Collingwood withstood a dramatic fightback from Brisbane to register a hard-earned but richly deserved 12-point AFL win on Saturday night at the Gabba.
The Magpies led by as many as 53 points but were given an almighty scare when the Lions booted the last seven goals of the match to close in on what would have been a remarkable victory.
However, a visibly tired Collingwood outfit dug deep and found a way to hold on for the 12.14 (86) to 11.8 (74) result on Saturday night.
Compounding Brisbane’s hurt, skipper Tom Rockliff faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after copping a knee to his side midway through the third quarter.
The collision occurred in a marking contest with Collingwood’s Travis Varcoe, with Rockliff in clear agony as he was substituted out of the match and later taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs.
Rockliff was Brisbane’s best at that stage with 18 possessions and four clearances.
Star Lions recruit Dayne Beams also saw plenty of the football, amassing a game-high 32 disposals in his first match since his protracted move from Collingwood late last year – but he only kicked the ball seven times, and was minded closely by Taylor Adams for most of the night.
Quelling fears their midfield would struggle without the former All-Australian and 2010 premiership star, the Magpies easily outpaced, outmuscled and outmanoeuvred the disappointing hosts for most of the night in front of 31,240 fans – Brisbane’s best crowd in five years.
The humid conditions didn’t help but the Lions were too clumsy with the ball and often timid going forward when the game was up for grabs – in stark contrast to Collingwood’s rapid play.
All the pre-match focus was on Brisbane’s improved midfield and their hopes of a top-eight breakthrough following the key additions of Beams and Allen Christensen.
But it was Collingwood’s usual suspects Dane Swan (31 possessions) and Steele Sidebottom (19) who ran riot, while Taylor Adams (29) and Scott Pendlebury (25) were equally impressive.
Travis Cloke was the game’s dominant forward with two goals, manhandling defenders at will and providing his side with exactly the kind of focal point the Lions lacked.