AFL DEMONS LIONS
Brisbane have overcome the influence of Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn to claim a narrow four-point AFL win over the Demons.
The Lions racked up their sixth win of the season in Stef Martin's absence with the 7.11 (53) to 7.7 (49) victory on Sunday night at Metricon Stadium.
With Martin sidelined due to a stress fracture in his back, Oscar McInerney and the inexperienced Archie Smith were tasked with stopping three-time All-Australian Gawn.
Rather than going one-on-one with Gawn, however, the Lions allowed the Demons' big man to dominate the hit-outs only to smash Melbourne in the clearances.
While Gawn won 41 hit-outs, with 15 of them to advantage, the Lions claimed the clearance battle 35 to 22.
That allowed influential midfielders Lachie Neale, Hugh McCluggage and Dayne Zorko to run the game for the Lions.
Neale picked up 33 disposals, while Jarryd Lyons had nine tackles for the Lions.
Charlie Cameron kicked two goals, including one on the run in the third quarter which came moments after Harley Bennell had missed a golden opportunity at the other end for the Demons.
"It was really important for us to win clearance and contested possession against a side that I rate the best at it in the AFL and we were able to get a tick on both of those. Our pressure was really good," Lions coach Chris Fagan said.
"So we did a lot of things right. I just thought for about 10 minutes there, in the middle of the last quarter, we lost our composure.
"I thought the last two minutes we did pretty well but it took us all that quarter to get it to happen so we'll learn from it but we were grateful for the win."
Despite being down by 18 points at three-quarter time, the Demons set up a grandstand finish with a dominant final term but just couldn't get their noses in front.
Clayton Oliver had 28 touches and 10 tackles for the Demons, while Jake Melksham kicked three goals and Bayley Fritsch booted two.
Melbourne's powerful ball-winner Christian Petracca continued his fine recent form with 24 disposals, eight tackles and five inside 50s.
Demons coach Simon Goodwin said his team had just come up short in the moments which mattered.
"We gave ourselves opportunities. There's no question about that but we didn't execute them," Goodwin said, admitting a late score review for a possible Brisbane behind had cost his team valuable momentum as they looked to get out of defence.
"If you don't execute against the best, you generally don't win. We're disappointed as a club; we came here to win.
"We want to be a winning club and we didn't do that."
The biggest 'nearly' moment of the game belonged to Cam Rayner.
The Lions' small forward had mark of the year in his hands after taking a ride on Gawn's shoulders late in the second quarter but was unable to hold onto the Sherrin.
The second-placed Lions face Essendon on Friday, with veteran defender Daniel Rich almost certain to miss after tweaking a hamstring in the third quarter, while Melbourne take on top-of-the-table Port Adelaide on Thursday.