Brisbane Lions slammed for ‘choking’ in Carlton Blues’ 46 point comeback win, news, reaction, analysis

Brisbane Lions coaches and on-field leaders have been called out for ‘disappearing’ and ‘choking’ in a nightmare third quarter during Carlton’s stirring 46-point comeback win in Opening Round.

The Lions looked on track for a 15th-straight win at the Gabba when they came out of the blocks in red-hot fashion, leading 44 to 12 after the first quarter.

But they conceded eight goals in a row in a disastrous third term before eventually losing by one point after Harry McKay’s late heroics.

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After the match, Brisbane coach Chris Fagan appeared at a loss to explain what went wrong.

“We don’t walk away from what happened tonight,” Fagan said.

“It wasn’t a terrible performance, it was just a really bad one quarter.

“We need to chat about it and address it.

“You need to sleep on it, need to watch the vision and get the absolute truth of what happened and understand that.”

‘Clearly we just had a bad third Quarter | 04:57

Speaking on AFL360, veteran AFL journo Mark Robinson questioned whether the Lions’ coaches ‘reacted quickly enough’ to the Blues’ onslaught – and claimed the ‘better (Lions) players disappeared’.

Robinson said: “First of all I thought they choked.

“Next of all I thought: ‘What happened in the coaches’ box during the third quarter?’

“Then I thought: ‘What did the leaders do on the ground during the third quarter?’

“We talk about leaders all the time. We talk about coaches’ boxes but we talk about leaders.

“I think in the review they’ll be all-in: ‘What did the coaches’ box do to try and (turn it around)? Was it just because we missed goals? We were (still) in it? No, it was a bit more than that.’

“Did the coaches’ box react quickly enough? What did they do?

“And then the players on the ground. Hugh McCluggage, he’s a really good player – zero touches in the third quarter. Dane Zorko, two touches. [Josh] Dunkley, two touches.

“So when you’re actually looking around saying ‘what happened?’, it’s generally (that) your better players disappeared.”

Carlton clinch one point comeback win! | 03:56

The Lions managed just six tackles in the entire third quarter, with the Blues scoring seven goals to one thanks to some wayward Brisbane goalkicking (6.1).

The Brisbane stars mentioned by Robinson all had excellent performances in the match – outside the third quarter, at least.

Dunkley finished with 21 disposals and nine tackles, while Hugh McCluggage had 18 possessions and four inside-50s. Zorko finished with two goals, a goal assist and 19 disposals.

It was Carlton’s second-biggest ever comeback and the AFL’s biggest comeback since 2015, when the Saints ran over the Bulldogs in round six.

Robinson said the Lion’s first defeat on their home turf in 15 matches means other teams will no longer be intimidated travelling to Brisbane.

“The fortress of Brisbane,” he said. “You know what everyone thinks now? ‘We can get you, no matter where you are’.


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Zorko told SEN his team were “absolutely dominated” either side of halftime.

“For whatever reason, we lacked a bit of intensity around the ball and credit to Carlton and their big men, they delivered in spades,” Zorko told SENQ’s Pat and Heals.

“They had a 25-minute period there just before halftime and 15 minutes after half time that they absolutely dominated us and we saw how quickly they could hit the scoreboard.

But, he added that their dominant 7.2 to 2.0 first quarter was their ‘best football’ under Fagan.

“There’s still plenty of positives to come out of the game for us. Our start was probably the best football I’ve seen us play in Chris Fagan’s tenure I believe,” he said.

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