THE ONLY thing hotter than the weather at Hickey Park on Sunday afternoon was Brisbane's play, as the Lions crushed Gold Coast by 63 points in a QClash romp.
With temperatures hitting the high 30s by the start of the match, Brisbane was in no mood for wasting time, putting the game away by half-time with a 29-0 lead.
LIONS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats
Unlike last year's drawn contest when it blew a 15-point lead, Craig Starcevich's team raged on in the second half to make it two from two to start the 2021 season.
Gold Coast's score was the lowest in NAB AFL Women's history, dipping below Richmond's three behinds against St Kilda last year.
The Lions were terrific all over the field, with Jesse Wardlaw (four goals) winning the QClash Medal as the best player on the park. Her forward partner Dakota Davidson also booted four goals.
Sophie Conway (13 disposals, five tackles and 364m gained) was the cleanest player on the field, while young defender Nat Grider (18) and veteran Lauren Arnell (15 disposals and six marks) were also a class above their flat opponents.
Although the Suns' midfield competed hard around the contest (they won the clearances and contested possessions), Brisbane was too slick on the outside.
The Lions transitioned the ball almost at will from half-back or the middle of the ground to an open forward line to generate a landslide 22 marks inside 50 to just one.
Wardlaw and Greta Bodey kicked first-quarter goals, while Davidson added two in the second term, including one after the half-time siren after an exciting build-up from Courtney Hodder.
Brisbane's defensive unit, led by Kate Lutkins and Bree Koenen, set up an impenetrable wall that repelled any Suns attack.
Gold Coast's loss was further soured by what appeared to be a serious knee injury to second-gamer Annise Bradfield, who was helped off the field in the first quarter.
Brisbane had influential players on every line, but young forward Jesse Wardlaw continued to enhance her reputation around the competition with a best-on-ground four-goal performance. Last season, the 21-year-old kicked eight goals for the season – equal fourth in the League – and she looks well on the way to more in 2021. Wardlaw started the avalanche with a powerful overhead mark in the first quarter and calm set shot goal and did not look back.
Did you see that?
It was a moment Belle Dawes will either cringe at or laugh at. Early in the second quarter, the Lions' round one NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee, who again played a terrific game, gathered the ball at half-forward and as she spun around under pressure, that's when the trouble began. Without hesitation Dawes sent a deliberate kick 40m – in the totally wrong direction! Thankfully for the Lions, Kate Lutkins mopped up the mess at half-back and sent it the right way.
Considering the scoreline, it was remarkable to note the Suns won both the clearances (22-19) and contested possessions (117-113) – they were competitive in tight. But Brisbane split the game open as soon as the ball was one kick clear of congestion. It won uncontested possessions by almost 60, with winger Sophie Conway holding her width and finding acres of space. Midfielder Dawes and half-forward Lauren Arnell also carved up the Suns, leading to 22 marks inside 50. Hard to lose with that much territory.
"We did actually remind them (Lions players) about last year so it was really pleasing that they just kept working away. We're a team that's trying to improve every week and that was a step-up from last week. We are looking forward to the challenge of playing some of the big clubs that have got their hands up for higher stakes come end of the year." - Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich
"You're disappointed from a footy club perspective and how you represented yourself. If you think that's not a true reflection of you, it's what you're going to do about it that matters. It's what we do next, that's where you can define yourself. There's seven more weeks to go, and we want to play at the end. I haven't lost faith, at all. That's a game." – Gold Coast coach David Lake
BRISBANE 2.4 4.5 6.5 10.5 (65)
GOLD COAST 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 (2)
Brisbane: Wardlaw 4, Davidson 4, Bodey 2
Gold Coast: Nil
Brisbane: Conway, Wardlaw, Grider, Arnell, Koenen, Davidson, Bodey
Gold Coast: Drennan, Pregelj, Dunn
Gold Coast: Bradfield (knee)
Crowd: 2101 at Hickey Park
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