Lions prevail in tense, physical Roos test

The Brisbane Lions have edged North Melbourne by 12 points in an AFL thriller.
The Brisbane Lions have edged North Melbourne by 12 points in an AFL thriller.

Brisbane have prevailed in a back-and-forth final term to move to outright second on the AFL ladder and add another chapter to their AFL resurgence.

The Lions' 12.15 (87) to 12.3 (75) victory over North Melbourne was their 12th of the season but nothing came easy, even when the game finally looked won entering the final 10 minutes on Saturday night.

They trailed by 21 against a relentless North Melbourne in the first term before hitting the lead in the third term as they looked to be motoring to a fifth-straight triumph.

But, ahead by 12 with eight minutes to play, North kicked two against the run of play to ignite a final-quarter battle that featured four lead changes.

Ben Brown's third goal put the Kangaroos in front before 200-gamer Daniel Rich drilled the go-ahead goal from 50-metres with four minutes on the clock.

Tarryn Thomas kicked his second of the term to silence the 23,833 at the Gabba, before Oscar McInernery and Hugh McCluggage both kicked straight after earning penalties in the final 80 seconds.

Jarryd Lyons (30 disposals, 23 contested possessions, 13 clearances, two goals) and Allen Christensen (three goals) did the damage for the Lions while Shaun Higgins (27 disposals) slotted straight back into the groove in his return from shoulder surgery.

It is the Lions' longest winning streak in 12 years, with coach Chris Fagan admitting the fashion of the win would serve them well in September even if wayward kicking had denied them a more comfortable victory.

"It's a good way to play, because there's pressure on in finals," he said.

"Our blokes just wanted to win tonight and so did North; it was a big game to win.

"They threw everything at us ... to show some composure in the end was sensational."

Having won five of their last seven, North found plenty of space up front and Mason Wood launched one from 50m in the pocket to continue their charge.

Relentless defensive pressure squashed any signs of a Brisbane comeback as the visitors threatened to spoil Rich's celebrations.

The hosts kept coming though, Christensen goaling in each of the first three quarters and Lyons sneaking one through late in the third quarter to give the Lions their first lead.

The weight of possession and territory finally told as Brisbane kicked 3.5 in a third quarter where North didn't add to their halftime score.

A classy McCluggage finish then powered Brisbane 10 points clear in the final term, before a Thomas bomb set up the nail-biting finish.

North Melbourne (7-10) drifted two wins outside the top eight with the loss.

Coach Rhyce Shaw admitted he "didn't understand" the McInerney free kick for a push in the back that gave Brisbane the decisive lead, but insisted he wouldn't dwell on it.

"It ebbed and flowed and game's going to be like that when the contest is so fierce ... in the last five minutes they took their chances and credit to them," he said.

Australian Associated Press