Wet and tough conditions saw Footscray go down to an experienced Brisbane Lions outfit by 25 points at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex on Friday afternoon.
The Lions started fast to get out to a commanding early lead, which a fighting Footscray outfit could only break-even on in tough conditions, suffering a 14.14 (98) to 10.13 (73) loss.
Mitch Hannan returned for his first game since round three of the AFL season, and was the composed left-footed figure in defence, before being moved forward in the final quarter to try and conjure something exciting.
He did just that with a brilliant goal on his non-preferred side, before almost taking what would have been a mark of the year contender. He pleasingly got through the game and ended with 11 disposals to go with his goal.
An experienced Lions side got the jump on the Bulldogs in a rain-ravaged first quarter, with the lead getting as large as six goals, but a fast finish from the red, white, and blue resulted in a 24-point difference at the first break.
It was tough going in the wet conditions, but the Bulldogs defence did well to create pressured and tougher kicks at goal from a swathe of entries from the home side.
The two late goals created a wave of momentum that the ‘Scray was able to carry over into the second quarter with some early shots on goal and general control of the territory.
Riley Garcia eventually broke through as the Dogs looked increasingly threatening, continuing to reduce the Lions lead, but inaccuracy in the wet and a pair of arduous replies the other way saw them trail by 26 points at half-time.
Despite this, the Bulldogs had dug their heels in and managed to reduce the inside 50 discrepancy to ensure the game remained even after the fast Brisbane start.
Brisbane started with a flurry again to what seemed to be the scoring end of the ground, before the Dogs managed to stem the flow as they did in the first quarter to kick three of the last four goals.
Debutant Kai Stretton hit the scoreboard with his first goal in VFL footy, as the margin stood at 31 points heading into the final quarter.
There was hope left with the Bulldogs showing they had the ability to control the game for periods at a time and score consecutive goals, as they placed the pressure well and truly on the Lions to begin the final quarter.
Controlling possession as well as they had all game, the scoreboard pressure eventually started to ramp up from the Dogs, with a crucial set shot from Will Lewis and a lovely right-foot snap from Hannan both sailing through for goals.
From there, however, Brisbane managed to hold on and secure a 25-point victory.
Louis Butler also returned to the VFL and made an immediate impact kicking Footscray’s first of the game, covering lots of ground in the wet to gather 24 disposals and four tackles.
Skipper Lachie Sullivan was strong in the engine room as usual with 25 disposals and seven clearances, joined by Toby McLean (23 disposals) and Riley Garcia (21 disposals, one goal).
Lachlan McNeil played his first game in the VFL since Footscray’s round two victory, leading all comers on the scoreboard again with three goals.
Buku Khamis joined him as the only other multiple goalkicker with two, as he looked dangerous in one-on-one situations all day despite the wet conditions not favouring his aerial ability.
The Dogs will next head to Trevor Barker Oval on Sunday 10 July at 12pm to take on Sandringham.
Brisbane 6.7 8.9 12.12 14.14 (98)
Footscray 3.1 4.7 7.11 10.13 (73)
Goals: McNeil 3, Khamis 2, Butler, Lewis, Hannan, Garcia, Stretton
Photo credit: Brisbane Lions