Brisbane savaged over 'embarrassing' scenes amid 128-first for AFL grand finalists

The Lions and Magpies have both started the 2024 season with back-to-back losses.

For the first time in 128 years of AFL, the grand finalists from the previous season have both started 0-2. Brisbane slumped to an embarrassing loss to Fremantle on Sunday, after Collingwood were thumped by Sydney on Friday night.

The Lions coughed up a 46-point lead to lose to Carlton in the opening round, and went down to the Dockers by 23 points on Sunday. Brisbane kicked the opening four goals against Fremantle at Optus Stadium, but the Dockers piled on the next eight and went on to win 14.9 (93) to 10.10 (70).

Brisbane and Collingwood, pictured here after both starting the AFL season 0-2.
Grand finalists Brisbane and Collingwood have both started the AFL season 0-2. Image: Getty

The mid-match fade-outs are a huge concern for Chris Fagan, who reckons the Lions' bye has come at the perfect time. Brisbane conceded eight unanswered goals in both matches, and Fagan is determined to find out why.


"It's something new to have those drop offs in the middle of the game," he said on Sunday. "I don't have an early theory, I must admit. I haven't seen them coming, both times that they've occurred, and we tried a lot of things today to quell Fremantle's momentum.

"We took a spare behind the ball, we played an extra at the stoppage - the usual things that you do - but it didn't make any difference in the middle part of that game, which is disappointing. You want to stop momentum. You don't want teams to score a lot of goals in a row, and that's happened twice in a row now."

AFL fans in disbelief over Brisbane and Collingwood woes

The Lions will now have a bye before taking on Collingwood in a grand final rematch on March 28 at the Gabba. "Fortunately, we've got a few days now before we play Collingwood," Fagan said.

"If we'd won those two games, I'd probably say that I don't want that bye. It probably will be good just to take a bit of a breath in and work out a few things. Collingwood, who played in the grand final last year, are struggling as well (at 0-2), so we've just got to find a way."

Dayne Zorko, pictured here during Brisbane's loss to Fremantle.
Dayne Zorko (L) looks on during Brisbane's loss to Fremantle. (Getty Images)

Fagan pointed out that Brisbane also started 0-2 and 1-3 in 2021, but still went on to finish fourth. They also started 1-2 last year before surging all the way to the grand final.

"We've been zero and two before and made the top four," Fagan said. "It's a long way away, but we just have to think clearly about what's going on and try and find some solutions. We will remain optimistic."

Collingwood dismiss talk of AFL premiership hangover

There's also huge concerns for Collingwood after back-to-back losses to GWS and Sydney by 32 and 33 points respectively. A number of their biggest names were caught in some pretty questionable efforts in both matches, but coach Craig McRae has dismissed questions about the dreaded premiership hangover.

"That's probably a natural thing to say but it's not how we think," McRae said on Friday night. "We have trust in the process and we try to get better every single day. That's been our mantra for two years and it's not going to change."

McRae has first-hand experience of backing up the next season after winning a premiership. He played in Brisbane's hat-trick of flags under Leigh Matthews from 2001-03.

"We're not standing still here and there's a lot of time to go, which gives us great belief and comfort," the coach said. "But the reality is there's a lot of hard work, too, in the coming days because we play again here in six days' time.

"We've got to get busy but we can't look too far ahead. Hangovers and doing this and not the same ... we're here to qualify. That's it. So we're in the process of qualifying and before we do any of that there's no point in talking about anything else."

with AAP