<
>

AFL: Lachie Neale stars again in Lions' win over Blues

Another likely vote-winning display from Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale has helped Brisbane put one hand on the AFL minor premiership with a 17-point win over Carlton.

The prolific Lions midfielder was shadowed by Ed Curnow for most of Saturday night but racked up possessions at will in his side's 11.12 (78) to 10.1 (61) victory at the Gabba.

While Brisbane already had a crucial top-two spot sewn up, their seventh successive win sent them to the top of the ladder.

They will now claim their first McClelland Trophy - something Leigh Matthews' famed triple-premiership team never achieved - if Port Adelaide fail to beat Collingwood on Monday night.

Neale had 29 disposals and five clearances as defender Daniel Rich shone brightest for Brisbane in a 22-possession and two-goal performance.

Brandon Starcevich, Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko were also important for the Lions, who dominated general play for large periods after quarter time.

Lincoln McCarthy, Cam Rayner and Mitch Robinson each kicked two goals.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan felt it was a good tune-up for the finals.

"These are always hard games when, in a sense, it's a dead rubber for us because we're going to finish one or two," he said.

"But the players decided they wanted to make the effort tonight to play as well as they could so that we could go into the finals with a little bit of momentum up, and some confidence.

"I thought they did that well.

"We played incredibly well in the conditions, created many opportunities for ourselves, a lot of inside-50s and we played the game the right way for the conditions."

Carlton veteran Kade Simpson copped the brunt of an accidental head clash with Daniel McStay in the opening exchanges of his final appearance.

The 36-year-old veteran had 19 disposals and kicked the first goal of the second half to spark a full-team celebration.

But the 342-game veteran didn't get the result he sought before being given a guard of honour by both sides.

Carlton's clean chains of passes and some careless Brisbane defending at times led to a four-point lead for the visitors at the first break, with Sam Walsh racking up 11 disposals in the opening term.

Two majors from former Blues hard-nut Robinson helped break the game open for Brisbane as heavy rain fell during the second quarter.

The Lions took control, dominating the inside-50 count 23-3 for the term and kicking five unanswered goals as they held Carlton to just one behind.

The visitors could have rolled over in their final game of the year but stuck it out despite being outclassed.

Walsh was their best with 31 disposals and a mammoth 21 contested possessions.

Matt Kennedy and Curnow also found plenty of the ball, as Harry McKay kicked three goals.

Blues co-captain Patrick Cripps was troubled by a shoulder injury suffered before halftime and finished the match on the bench.