Luke Hodge has delivered a scathing assessment of the Brisbane Lions' loss in their AFL season opener, with the former Hawthorn champion labelling it 'embarrassing'. Hodge was fiercely critical of Brisbane, where he played two seasons before retiring, after their premiership ambitions took a hit courtesy of a rampant Port Adelaide.
Brisbane were handed a 54-point lesson by the Power, with major off-season addition Jason Horne-Francis dominating in his first game since being traded from North Melbourne. After consecutive top four finishes in previous seasons, Hodge said the loss would be a wake up call for the Lions, who face Melbourne in round two and the Western Bulldogs the week after.
'REALLY POOR': Hawthorn under fire over ugly scenes in thrashing
Incredibly, the Lions held a two goal advantage over the Power at half-time. Hodge said he believed the Lions had gotten ahead of themselves, particularly after impressing against reigning premiers Geelong in the pre-season.
Port Adelaide had other ideas, piling on eight goals to one in a dominant third quarter, before outscoring the Lions again in the fourth quarter. The result was a pleasing 18.18 (126) to 11.6 (72) in front of their home fans.
“That was very poor from the Brisbane Lions Football Club,” Hodge said on SEN's Sportsday. “From where they’ve come from, they’ve been top four.
"The football they played against Geelong in the last practice match was really good, the intensity was up. This one just looked like a team who thought they were going to do it.
"They came up against a team who had a lot more intensity, every time Port had the ball they had a free person to pass it to. The Lions didn’t want to man up and it was embarrassing to watch the way they played with the list that they have, but then you look at the intensity of Port Adelaide… (they would) be pretty happy."
The tackle count being in favour of Brisbane at full-time belied how badly they had been beaten at the contest, with Port Adelaide having 141 more disposals for the game and dominating contested possessions 150-116. The Power also had more opportunities in front of goal thanks to taking 24 marks inside 50, compared to six for Brisbane.
Despite the loss, Hodge said he wasn't concerned about the long-term potential of the Lions. However, he said it was a crucial early reality check for a team with legitimate premiership ambition.
“The system’s good when the attitude’s good,” Hodge said. “When the attitude is poor the system’s poor. It’s tough when you know a lot of these guys… it looked like the attitude wasn’t there.
“They were going to walk out there and do what they wanted and walk away with a win… their system, when they’re up and about, their system is fine. So I’ve got it down to their attitude.”
Chris Fagan at a loss after Port Adelaide run riot over Lions
The second-half collapse left Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan perplexed. Despite the poor second half, Fagan said 'cool heads' would prevail and the club would seek to make amends for the effort in round two.
"For some reason or another the effort wasn't there ... all the things that we pride ourselves on were non-evident," he said. "You have got keep cool heads sometimes when you lose a game of football like that, analyse properly what happened.
"There's the game statistics that tell you what happened but there's also what is going on in people's minds. "Were we as ready as we should have been ... responsibility for that sits on my shoulders as much as it sits on the players so I will have a review of myself first."
Brisbane led by 18 points in a second stanza punctuated by a blow-up from Port's Charlie Dixon. An abusive Dixon gave away consecutive 50m penalties, leading to a Daniel Rich goal - the first of six majors for Brisbane in the quarter.
But Horne-Francis then stole the spotlight, assisted in midfield by Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines (29 disposals) and Zak Butters (24 touches). Power backmen Ryan Burton (24), Darcy Byrne-Jones (27) and Aliir Aliir (seven marks) nullified Brisbane's forwards with ex-Hawk Jack Gunston and Zac Bailey scoring two goals apiece.
Brisbane's hyped debutant Will Ashcroft, last year's top draft pick, snapped a classy goal among his 13 touches and former Western Bulldog Josh Dunkley was solid with 19 touches.
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