But neither side could find a clean path to goal on the dewy surface. Two of the three first-half goals to the Eagles came from free kicks. The Lions had a slight edge in the scoring opportunities they were able to generate, but missed a number of relatively simple shots at goal.
It was a night for defenders: Harris Andrews, playing his 100th game for the Lions, easily accounted for Josh Kennedy, while the Eagles’ Will Schofield similarly blanketed Eric Hipwood. Brad Sheppard kept the elusive Charlie Cameron on a tight leash.
But in the third term the Lions lifted, taking the game back from the centre circle. McCluggage, soundly beaten by Andrew Gaff in the first half, began to take control of his wing and was involved in several key plays, while Lyons and Neale kept driving their side forward.
They had some luck: Berry, Cameron and Oscar McInerney all goaled from free kicks, and a hacked kick inside 50 from Mitch Robinson landed squarely on Neale’s chest. But they also had all the momentum and drive into attack, and took a 17-point lead into the final break, the biggest lead of the match.
It was McCluggage who hit Zac Bailey lace-out to extend the margin beyond West Coast’s reach, with Liam Ryan, Luke Shuey and Elliott Yeo all finishing the game sore. Stuck in the east for another two weeks, their season already looks in danger of slipping away – provided, of course, the game continues to play on.
BRISBANE LIONS 1.2 2.6 7.9 10.14 (74)
WEST COAST 2.1 3.4 5.4 6.8 (44)
Brisbane Lions: J Berry 3, Neale 2, Starcevich, Cameron, McStay, McInerney, Bailey.
West Coast: Ryan 3, Darling, Naitanui, Kennedy.
Brisbane Lions: McCluggage, J Berry, Neale, Lyons, Andrews, Gardiner.
West Coast: Naitanui, Sheppard, Gaff, Ryan.
CROWD: 1965 at the Gabba.