THE Lions’ hunt for a second flag took a massive leap forward as they downed three-time premiers the Adelaide Crows in a thriller that went right to the wire.
Brisbane will now enjoy a home preliminary final in a fortnight, which looked like a tough ask when they were shot down by St Kilda a couple of weeks back and had the ladder leader Melbourne to face in their last home-and-away game.
But they came through that to finish in the top four and now have progressed after a tough test at the hand of the Crows. Having shot to a hot start, the Lions were mostly under the heel for the mid two quarters but roared back in an exciting final term to run out 39-37 winners.
Irish import Orla O’Dwyer led the way with two goals and nine tackles, ably supported by in-form Ally Anderson, who kicked one and disposed the ball 16 times. Courtney Hodder made it an uphill struggle for the Crows, who will be sick of the sight of the Lions after a similar defeat in round eight.
Even though Adelaide has been the competition’s top team over its history, that has never looked the case against Brisbane. This was despite Crows gun forward Eloise Jones excelling as she booted four and the home team winning plenty of possession through the game.
But Brisbane started the game on fire, outtackling the Crows two to one as they got into an early lead.
They were hauled back though as the home crowd got behind the Adelaide side.
The Lions showed fight and held on in the third quarter until they kicked the only goal of the fourth.
FIRST QUALIFYING FINAL
ADELAIDE CROWS (5.7) 37
BRISBANE LIONS (6.3) 39
Irish Eyes Smiling
Irishwoman Orla O’Dwyer produced an early contender for goal of the finals in the first quarter, when she collected the ball on the boundary about 30m out, wheeled onto her left and kicked for home.
The goal umpire barely moved, and the parochial Crows crowd fell silent. A play reminiscent of a piece of Eddie Betts brilliance,
O’Dwyer would be within her rights to claim the Norwood patch of turf as “Orla’s pocket”. The Crows’ own Irishwoman, Niamh Kelly, matching it with an equally exciting moment, kicking a leading goal on the stroke of half-time.