Brisbane’s big guns have rebooted their stuttering season with a 57-point drubbing of Essendon in the wet at the Gabba.
Elsewhere in AFL results on Saturday, Port Adelaide beat Carlton by 28 points, GWS pipped Sydney by two points in a thrilling finish and the Western Bulldogs dished out a 62-point loss to Gold Coast.
In Brisbane, Hugh McCluggage, Harris Andrews, Lachie Neale and Joe Daniher ensured the Bombers were never in the fight in the 15.12 (102) to 6.9 (45) victory.
Both teams entered with 1-3 records, the dominant victory easing any doubts for the Lions, who are expected to challenge again after finishing second in the last two regular seasons.
The Lions were playing only hours after the club’s AFLW team won its first premiership following an 18-point victory over the Crows at Adelaide Oval.
Essendon lost defender and last year’s club best and fairest Jordan Ridley to concussion in the second term, while Jarrod Berry was reported for a slinging tackle then subbed out in the third quarter with an adductor (thigh) complaint.
The Bombers had kicked just one major at half-time and Daniher — playing against his former club for the first time — twisted the knife early in the third term when he marked and played on to create a 41-point lead for the first of his two goals.
Earlier, the returning Daniel McStay showed his importance with two goals, while third-gamer Jaxon Prior and Neale both also managed two and McCluggage had 19 touches and a goal in a scene-setting first half.
Lincoln McCarthy (10 tackles) was a constant menace while Andrews was slick in defence despite the slippery ball and Daniel Rich broke the game open with a staggering 906 metres gained with his booming left foot.
Eric Hipwood slowly saw more ball as he finished with three goals as the Lions stretched out in their first Gabba appearance since a season-opening loss to Sydney.
Neale (38 disposals) has battled a back complaint this season but there was evidence it was improving as he hoped, with the Brownlow medallist cleaner in traffic and direct with his ball use in his best game of the season.
And Jarryd Lyons amassed 22 contested possessions among 36 disposals in another understated effort.
The surface was drenched by a pre-match storm but, despite a mounting penalty count that finished 32-16 in favour of the Bombers, the Lions relished the tough conditions.
It took a 50-metre penalty midway through the second term for Cale Hooker to kick Essendon’s first goal, the forward finishing with four of his side’s six goals.
Essendon was powered by Zach Merrett (36 disposals), Kyle Langford (27 disposals) and Andrew McGrath (30 disposals, 12 tackles).
Power ease past wasteful Blues
Port Adelaide won its second match on the bounce and brought Carlton back down to earth in the process via a 28-point win at the MCG.
Coming off two consecutive wins, Carlton had hoped to make the Power its first big scalp but was left to rue wasted opportunities in the first half as Port Adelaide gradually kicked away to prevail 15.6 (96) to 9.14 (68) in front of 32,893 spectators.
Robbie Gray booted three goals — along with Mitch Georgiades — and provided a touch of class throughout.
Ollie Wines (32 touches), Karl Amon (28) and Darcy Byrne-Jones (24) were typically influential while Aliir Aliir was excellent down back.
Carlton young gun Sam Walsh continued his great start to the year, racking up 29 disposals and eight clearances. He was well-supported by Patrick Cripps (27), while Eddie Betts had his moments in attack.
Despite a gritty start to the match, David Teague’s side were unable to pounce on their early opportunities and once the Power settled, they looked a class above.
Cool-finishing Gray slotted three first-half goals while Georgiades nailed two — including caressing a delightful finish through from outside 50 — to help the Power nudge out to a 23-point lead at half-time.
The Power’s night was soured by a shoulder injury to Dan Houston, who was substituted for Willem Drew at the main break.
The Blues never dropped their heads but were consistently kept at arm’s length by Port Adelaide.
The Power all but sealed the result when they kicked 6.1 to Carlton’s 2.5 in the third quarter, including a run of four-straight goals.
Gun Carlton defender Jacob Weitering had to leave the field in the third quarter after copping high contact from Wines as he landed from taking a mark.
The key defender took his kick and shortly after was taken from the field — but passed a concussion test and returned for the final term.
The Blues fought out the final quarter, outscoring the Power to cut back the margin, but it proved too little too late.
Bulldogs hammer Suns to stay undefeated
Marcus Bontempelli has starred as the Western Bulldogs belted Gold Coast by 62 points to start a season with five wins on the bounce for the first time since 1946.
Under the roof at Docklands, the ladder-leading Bulldogs rag-dolled the Suns in the first half of 17.18 (118) to 8.8 (56) victory.
Bulldogs captain Bontempelli led from the front, gathering 33 disposals and kicking three goals in his 150th AFL match.
His best-a-field performance was supported by the midfield brigade of Josh Dunkley (37 possessions), Jack Macrae (35), Adam Treloar (26) and Lachie Hunter (25) as the Dogs piled on 10 unanswered first-half goals.
Danger signs were blaring early for the wounded Suns as Bontempelli slotted back-to-back goals to give his side a 23-point cushion at the first break.
Rookie debutant Jordon Sweet dominated in the ruck (32 hitouts), giving the Bulldogs’ classy on-ballers first use and allowing first-choice ruckman Tim English to start forward.
Young forward Aaron Naughton (two goals, six marks) pulled down a giant pack mark and kicked truly to continue the clinic after quarter-time before English opened his account.
The Bulldogs’ big forwards were not the only ones to get in on the act, with Hunter dribbling through a low bouncing snap and Treloar launching from outside 50 after showing a clean pair of heels through the middle.
To make matters worse, Oleg Markov — one of the Suns’ few shining lights of the first half — may come under match review scrutiny for a dump tackle on forward-turned-defender Bailey Dale.
The Suns were under siege when Lachlan McNeil, Dunkley and Treloar all snapped home to make it 10 unanswered goals in a first-half demolition.
Defender Jack Lukosius snuck forward to stop he rot a minute before half-time and help Gold Coast avoid its first scoreless opening half in club history.
Perhaps at the behest of coach Stuart Dew, the Suns came out a different side after the main change.
Multiple goals to inclusion Josh Corbett (three), star forward Ben King (two) and livewire Izak Rankine drew the visitors to within 34 points, cracking the door slightly ajar for a historic comeback.
But Bontempelli steadied the ship just before the final change, snapping around his body from 40 metres out to restore order.
The two sides traded blows early in the last quarter before Tom Liberatore, Bailey Smith, Naughton, Anthony Scott and Josh Bruce hit the scoreboard to kill off the contest.
Kelly snatches AFL derby win for Giants
Josh Kelly has snatched a two-point win for GWS over crosstown rivals Sydney, kicking a remarkable match-winning goal to cap a thrilling SCG derby.
Swans superstar Lance Franklin’s five-goal haul and the Giants’ inaccurate goal kicking looked like proving the difference.
GWS stand-in skipper Toby Greene was the worst offender, finishing with seven behinds and one goal to make it the most inaccurate game of his 163-match career.
But it was Greene’s goal that put his side within striking distance.
Soon after, Kelly’s optimistic attempted match-winner went out on the full.
But, with 66 seconds remaining, the midfielder pounced on opposing ruckman Sam Reid’s hitout then snapped truly from a tight angle to put his side in front for the first time since the first quarter.
The Giants held on during a frantic final minute, triumphing 9.17 (71) to 10.9 (69).
Key defender Tom McCartin made decent connection with his attempt to kick an after-the-siren goal from beyond 60 metres, but it was always going to prove too much of an ask.
GWS unsettled the Swans with praiseworthy pressure and dominated patches of the contest, making it four wins at the SCG from their past five visits.
Franklin, who slotted two second-quarter settlers in the space of 76 seconds, won the Brett Kirk medal while bringing his career tally to 955 goals as he inched closer to becoming the first since Tony Lockett to reach the magical 1,000-goal mark.
The four-time Coleman medallist was a steadying influence, booting third-quarter and fourth-quarter goals in response to GWS surges that trimmed Sydney’s lead to seven then nine points.
But Franklin could not conjure anything special at the end of the epic as the Swans’ undefeated start came to a halt in round five.
Sydney’s young guns were largely quiet, but coach John Longmire’s biggest concern may be ruckman Tom Hickey’s knee injury.
Hickey, who had been a key part of the Swans’ slick start to 2021, briefly returned to the field after a painful ruck contest with Shane Mumford then was substituted off in the fourth quarter.
Franklin and fellow Swan Jordan Dawson played on after painful third-quarter knocks, while Giants veteran Sam Reid was substituted off in the third term after tweaking his hamstring.