Tuesday 3 August 2010

Mt Gravatt should brace themselves for plenty of contact when they meet the young Brisbane Lions Reserves at Dittmer Park on Sunday.

The Lions have placed an added emphasis on their tackling in recent weeks, and the results began to show in the second half of last week’s win over the NT Thunder at Giffin Park.

The Lions still have a faint hope of sneaking into the top eight but face the form side of the QAFL competition in Mt Gravatt.

Lions coach Craig McRae knows his side must play with the same intensity as they did in the second half last weekend for the full four quarters on Sunday.

“We didn’t win a lot of one-on-one contests in the first half and their (the NT’s) strength is to get the ball out into open space where they run and create the overlap,” McRae said. “We played into their hands.”

Admitting he was wondering where any ‘lift’ was going to come from when the Lions trailed by five goals at halftime, McRae spoke to every one of his players individually at halftime about what he needed from them.

The transformation was remarkable.

The Lions booted six goals to one in the third term to level the scores at the last change, and added the first three of the final term to put the result beyond doubt.

Bryce Retzlaff, Claye Beams, Travis Johnstone and Aaron Cornelius all played key roles.

 “Bryce’s workrate was phenomenal for a forward throughout the game and he got us back in the contest through that work-rate,” McRae said.

Cornelius finished with 11 strong marks and five goals for the day, enjoying the better supply in the last hour.

Such was the Lions’ dominance of the second half that they won the overall contested possessions 100 to 68.

Beams finished with 18 hard-ball gets and 12 clearances in a stellar performance.

“That is a phenomenal number of hard-ball gets – he’s in very good form,” McRae said.

Johnstone finished with 38 disposals and used the ball to telling effect, while Jed Adcock’s return to action resulted in 27 quality touches.

“Jed showed strong leadership and looked like a player ready to play senior football,” McRae said.

While those numbers were all impressive, it was the team tackle count that McRae enjoyed most.

“It was our highest tackling effort for the year,” he said. “It makes it easier to win the game when you do that.”

Sam Sheldon finished with 11 tackles, Johnstone eight and Adcock seven.

The win ended a four-game losing streak, including the previous two matches by less than a goal, and left the Lions two games out of the top five with three qualifying rounds remaining.

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