while David Swallow took plenty of time to rise from a Jonathan Brown hit.
Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna said his team also fought hard, but lacked polish.
“I don’t think we used the ball as well as we could have up until three quarter time, and maybe we should have had our noses in front but we didn’t,” McKenna said.
“It’s not all lost. Certainly some good signs there with some fo the boys coming in and getting opportunities.”
Jared Brennan, recalled with Ablett’s match-eve withdrawal, was again prominent against his former club, racking up 21 disposals and kicking three goals.