Saving his best until last, departing ex-skipper Jed Adcock has inspired the Brisbane Lions’ upset eight-point AFL win over finals-bound Western Bulldogs in a Gabba thriller on Saturday that may have kept the wooden spoon at bay.
The Lions drew the curtain on a horror year when they notched just their fourth win of 2015 – 19.16 (130) to 19.8 (122) – moving ahead of lowly Carlton who are playing defending champions Hawthorn on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were guaranteed sixth spot and a home final against Adelaide after the Crows were thrashed by 39 points by Geelong on Saturday.
Told he could not be guaranteed a run in 2016, ex-Lions captain Adcock, 29, turned back the clock in his farewell Brisbane clash with four goals and 21 touches.
It was not an ideal hit-out for the Western Bulldogs ahead of their first finals campaign since 2010, with Stewart Crameri (cork) also to be monitored ahead of their finals opener.
The Lions refused to lie down in front of 15,434 Gabba fans despite trailing 31 points at the first break after the Bulldogs launched eight straight goals.
After Brisbane enjoyed a 15-point lead into the final quarter, Josh Green iced the result against a surging Bulldogs with his fourth major.
The win maintained Brisbane’s hold over the Dogs, notching their fifth win in seven games against them, while it was also the highest scoring Gabba match in 10 years.
They also avoided their lowest wins total for a season – three – posted in 1991.
They did it without injury prone retiree Brent Staker who twinged his hamstring in Saturday’s warm-up, denying him a final game.
He finishes with 160 games and 119 goals for both the Lions and West Coast.
The Bulldogs kicked eight straight goals – seven from turnovers – as they jumped to an 8.0 (48) to 2.5 (17) first-quarter lead despite the Lions having 30 more possessions.
The Lions hit back with six straight majors, at one stage boasting 43 second term disposals to Bulldogs’ eight, to enjoy an 11-point lead before the visitors wrestled away an 11.2 (68) to 8.12 (60) halftime buffer.
The Bulldogs kicked a goal before the game with their banner which read: “Sorry bout this Brisbane, it’s a pretty harsh whack, but your logo looks a lot like the bloke from Nickelback”.
For Bulldogs, Marcus Bontempelli had 28 touches and two goals.