Lions back to best in Bombers AFL thumping

Murray WenzelAAP
Daniel Rich of the Lions in action during his side's impressive AFL win over Essendon.
Camera IconDaniel Rich of the Lions in action during his side's impressive AFL win over Essendon. Credit: AAP

Brisbane's big guns have rebooted their stuttering AFL season with a 57-point drubbing of Essendon in the wet.

Hugh McCluggage, Harris Andrews, Lachie Neale and Joe Daniher - playing against his former club for the first time - ensured the Bombers were never in the fight in the 15.12 (102) to 6.9 (45) victory.

Neale (38 disposals, eight clearances, two goals) has battled a back complaint this season but there was evidence it's improving as he hoped, the Brownlow Medallist cleaner in traffic and direct with his ball use in his best game of the season.

Essendon lost defender and last year's club best and fairest Jordan Ridley to concussion in the second term, while Jarrod Berry was reported for a slinging tackle then subbed out in the third quarter with an adductor (thigh) complaint.

Both teams entered with 1-3 records, the dominant victory easing any doubts for the Lions who are expected to challenge again after finishing second in the last two regular seasons.

The Bombers had kicked just one major at halftime and Daniher twisted the knife early in the third term when he marked and played on to create a 41-point lead with the first of his two goals.

Earlier, the returning Daniel McStay showed his importance with two goals, while third-gamer Jaxon Prior also managed two and McCluggage (32 disposals) had 19 touches and a goal in a scene-setting first half.

Lincoln McCarthy (10 tackles) was a constant menace while Andrews was slick in defence despite the slippery ball and Daniel Rich broke the game open with a staggering 940m gained on his booming left foot.

Eric Hipwood slowly saw more ball as he finished with three goals as the Lions stretched out in their first Gabba appearance since a season-opening loss to Sydney.

And Jarryd Lyons amassed 22 contested possessions among 36 disposals and nine clearances as the Lions hunted as a pack.

"I think we've been going a bit better than what probably everybody else is saying we are," Lions coach Chris Fagan said.

"We were pretty rock solid that we were on the right track and needed to tweak a little bit of our ball movement, and tonight it worked."

The surface was drenched by a pre-game storm but, despite a mounting penalty count that finished 32-16 in favour of the Bombers, the Lions relished the tough conditions.

It took a 50m penalty midway through the second term for the Cale Hooker to kick Essendon's first goal, the forward finishing with four of his side's six majors.

Essendon were powered by Zach Merrett (36 disposals), Kyle Langford (27 touches) and Andrew McGrath (30 touches, 12 tackles).

But while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti - in his 100th consecutive AFL game - did his best, there was little go-forward to show for it.

"They showed us little areas we need to improve on across the board," Bombers coach Ben Rutten said.

"They were getting the ball forward and competing ahead of the ball better than we were."

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