The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

LIONS ONE STEP FROM FIRST PREMIERSHI­P

- MARCO MONTEVERDE

BRISBANE coach Craig Starcevich says the Lions face the toughest task in AFLW – beating the Adelaide Crows at the Adelaide Oval – in their bid to win a maiden premiershi­p.

The Lions qualified for their third AFLW grand final with a thrilling four-point win over Collingwoo­d at the Gabba on Saturday.

The 7.3 (45) to 6.5 (41) preliminar­y final victory earnt the Lions a shot at the Crows – two-time premiershi­p winners and this season’s minor premiers – in next Saturday’s decider at the Adelaide Oval.

“There’s probably no bigger one in AFLW,” Starcevich said of the challenge of defeating the Crows in Adelaide.

“The Adelaide Oval itself is a magnificen­t venue to play footy, and we happen to be there in a grand final playing the home team, so what a challenge and how exciting. “I’m looking forward to it.” Starcevich said reaching this season’s grand final felt different for the Lions compared to their efforts in making the 2017 and 2018 deciders, the first of which was against the Crows in the competitio­n’s inaugural season.

“The first two, it wasn’t a finals series. It was finish in the top two and then go to play (in the grand final), so it’s completely different from that point of view,” he said.

“It’s a longer home and away season, the second year we fell into the grand final on the back of one big win in the last round, the team’s completely different, we’ve only got eight left from those first two years ... but what an opportunit­y.”

Starcevich said the finals series had presented the Lions with the challenge of having a weekend off before Saturday’s preliminar­y final.

Collingwoo­d started the better at the Gabba, kicking the game’s first two goals on the back of their qualifying final win over North Melbourne a week earlier.

“Being switched on to really compete early was found wanting a little bit,” the Lions coach said.

“Once they got that level back up, they were fine in terms of competing.”

By halftime the physically superior Lions led the tackle count 41 to 23, the inside 50s 19 to 10 and hit-outs 18 to 9.

The home side led by 10 points at the main break.

Magpies coach Steve Symonds was proud of his team’s effort.

The Magpies were never out of the contest, with Ashleigh Brazill’s goal with 21 seconds left giving them hope until the final siren.

“We’ve got so much fight i in us,” Symonds said.

“There were a couple of t times today where we lost momentum, but we were still fighting all the way to the end to give us a chance.

“We’re all disappoint­ed but we’re immensely proud of the work we’ve done.”

The Lions’ win was inspired by three goals by Dakota Davidson.

The Crows will be chasing their third premiershi­p, qualifying for the grand final with an 18-point win over Melbourne in Saturday’s early preliminar­y final.

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 ??  ?? Orla O'Dwyer of the Lions (centre) celebrates a goal; and (below) Dakota Davidson dives for a mark. Pictures: Getty
Orla O'Dwyer of the Lions (centre) celebrates a goal; and (below) Dakota Davidson dives for a mark. Pictures: Getty

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