CHRIS Fagan has celebrated his 100th game as Brisbane coach as his side solidified their spot in the AFL’s top-four with a grinding 23-point win over North Melbourne.
Lincoln McCarthy provided a spark in attack as Jarryd Lyons, Hugh McCluggage, Zac Bailey and Lachie Neale did much of the grunt work around the packs in the Lions’ 9.14 (68) to 6.9 (45) victory on Saturday night.
McCarthy stepped up in big moments, kicking the second of his two goals at the start of the final term to give Brisbane valuable breathing space in a low-scoring affair.
They held North to just two goals in the second half as they dominated contested possession, clearances and forward entries after the main break.
Small forward Charlie Cameron had just five kicks but finished with 2.3 in a dangerous cameo for the Lions, whose win gave Fagan an even 50-50 record from his 100 games at the helm.
The 59-year-old reached the milestone in his first showdown with Kangaroos counterpart David Noble, his former right-hand man.
Hobart’s Blundstone Arena was a fitting setting for the battle between two Tasmanian coaches and while Fagan’s men started hot favourites, they were forced do it the hard way in cold and wet conditions.
North’s Nick Larkey was an aerial threat in attack before halftime and kicked two goals in a run of four straight to help give the Kangaroos the upper hand early in the second term.
But the tall forwards lost their point of difference after the main break as heavy rain fell and turned a scrappy contest into an out-and-out slugfest.
Eric Hipwood provided a rare highlight in time-on of the third quarter when he clung to a big contested mark over Shaun Atley and bombed a goal from 50 metres to give the Lions a lead they never relinquished.
Larkey finished with three majors and Cam Zurhaar two as Ben Cunnington and Jy Simpkin worked hard for a midfield unit that was overpowered in the end.
Kangaroos vice-captain Luke McDonald returned from a long lay-off with a pectoral injury and got through his first full game of the season, finishing with 17 disposals.
© AAP 2021