The ‘Superman-like’ play that saved Brisbane in one of the AFL’s greatest finals

Lachie Neale put on one of the greatest performances in one of the best AFL finals ever, according to his bosses at the Brisbane Lions.

Key points:

  • Lachie Neale was the best on ground and came up with a clutch tackle in the final minute
  • It is Brisbane’s second finals victory since 2009
  • The Lions will have to win four straight finals to claim the AFL premiership

The midfielder and Brownlow Medal favourite had 39 touches and 15 clearances in a two-point defeat of Richmond in their elimination final at the Gabba.

Coach Chris Fagan called it “one of the great finals games you’ll ever see”.

The 16.10 (106) to 16.8 (104) win was just Brisbane’s second victory from seven finals in the past four seasons, and one of the most thrilling the league has seen.

The game had 17 lead changes, including one with a minute left when Joe Daniher toed home the game-winner off a loose ball in the goal square, but there was still time for one more enormous play by Neale.

After Richmond won a hit-out just outside their defensive 50m arc, the electric Shai Bolton swooped on the bouncing ball near the centre circle and wound up looking to launch it forward to his Richmond teammates in the forward 50, but Neale produced his final stunning act in a superhuman performance.

“He dives like Superman to tackle Shai Bolton through the middle of the ground,” Lions chief executive Greg Swann told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“Shai’s pretty quick and he managed to drag him down and stop them going forward and we got the ball.

“That’s one of the greatest finals games anyone’s ever played. It was an amazing performance.”

This tackle in the final minute may have saved the game for Brisbane.(Getty: Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

Swann, who has been in charge of Collingwood (1999-2007), Carlton (2007-14) and Brisbane (since 2014) in the AFL, said it was the best game he had been involved in.

“In my 20-odd years as a CEO there was another game that I had on top of the ladder as my greatest ever time, but I think last night went past that,” he said, alluding to Collingwood’s away win over Port Adelaide in their 2002 qualifying final.

If Brisbane is to carry on in this finals series, it will also have to pull off a major win on the road, with a trip to Melbourne or Sydney looming as they prepare to face the loser of the Demons-Swans qualifier.

No matter what happens, the Lions will not play another home game this season, which could make a big difference considering the atmosphere at the packed-out Gabba on Thursday night.

“It sounded like there was 100,000 people there,” Swann was told by some of the Lions players.

“It was so raucous you couldn’t hear the umpire, you couldn’t hear your teammates calling for the ball. The atmosphere was incredible.”

Author: Ivan Robinson