Dogs win could come at injury cost
SATURDAY night’s Semi Final between the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs exceeded every possible expectation, with Luke Beveridge’s men the eventual victors by a solitary point at the Gabba.
A rushed behind was the difference between heartbreak and elation for the two teams, but the win might have serious injury repercussions for the Dogs in next week’s preliminary final against Port Adelaide.
Marcus Bontempelli suffered a knee knock in the dying minutes and finished the game on the bench, while Cody Weightman was subbed out with a head knock, placing him in huge doubt for next week.
There were several lead changes throughout the game and around half of the last quarter was spent with the scores locked.
The play that led to the final point was started with a free kick against Oscar McInerney, who was one of the most influential Lions on the field and monstered Tim English and Lewis Young all night.
Ironically, the player the Dogs needed most on the park on Saturday night was a former Lion who wasn’t playing in Stefan Martin.
The first half saw scintillating ball movement from end to end, both teams regularly able to use the corridor and go inside fifty in the blink of an eye.
Charlie Cameron was able to sustain his brilliant form from last week, catching fire early in the contest to kick three first quarter goals and have the Lions up at the change.
Jack Payne was bulldozed by a flying Lincoln McCarthy early in the second term, the big man subbed out with blood flowing from his head.
It kickstarted a Dogs’ fightback, Luke Beveridge’s men going into half-time as leaders.
However, the news out of the break wasn’t what Dogs fans wanted to hear as Weightman subbed out with a head knock.
Jarrod Berry took no further part in the game after a similar incident, but Weightman as part of the winning team will be scrutinised for concussion.
Brisbane took their chances during the third term, Ryan Lester kicking his first goal in four years to put his team out to a game high 18-point lead.
But the Dogs hit back with the next four majors, former Lion Josh Schache putting his new club into the lead five minutes into the last quarter.
Lions tall Tom Fullarton broke the run of goals for the Dogs, and another point a minute later had the score at 71 apiece with eight minutes to play.
They traded points to keep it even, and a Dayne Zorko snap to put the Lions up went out on the full as the Gabba went bananas.
The game needed a hero, and Bailey Smith kicked the goal of his life, 35 metres out in the pocket on his opposite boot as the Dogs went up by a goal, but his namesake Zac Bailey kicked right back for the Lions to even it up.
The ball would bounce in the middle with less than a minute to play, Tim English surging it forward from a free kick.
A mad scramble in the Dogs forward fifty ended up with Lewis Vandameer out the back, scrapping the point that would put the Dogs into a preliminary final against Port Adelaide.
– BY SEB MOTTRAM/ SEN