By Beth newman
It was a tough opening stanza for the Brisbane Lions’ pre-season at Etihad Stadium last night, but there were some glimpses of potential for Queensland observers.
The most promising sign for Queensland fans was the performance of Lions rookie and former Morningside player, Jordon Bourke, who stood his ground in the backline.
Bourke picked up 16 possessions, including nine contested playing on red hot Jack Gunston, who finished with five goals.
The defender has been cutting his teeth in the NEAFL, showing steady improvement in 2013, and that improvement showed in his performance on Thursday night.
Noosa product, Jono Freeman, kicked his first goal as an AFL player, with a strong leading mark in the final quarter.
Andrew Raines, one of only two Lions players with more than 100 AFL games under his belt in the match, continued his solid 2013 form and provided some much-needed experience for Brisbane.
With Jed Adcock, Tom Rockliff, Daniel Rich and Daniel Merrett all out, Broadbeach’s Dayne Zorko took the reins in the opening NAB Challenge clash, and led with class, picking up 18 disposals on a tough night, before being subbed out late in the game.
Sam Michael backed up Trent West in the ruck, but was up against it competing with new Hawks recruit, Ben McEvoy.
The match proved a strong learning curve for the Lion cubs, with nine debutants included in the side, against a Hawks team with 13 2013 premiership players.
Next weekend’s NAB Challenge match against the SUNS is likely to be more telling for Brisbane, with Jonathan Brown (foot) the only regular starter unavailable.
Folllow Beth on Twitter: @bethknewman