Brisbane has demolished a disappointing Melbourne side by 41 points at the MCG today.
Many saw the round one clash as a perfect opportunity for the Demons to send off club legend Jim Stynes with a strong disciplined showing against an opponent coming off a underwhelming 2011.
Melbourne supporters certainly saw this as the case, with a strong crowd turning out only to see a performance of the sort which saw Dean Bailey replaced as coach of the club.
New coach Mark Neeld has promised a harder edge to the Demons’ attack and defence all summer, but based on their performance today, a lot of work is still required. Simply put, the experienced players, those you expect leadership from in trying time, went missing at the wrong times far too often.
Questions have to be asked of several players, in particular Aaron Davey and Brad Green. Both struggled up to three-quarter time before collecting several possessions and goals in what was essentially ‘garbage time’ in the last.
Melbourne appeared confused and directionless moving the ball out the back half, which resulted in the Demons’ kicking the ball as long as possible and hoping for a mark somewhere down the line.
The Brisbane defence, despite losing Daniel Merrett who was playing predominately up-forward, handled the bombs with ease, with Matt Maguire, Jed Adcock and others finding plenty of help to spoil and clear the incoming ball.
In contrast, the Lions’ ball use was clean and crisp, which lead to many one-on-one opportunities for their forwards. The key beneficiary of this slick ball movement early in the piece was midfielder Tom Rockliff, who finished with three goals.
Lead by the masterful Simon Black (31 touches), Brisbane dominated around the stoppages, using the ball precisely with purpose, something Melbourne severely lacked whenever they managed to win the rare clearance.
James Polkinghorne and Todd Banfield aided Rockliff and Merrett superbly, each finishing with three goals as Melbourne wilted under pressure in the second-half after only trailing by four points at the major break.
It speaks volumes about a performance when the players standing up to fight against the onslaught are notably inexperienced. James Magner, on debut, showed the way with 23 disposals, but limped off late in the last quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Even then, he was the only shining light in what was ultimately a dismal display.
Neeld will likely want to send a message to his side at the selection table this week, and it is important the message is received quickly, as the Demons face West Coast next week at Patersons Stadium.
Brisbane will host Carlton in what suddenly looks to be an even contest.
MELBOURNE 3.3 7.4 8.8 17.17 (78)
BRISBANE LIONS 1.4 7.8 13.13 11.12 (119)
3 Black, 2 Rich, 1 Rockliff
Melbourne: Magner (2), Howe (2), Clark (2), Martin, Watts, Trengove, Green, Davey
Brisbane Lions: Rockliff (3), Banfield (3), Polkinghorne (3), Hanley (2), Merrett (2), Leuenberger, Adcock, McGrath, Sheldon
Melbourne: Magner, Trengove, Watts, Frawley
Brisbane Lions: Black, Rich, Hanley, Rockliff, Adcock, McGrath
Melbourne: Sam Blease replaced by Matthew Bate at three-quarter time
Brisbane Lions: Rohan Bewick replaced by Sam Sheldon at three-quarter time
Melbourne: Magner (ankle)
Brisbane Lions: None
Umpires: Dalgleish, Leppard, Grun
Official crowd: 33,473 at MCG