By Beth Newman
Saturday’s QClash6 may not have been as close as previous instalments, but Brisbane Lions coach, Michael Voss, reckons it’s the start of something strong.
With 27,170 turning out to watch the Lions claim their fifth straight Queensland derby, the match was the best-attended home game this season, more than the annual Collingwood blockbuster.
Billed as the most evenly-matched QClash so far, with the teams sitting 13th and 14th on the ladder as well as a 52-point comeback against Geelong in the Lions’ last home game, Voss said the crowd was a sign of things to come.
“As these sides start to emerge and get better, they’re going to have greater clashes,” he said.
“There’s going to be a lot more spoken about on the field so the numbers will start to grow.”
Brisbane finished stronger than their M1 cousins to claim the win, in what was a hard-fought match for both sides.
Voss acknowledged the gutsy efforts by his charges after the match.
“We were down on numbers and it’s important to be tough in those moments,” he 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 quite strong.”
SUNS coach, Guy McKenna, said his side lacked the class required to finish the game, but was proud of their fight.
“The guys aren’t putting a cue on the rack,” he said.
“That’s what I was most proud of tonight… the boys were out on their feet, but they kept fighting. They just didn’t have the class to finish them off.”
It was the Lions’ talls who were the difference on the day and it was the tallest of them all, in ruckman Matthew Leuenberger, who took the Marcus Ashcroft Medal.
Leuenberger shouldered the ruck role for pretty much the whole match, in a standout performance and said it was good to notch up the win.
“At three-quarter time, it was there for either side to win,” he said.
“It was good for the boys to fight through it and blow them away.”
Brisbane may have come out on top in QClash6, but we had a close look at all the Sunshine Staters fronting up in the local derby.
Check out our ratings on the Queenslanders in the match:
Daniel Merrett – 7
Merrett, up forward for much of the night, played a good second fiddle to Jonathan Brown on Saturday. Finishing with two goals for the night, Merrett was solid in his return from a groin injury, and proved once again his value to the Brisbane side, at either end. The big man didn’t look hampered by the groin injury that ruled him out against Hawthorn, after being labelled an unlikely starter earlier in the week.
Dayne Zorko – 8
The former Broadbeach star had a mixed night at the Gabba on Saturday.
He only touched the ball a handle of times in the first three quarters, but almost every touch resulted in a goal.
The magician had kicked 3.1, having had only 11 disposals for the game.
It was through his defensive efforts, that the 24 year-old made most of his impact, leading his side with eight for the match.
Andrew Raines – 6
With no Gary Ablett to line up against, Raines provided the Lions with an interesting quandary, eventually put in a shutdown role against Prestia.
Raines was beaten early by Prestia, who picked up nine possessions in the first quarter.
The Southport product had a better second half, and managed a goal in the last quarter.
Gold Coast SUNS
Jarrod Harbrow – 8
Harbrow was the best of the SUNS’ Queenslanders for much of the night, starting with a shot on goal off the first clearance.
While it hit the post, Harbrow continued to feature in the action, key when the SUNS’ transition through the midfield.
He was involved defensively too, leading the SUNS’ tackle count for the match.
A snap on goal in the third set off a SUNS mini resurgence, in a strong game from the former Western Bulldog.
Rory Thompson – 8
Rory Thompson did a solid job on Lions co-captain Jonathan Brown, particularly early in the match.
The youngster is coming into his own in the SUNS’ backline and Brown’s three goals don’t reflect the tight hold Thompson had on the veteran.
Joel Wilkinson – 7
Wilkinson was given a tough task at the Gabba on Saturday, charged with quietening the mercurial Dayne Zorko.
But the 21 year-old was more than respectable against Zorko, who was relatively quiet for much of the match.
Unfortunately for the SUNS defender, when Zorko did get it, he made an impact immediately, but overall, coach Guy McKenna would have been happy with his return.
Andrew Boston – 2
Broadbeach product, Andrew Boston, didn’t have much of a say in QClash6, playing as the SUNS sub.
Boston was injected into the game in the shadows of three-quarter time, and picked up two touches for the game.