“I thought two young teams just went like two bulls, and were both left standing but one got through, and we got through.”
And Lions coach Chris Fagan didn’t disagree, saying his team expected no less. If you’re out there, you’re fair game, aren’t you? That’s the way the game goes, you take no prisoners in a final.
“It’s high stakes in finals. I actually think in the last two weeks we’ve stood up pretty well under finals-like pressure, even though we’ve got nothing to show for it.
“But I don’t think our boys have taken a backward step at any stage, and they’ve competed really well and now they know what it’s like. Everyone wants the prize, so the heat goes up.”
Regardless of what either says, the Match Review Panel will be kept busy this week, and once again Toby Greene, the Giants best player on the night, is likely to be in the middle of it.
Greene, over the top of a prone Lachie Neale, appeared to reach underneath the star Lions centreman and upwards towards his face, which Neale was left holding as the play moved on.
Greene escaped with a fine after being referred directly to the tribunal after a similar incident involving the Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli last week and must be at risk of missing next week’s preliminary final against Collingwood.
“There’s always going to be speculation on any game that’s gone that close,” Cameron said. “The big thing though we’ve got to concentrate on though is that was a fantastic game of footy, and both sides left nothing in the tank.”
Cameron said star midfielder Stephen Coniglio was “an outside chance” to return from injury but again cautioned that “if there is any doubt with Stephen we will not be taking him into any game.
“He needs to recover from his operation and he needs to be 100 per cent confident to play in such a huge game … It’s probably a small chance.”
Fagan said his team had earned “experience money can’t buy” from the experience. “We’re still the second-youngest list in the competition and third-youngest in terms of games-played average,” he said.
“In terms of the season we’ve had it’s been a brilliant season. No one would have expected this.”
“But just because we won 16 games this year doesn’t mean we’re going to do it again next year … The key to it is we don’t want to be a flash in the pan club. We want to be a club that can consistently get into finals.
“To be honest I thought it might have started to happen next year. It’s happened a year earlier and now we’ve got a reputation to live up to.”
Fagan conceded his side had lacked poise at times and that had cost them. “Probably, over the last two weeks … It was our problem two years ago in home-and-away games, and it’s been a problem in finals.
“Everyone says you’ve got to play in a few finals to know what they’re all about, so we’ve got that experience and hopefully it’ll help us grow next year.”
But Fagan reaffirmed that he was proud of his side, and paid tribute to fans who had flocked back to the club this year. “They’ve made a huge difference to us. You could tell after the game they’ve appreciated the way we’ve played our footy this year.”