BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan said his side’s heavy defeat to Melbourne was “out of character” and was similar to some of the big losses it suffered when he took over coaching the club.
The Lions entered the top-of-the-table clash with the Demons at No.1 on the ladder but were leapfrogged by the reigning premiers, who crushed the visitors by 64 points at the MCG on Thursday night.
The defeat could have been bigger given the Demons’ inaccuracy – they kicked 16.21 to the Lions’ 7.11 – and Fagan said he was surprised by what his side served up in a big game.
DEMONS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
“We should have lost the game by a lot more than we did tonight. We’re lucky they didn’t kick straight,” he said after the match.
“That’s as bad as we’ve played in a long, long time. That takes me back to the first couple of years [when I was coaching].
“The last three or four years our losses haven’t been like that so it was a disappointing night for us but credit to Melbourne for the way they played. They were on song and they deserved to win like they did.”
The defeat also stretches the Lions’ streak without a win at the MCG since 2014, with the club having one more game in the home and away season – against Richmond in round 20 – at the venue before the finals. The coach said it was the most frustrating result of the season so far.
“It feels like it’s out of character for us. It’s not what you usually get from us. Prior to tonight we’d lost three games but by small margins and games we could have potentially won,” he said.
“Tonight, outside of the first quarter, we weren’t in the hunt so it’s terribly disappointing but it’s not the end of the world. We get to play again next week and get the opportunity of redemption and that’s what you have to do in this competition.”
The Demons had their own sense of redemption, bouncing back from three consecutive losses to register a strong win over the Lions and reclaim top spot on the ladder.
After intense scrutiny on the club in recent weeks, Simon Goodwin said the Demons’ attitude hadn’t changed regardless of winning or losing form.
“Praise and blame is all the same for us. We try not to let the external criticism come into our footy club, as we do the same with praise and that happens all the time. If we can keep that level of consistency within our club we’re more chance of continuing to build momentum or you stop yourself from going into your shell,” he said after the win.
“The players have done a great job of that over a long period of time now. This started a few years ago for us when everyone was writing us off as a footy club and we were able to put the noise behind us then and it’s the same now. Nothing’s changed.”
He saved his own praise for his leaders, including stand-in captain Jack Viney, who was outstanding with 34 disposals (19 contested) in a best-on-ground performance.
“He’s an outstanding leader of our football club and tonight he showed it again. He’s been brutal around the contest all year and he’s been in some fantastic form all year. But I think tonight when the spotlight was on our footy club and he was skippering for the first time for the year he stood up massively for our club and I’m really proud of him,” Goodwin said.