Jordan Lewis has celebrated his 250th AFL game in style, leading Hawthorn to a commanding 48-point victory over Brisbane.
With sidelined star and best mate Jarrad Roughhead making the trip to watch from the stands, veteran midfielder Lewis was electric, picking up a game-high 42 touches and nine clearances as the Hawks claimed a hard-fought win on Saturday in their first match since 2008 at the Gabba.
The 21.9 (135) to 13.9 (87) result ensures Hawthorn return to the winner’s list after last week’s defeat to Sydney and moves them to fifth spot, just outside the top four on percentage, for the time being.
The usual suspects ran riot – Cyril Rioli finished with five goals, Josh Gibson (26 disposals, seven tackles) was busy and Jack Gunston and Luke Breust were threatening against a leaky Lions defence with two goals apiece.
But Brisbane, who had lost their previous three games by a combined 218 points, made the Hawks work supremely hard for it.
The way the scoreboard blew out dramatically late in the match – Hawthorn booted nine of the last 10 goals, and did so with ease – was a concern but the totality of the performance would have pleased coach Justin Leppitsch.
Just like they did at home against Sydney in round six, the Lions challenged a far more-fancied opponent almost all the way – and might have pushed them even further with just a little bit more polish and finesse.
Mitch Robinson was outstanding with 26 possessions – more than half of them contested – while Allen Christensen (31 disposals) provided spark and Lewis Taylor (23 touches, three goals) had arguably the best game of his AFL career.
Three consecutive goals in less than five minutes from Tom Bell early in a see-sawing second quarter put Brisbane in front and brought the crowd of 23,691 to their feet.
Hawthorn responded with four unanswered goals from Shaun Burgoyne, Gunston, Breust and Rioli to seize the momentum and head into halftime with a four-point advantage.
But the Hawks weren’t able to put the Lions away until the final term, finally shaking them off with back-to-back goals from Lewis and Rioli, just a minute apart.
There was a sour note – cult hero Matt Spangher, who was playing his first AFL match since round 17 last year, lasted only a few minutes before coming off with a hamstring injury and didn’t return.