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‘I’m improving every week’: Morabito

Written By malwan milad on Sabtu, 21 Juni 2014 | 23.52

Anthony Morabito continues to impress at WAFL level. Source: Daniel Wilkins / News Corp Australia

ANTHONY Morabito may have answered the million dollar question in AFL circles with a best-afield effort for Peel Thunder.

After being denied another chance to return to AFL level with the Dockers, the long-term injured midfielder ripped it up.

After a week in which his return had been the talk of the town, Morabito was hopeful a return to the elite level would be sooner rather than later.

"It's the million dollar question," Morabito said.

"I've just got to keep performing at this level and keep doing the stuff that the coaches and the match committee ask of me consistently at this level and once I can demonstrate that I can do that then it's up to them.

"When I'm selected, I'm selected. I'm not really too concerned with that. That's out of my control and I'm really pleased just to be playing footy consistently and to be healthy."

Morabito had a more attacking role in Peel's second win of the season and clocked up 28 disposals and kicked two goals. The 22-year-old said he is putting in the effort to get the AFL call up but he is enjoying playing week to week without any injuries.

"I feel like I'm improving every week, it's definitely now just a matter of executing my role down here and keep putting pressure on myself to perform," he said.

"I've still got a fair bit of stuff to work on, on my game.

"Obviously missing a fair bit of footy and our game plan is quite strict, so there's a lot of stuff that I can improve on, but definitely getting my hands on the footy is a good starting point."

After three knee reconstructions, Morabito has not played for Fremantle since 2010 and with his contract with the club up at the end of 2014 he said his future was out of his control.

"Over the last couple of years it's just been a matter of wanting to play footy so I haven't even crossed that path yet, to tell you the truth I'm just really happy to play footy,' he said.

"Whatever happens in the next six months, a year, whatever happens, happens. That's another thing that's out of my control. I've just got to work hard every day and see what happens from there."

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Cleansweep’s our time for payback

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NSW advisor Bob Fulton is a rugby league immortal. He has achieved more than most players and coaches ever have.

But in his only interview since last Wednesday night's epic victory by NSW, Fulton explains why it was one of the greatest feats in modern-day sport.

You went off in that coaches box when the siren went. Do you remember the first thing you said to Laurie?

You know, emotions from people are different. And the older I get, the more emotional I get. It was an overwhelming feeling of "we did it". My emotions were for Laurie and the team.


Laurie Daley and Bob Fulton having a coffe together to discuss team selections. Source: News Limited

Can you believe how big State of Origin has become?

This is the greatest rugby league competition on the planet. It deserves to be a world game. It's an ideal game for America, they would love this contest. I've spoken to people in the US and they're astounded by the collisions. No other competition pits 34 players against one another in the way Origin does. And we saw that in both game one and two. Amazing.

When did everyone know the drought was over?

When the final whistle went. I've seen too many Origins when the game wasn't done until that final whistle. The last four or five minutes in game one drew a line in the sand for NSW. By holding the best attacking players, both collectively and individually, we've seen at any level is a fair indication of the trust and commitment this NSW side has. Wednesday night was just our time.


NSW coach Laurie Daley with Steve Roach and Bob Fulton, sharing a beer. Source: News Corp Australia

As well as being an advisor to Laurie, you're an Australian selector. Do you feel that the majority of Kangaroos chosen for the end of year Four Nations will be Blues players?

Over the past eight years, Queensland have had on average 10 players involved with the Australian team. But with every year, over these past few years, there has been increasingly more NSW players getting into the Test teams. That says something about how the gap at Origin level is closing between NSW and Queensland.

They have had the best one, six, seven and nine in the world for the last eight years. Without comparing our players to theirs, it takes a super human team-effort to overcome their dominance.

After the match, James Tamou said that this is just the beginning for NSW. Do you also believe the tide has turned?

I do. We've got a great foundation of current players within this NSW team who still have plenty of football in front of them and who can instil a winning culture for the younger players coming through.

NSW skipper Paul Gallen in action. Source: News Corp Australia

You're an Immortal. You've won premierships, Origins and been on Kangaroos tours. So where, in your career, did Wednesday night rate for you?

They all have varying degrees of importance and achievement and, personally, I think that comes down to the individual on how it's assessed. But this series win is up there with best ever by a NSW side given the quality of opposition.

Outside of the players, what was the biggest influence on this team?

Laurie, of course, and what Ricky Stuart did prior to him was critical. But, for me, the support for Laurie through the NSWRL with Dave Trodden and George Peponis and his board has been unbelievable. The decision by Laurie, Dave and the board to go to Coffs Harbour was a must. We needed a change in mindset and it was about a change in discipline, too.

NSW's Jarryd Hayne sings the team song in the rooms. Source: News Corp Australia

Can you describe the Laurie Daley
you know?

We had a meeting with the referees on Tuesday before the game. And Laurie comes across as a Clark Kent type personality. Easygoing, laid-back and all that. But inside, when you scratch below the surface, he's as emotional as any player or coach I know and the referees found that out at this meeting. Laurie started out Clark Kent, but ended up as Godzilla. He was that emotional. I was so impressed that they knew Laurie was so upset for his team — that he thought his team got a real bad serve in game one. They'd never seen Laurie like that before. But he rides everything. He couldn't have been more thorough, he's the complete package.

In your opinion, is Jarryd Hayne the best player in the game at the moment?

It's a hard question. Put it this way, Jarryd's 10 out of 10 is better than the 10 out of 10 of any other player. You look at the great players in the game and you certainly look at Jarryd, you look at Thurston, Inglis, Smith and Slater. They are all different builds and contribute differently to their teams. The lot of them are all freaks.

Jarryd Hayne attempts to bust the tackle of Aidan Guerra. Source: News Corp Australia

You said a couple of weeks ago that NSW man of the match Paul Gallen is a future Immortal. Do you stand by those comments?

I certainly do. When you start to look at players and what they contribute to a team, he's right up there with the very best. John Raper and Arthur Beetson are the only two Immortals to have played in the forwards. But the rest of us are all backs. I don't care if you're Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis or Johnathan Thurston or whoever, it doesn't matter. If your forwards aren't going forward, you've got no chance as a back. I think it's time we started to recognise the contribution of forwards in our game through the selection of Paul Gallen as an Immortal.

Are you staying in your role next year?

If David Trodden and the NSWRL board think I've got something to offer, I'd be more than happy to stay on. It's something I enjoy. I love working with guys as professional as Ricky to start with and now also Laurie. I coached both those boys. We've won Ashes Test matches, World Cups and so it's enjoyable to work with people you have a strong relationship with.

NSW's Paul Gallen wrapped up by the defence. Source: News Corp Australia

But were you starting to feel a bit of pressure after the eight years of coming up short?

Not really because I've been involved when we've won series as well.

Before this series, how confident were you of winning the series?

Very. As I said, going to Coffs Harbour was not only a brave move but a calculated move by Laurie. They were able to prepare without distraction. The other thing is I could see what Laurie had done with discipline within the team was also going to have a big impact on the side when the going got tough, which is what we saw particularly in game one when NSW defended their own try line against one of the greatest teams ever for six consecutive sets.

Jarryd Hayne tackled by Cameron Smith. Source: News Corp Australia

Should the players have been presented with the shield in front of their fans?

Yes. Do I need to say any more? Yes.

A clean-sweep in just over a fortnight. Is that the goal now?

Game three will be tough. It's been 14 years since we've swept them. It will be a challenge, but we've won the series so the goal absolutely now is to clean-sweep them. There'll be no letting up from the players because they've suffered over the past eight years. Now it's time for payback.

Will NSW win game three of the State of Origin series?

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Bennett is worst ever Knights coach

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WAYNE Bennett now has the worst record of any Newcastle coach. Ever.

Bet you never saw that coming? Unthinkable only 12 months ago, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal how Bennett — an ageing sage with seven premierships, five Origin series, even a shock world title with New Zealand — is, statistically, the least successful coach in 27 years of Knights football.

Worse, it's a result costing $3 million to facilitate.

Knights coach Wayne Bennett addresses his side at training. Source: News Corp Australia

"That surprises me, obviously,'' Knights CEO Matt Gidley said last night. "But you know, as we all do, there are circumstances surrounding this situation.

"And the way Wayne has stabilised this club throughout an extremely turbulent period, the care he's shown ... it's been remarkable."

So exactly what does one make of this rare Bennett blemish? With his future in the Hunter unknown, and his team languishing in last place, it is hardly the position expected of a man who arrived on the cusp of winning premierships at three separate NRL clubs.

Certainly it doesn't take Mr Peabody to understand Newcastle were always going to struggle following, first, the tragedy surrounding forward Alex McKinnon; then, second, the saga that is departing owner Nathan 'IOU' Tinkler.


The NRL has took control of the Knights after Nathan Tinkler moved on from the club. Source: News Corp Australia

Throw in the jailing of prop Russell Packer and you've got the NRL equivalent of a Bermuda Triangle.

Yet through it all, insiders will whisper, Bennett has held strong.

Such a rock for players, staffers, even the McKinnon family, Knights great Paul Harragon wondered aloud recently if, maybe, the coach was here purely because no one else could keep the joint together.

Indeed, if ever you needed proof of what sets Bennett apart from the pack — why a bloke like Darius Boyd would follow Bennett into Hades or, worse, a media scrum —
re-read that moving column he wrote for McKinnon on these pages back in March.

Marvelling at how this grandfather, who has moulded hundreds, if not thousands, of young lives, can still talk so emotionally, so intimately, about one.

Tough times ... Newcastle Knight's coach Wayne Bennett at training. Source: News Corp Australia

But this is rugby league. A code where sentiment carries less weight than even Bennett during his days as a winger in Brisbane.

And, right now, the Knights are stumbling through their second worst start to a season ever — with only 2005, when they opened with 13 straight losses, uglier than their current 2-11 record.

In attack, Newcastle average fewer tries and points per game than all but Cronulla. In defence, they have missed the second most tackles with 31. All up, giving Bennett a success rate of 40.6 per cent.

And this number, you should know, is worse than Allan McMahon (40.7). Worse than David Waite (44.7). Worse even than Brian Smith, who had fans burning his effigy — or something like that — until he departed with a strike rate of 45.6 per cent. And so, we ask: Are the problems that have befallen Newcastle responsible for Bennett's coaching blemish, or simply masking it?

Winning percentage of former Newcastle coaches. Source: Supplied

Certainly, you can still see the super coach's fingerprints on this mob.

For a start, Newcastle are making the second least errors — with 10.6 per game. Elsewhere, they own the third best completion rate, have breathed life into Willie Mason and, only last winter, went within one game of a shock grand final appearance.

"Ask people around here,'' Gidley said, "and the thing they'll remember most about Wayne during all this turbulence is how he's

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Bombers rally to deny plucky Crows

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ESSENDON'S leaders made a couple of telling statements at Etihad Stadium.

The club may have been banned from last year's finals series, but it let the footy world know that it can still be a player in this year's September show.

If the game wasn't a classic "eight pointer" already, then Gold Coast's win over Geelong just minutes before the clash ensured that Essendon and Adelaide would be playing in a mini-final at Etihad Stadium.

The winner would go level, for the night at least, with North Melbourne, while the loser risked being two games and percentage out of the eight by weekend's end.

Bombers coach Mark Thompson said last week he wanted more leadership from his players.

He got it.

Early on it came largely from those in his official leadership group.


Later on it was the club's middle tier who stepped up.

But through it all there was one constant, Brendon Goddard, who, as acting captain, has stood up massively in the absence of the injured Jobe Watson.

Bomber Michael Hurley is mobbed after kicking the sealer. Picture: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia

The former Saint got the first clearance of the night and found Heath Hocking, who belied his stature to take a big pack mark 45m from goal.

Hocking goaled to give the Bombers the perfect start.

Brent Stanton kicked his first goal on the run from 45m then outmarked Patrick Dangerfield a short time later which resulted in him kicking his second and his team's sixth.

Dyson Heppell and Jason Winderlich had seven possessions each by quarter time as the Bombers got off to a flyer to lead by four goals at the first break.

At 36 points up 15 minutes in to the third quarter it seemed as if Essendon was home.

But when the Crows kicked the last three goals of the quarter to get within 15 points at the final change there was a strange sense of deja vu — the Melbourne game last Sunday all over again.

We can only assume that in that three-quarter time huddle Thompson asked for another statement from his leaders.

He got it, again, but this time it was the likes of emerging leader Ben Howlett — with his controversial goal of the year contender from the pocket — and Jake Melksham — with seven fourth quarter possessions to cap off a solid night all-round — who were standing up to be counted.

Howlett was awarded the goal despite replays suggesting the ball had brushed the post in transition.

While the umpires chose not to review the goal, Winderlich, in a post match radio interview, conceded it "touched the post".

The Bombers celebrate Howlett's last quarter goal. Picture: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia

Michael Hibberd, clumsy at best last week, was immense with his run off half back all night and emerged as one of his side's best.

Travis Colyer, 22, kicked a goal which almost lifted the roof off of the Docklands stadium midway through the term while Michael Hurley — a presence no matter where he is on the field — sneaked forward to kick the sealer four minutes from the finish to rebuff yet another Adelaide charge.

But it was Goddard, who doubled his possession count with a staggering 16 possessions in the last quarter alone, who the coach would have been most proud of last night.

If the midfielder's acquisition wasn't already worth it before, it surely is now, and it is he who the club will rely on most to further propel its finals charge.

The Crows, for their part, were largely disappointing but for a spurt here and there in quarters three and four.

They too, like Essendon, are capable of the exquisite but too often, particularly in Melbourne, don't produce.

Dangerfield looked hampered by a thigh problem. Picture: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia

Dangerfield was relatively quiet with just the 21 touches, but his output shouldn't have to be the barometer for Adelaide's performance.

Only Scott Thompson, (41 possessions) Sam Jacobs (35 hit-outs) and Matthew Wright (26 touches) would have walked off totally satisfied with their own games.

Josh Jenkins too, against his old side, threatened to be the matchwinner with four goals.

Questions will come again about Essendon's third quarter fade-outs.

But this time, at least, its players and coaches can answer them having still managed to win the game.

At times last night the Dons' footy was as good as it was in the first three rounds of the season when wins against North Melbourne and Carlton had pundits tipping the team for the top four.

The task now is to put four quarters together against a wounded Cats outfit to really give its finals charge momentum.

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Bomber: Our players needed the win

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ESSENDON coach Mark Thompson says the club's thrilling win over Adelaide helped deliver some much-needed joy into the lives of his suffering players.

The Bombers produced a gritty last quarter to hold off a fast-finishing Adelaide by nine points and avoid a repeat of last weekend when Essendon blew a commanding five goal lead against Melbourne.

While the victory has come at a cost, with dashing defender Michael Hibberd in doubt for next week's game against Geelong with a corked leg, Thompson said the performance was a significant one given the ongoing toll the supplement scandal was taking on the club.

Thompson agreed with Brendon Goddard's post-game assessment that the players felt it was them against the football world, as the club ramps up its legal battle against the ASADA probe into its 2012 supplement program.

When asked to explain what Goddard meant by describing last night's win as a "line in the sand" moment, Thompson said: "Line in the sand would be that we're feeling lonely, isolated and feel like it's just us."

"We feel like everyone's against us and we've just got to go out and have fun. And have some success and have some joy in our life.

"There's not much joy around."

Asked if the supplement mess was weighing on the players, Thompson said: "It sure is."

But last night's win helped buoy the mood, as Essendon produced a seven-goal opening to lead at one stage by 36 points before Adelaide's comeback.

"We were pleased with the victory, it would have been disastrous if we had have gone down and lost again with a big lead two weeks in a row," Thompson said.

"We've got to have some fun in the week and this is the fun time for them.

Thompson said he took the rare step of reminding his players about last week's fade-out with his team up by 15 points at three quarter time last night.

"I did (remind the players) which I rarely do, but I thought it (winning) meant that much," Thompson said.

"I wanted them to be, not shaken, but be aware. Be present in their mind and conscious mind that there was a chance they could feel like they did last week, and maybe be worse, and sometimes that can just drive people.

"I hope it did and I thought we handled the pressure of the last quarter reasonably well."

Former Cat Paul Chapman will definitely take on his old side on Friday night but Thompson confirmed Hibberd was doubtful to play the Cats.

Jake Carlisle would also have a fitness test to prove he is over a knee problem.

Thompson lauded the leadership of stand-in captain Goddard, who lifted magnificently racking up 16 last term possessions to help hold-off the Crows.

Thompson said working with Goddard at Essendon has changed his perception of the former Saint.

"He has actually set standards in terms of on ground talk and delivering feedback and setting things up and what he has added here is that he is getting the group together now, not just working individuals," Thompson said.

"He's done really well, I'm really pleased for him.

"Coming from another club not knowing him at all, you get this impression and perception of who he was and he's completely different. He really cares and he's a real pro and he's been good for the football club."

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Boks seal dramatic comeback win

South Africa's full-back Willie le Roux (L) is tackled by Wales' wing George North. Source: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

A DRAMATIC penalty try two minutes from time allowed South Africa to complete an incredible comeback and pip Wales 31-30 in the second rugby Test on Saturday.

The decisive moment in an action-packed encounter, that included seven tries and three yellow cards, came when Wales full-back Liam Williams' last-gasp tackle in the corner on South Africa wing Cornal Hendricks was deemed to be illegal, leading referee Steve Walsh to award a penalty try.

Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips (L) clears the ball out of a scrum. Source: AFP

Fly half Morne Steyn duly converted to put South Africa ahead for the first time in the match and, with his opposite number Dan Biggar failing with two late dropped goal attempts, the Springboks avoided what would have been a first ever home defeat by Wales.

South Africa won the two-match series 2-0 after a 38-16 win in the opener.

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Glory sign fringe Socceroo

Mitch Nichols has joined Perth Glory. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: Wayne Ludbey / News Limited

PERTH Glory has signed fringe Socceroo Mitch Nichols.

Nichols, 25, has signed a one-year loan deal with an option for a permanent switch.

The attacking midfielder won two A-League championships with Brisbane Roar and was in the side that defeated Glory 2-1 to win the title in 2012.

Nichols played 14 games with Melbourne Victory last season before moving to Japan's Cerezo Osaka.

"I'm really looking forward to returning to the A-League, playing under Kenny Lowe and joining up with the team he has assembled,'' Nichols said.

"I had options to stay in Japan and even Europe on loan; however, I wanted to return to the A-League.''

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Plucky Giants can’t catch Bombers

Written By malwan milad on Sabtu, 07 Juni 2014 | 23.51

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THEYVE learned how to compete now GWS need to learn how to win.

After butchering a host of goal scoring opportunities throughout the match and closing within a point of Essendon midway through the last quarter the Giants ran out of puff and ideas to go down by 15 points.

"I said to the players I'd prefer to have effort than composure at this stage," Giants coach Leon Cameron said.

"Probably some composure when we were going inside forward 50 and had a chance to take the lead we needed to make some better decisions but the effort was first class."

There were only 8,429 on hand at Spotless Stadium but they found their voice as the Giants produced another encouraging performance to follow up their seven point loss to defending premiers Hawthorn last week.

Suspended forward Jeremy Cameron was sorely missed as the Giants failed to convert their numerous opportunities in front of goal.

Jed Lamb boots the ball forward. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

"Part of building a club from scratch is you just have to put up with those honourable losses and if you can build your game when the tide starts to turn it will turn," Cameron said.

In the end footy nous and experience told as Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis steered the Bombers home and kept their finals chances alive.

"I never felt at any stage we were going to lose the game," Essendon coach Mark Thompson said.

The only concerns for Essendon were a quadriceps injury to Watson and a report on David Myers who elbowed the Giants Devon Smith directly in front of the interchange bench on the stroke of three quarter time.

"Jobe is being assessed, it's probably a quad (injury) if it is it's probably four weeks (out)," Thompson said.

Every time the Giants challenge Zaharakis was there to reassert Essendon's hold on the game which at times looked tenuous, his 34 disposals lead all players.

Joe Daniher also provided a target for Essendon that Jonathon Patton and youngster Rory Lobb couldn't for the Giants.

Although Lobb made a very bright start to his career and earned himself an entry in the media guide as the latest player to goal with his first kick at AFL level.

Shane Mumford in a ruck contest with Essendon's Patrick Ryder. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

His second possession was even more impressive when he leapt over a pack on the wing to clunk a mark and then deliver perfectly to Devon Smith who in turn found Jed Lamb to goal. His efforts made even more meritorious because he was playing on one of the game's greatest defenders in Dustin Fletcher who had an experience advantage of 386 games.

Lobb has jumped ahead of regular big man Jonathon Giles and talented youngster Andrew Phillips and looks to be a talent worth persisting with for the immediate future.

"I thought Rory Lobb was terrific," Cameron said.

"To take that mark in the first quarter and to kick that goal was exciting. Rory is a terrific young kid who we look forward to a big future from at this club."

Adam Treloar put in another quality performance for the Giants as did Heath Shaw, Dylan Shiel, Smith and Callan Ward.

While the Bombers started favourites the Giants liked their chances after getting within seven points of shocking the defending premiers Hawthorn at the MCG last week.

The match was enormously important to Essendon as well, if they are to play finals this year victory over GWS was imperative.

Courtenay Dempsey and Greater Western Sydney's Curtly Hampton compete for the ball. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

Opening quarter goals to Lobb and Lamb were cancelled out by majors to Cory Dell'Olio, Ben Howlett and Joe Daniher to give Essendon an eight-point lead at the first change.

The Giants started strongly in the second to edge in front with goals from Palmer and Smith before the visitors reasserted themselves to bring the lead back to 10 points at the long break.

Hampton was subbed out early in the third term with what looks to be a serious shoulder injury.

Daniher's second goal and another clever grubber kick from Ryder looked to have the Bombers in the driver's seat when the lead was 20 points at three quarter time.

A brilliant opening goal from Treloar followed by another from Rhys Palmer gave the Giants hope and a 60 metre bomb from Adam Tomlinson closed the gap to just a solitary point before Essendon settled to kick the next three to put the game to bed.

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Dogs left to rue as Lions pounce

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WESTERN Bulldogs midfielder Adam Cooney chipped the ball from just outside 50 to the hot spot at the top of the goalsquare.

Amid a pack of nearly a dozen players, Brisbane defender Joel Patfull marked it ... unopposed.


That was enough for Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney. Just two minutes into the third quarter, he released substitute Daniel Giansiracusa.

No time to save Gia to impact on the burst in the final quarter in his usual super-sub role. This was a rescue mission for the 32-year-old to try to kick-start the Doggies' scoreboard at Etihad Stadium last night.

Luke Dahlhaus holds on to Joel Patfull. Picture: Tim Carrafa Source: News Corp Australia

While Giansiracusa did slot a couple, the Bulldogs' inability to construct a competitive score again cost them dearly against this revived Lions unit.

The Lions' second victory on the trot and their third of 2014 saw them move above St Kilda and Greater Western Sydney, with the Giants dropping to last spot after a home loss to Essendon.

The Lions broke the game open with a seven-goals-to-two second quarter and went on to win 14.11 (95) to 13.9 (87).

Jason Tutt tackles Claye Beams. Picture: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia

While Tom Williams presented well, two goals wasn't sufficient return for a key marking target. Stewart Crameri won plenty of the ball, but too often outside range. And you couldn't expect too much from Jarrad Grant in his first AFL appearance this season.

It was so frustrating for the Dogs as the collective workrate gave them a chance until deep into extra time in the last quarter.

And they could only wonder what might have been if big Will Minson, Luke Dahlhaus and Giansiracusa had converted set shots in the tense final five minutes.

Easton Wood kicked a telling third-quarter goal. Picture: Tim Carrafa Source: News Corp Australia

But Brisbane deserved this rare triumph at the Docklands. While the 11 individual goalkickers emphasised the team element, they had solid contributors. Like Patfull down back, Rohan Bewick and Pearce Hanley won plenty of the ball and third-choice ruckman Stefan Martin held his own against the vastly more experienced Minson.

Brisbane produced its best quarter of the season, hammering the Dogs with 7.5 in the second term to split the game open.

Brown pushes Jordan Roughead out of the way. Picture: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia

The Bulldogs just couldn't contain the Lions speed, that fast break from a quick handball out of the congestion to set free the runners.

Dayne Zorko's blinding speed typified the Lions run and dare that so often left the Doggies looking lead-footed and missing tackles as opponents burst clear in the perfect playing conditions.

The Dogs paid Zorko the highest compliment by sending specialist tagger Liam Picken to him after the lively Lion had been involved in five of those goals in the dominant second quarter. He had a much quieter second half, but the damage was done.

Dayne Zorko and Jack Redden were influential in the second term. Picture: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia

It had started so full of promise for the Bulldogs too. Nathan Hrovat celebrated his 20th birthday by being on the end of a Dogs burst from the opening bounce to goal after just 21 seconds.

And the birthday boy helped himself to another goal late in the first quarter when the Bulldogs were more than a match for Brisbane with workrate and attack on the ball.

Liam Picken fires off a quick handball. Picture: Tim Carrafa Source: News Corp Australia

But the Lions signalled they were right in this contest with telling centre clearances in the last 10 minutes of the first term that produced goals from James Aish and Brown.

And Brisbane's ability to find space proved decisive in that second quarter blitz. It was as if the Lions had been given a licence to play on at every opportunity.

Wood and Marco Paparone get accustomed. Picture: Tim Carrafa Source: News Corp Australia

Even Jack Redden, assigned to run with Dogs key playmaker Ryan Griffen, chimed in with two goals. And his cheek to let Griffen know about it prompted a brief, ugly confrontation that threatened to spill over into a melee.

Redden's in-your-face reaction after the goal underlined the Lions' collective confidence to take on their opponents with that run, link and dare that left the Bulldogs with too greater task in the second half.

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Watson injury sours Bombers win

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ESSENDON'S fighting 15-point win over GWS Giants was soured by a thigh injury to captain Jobe Watson.

Watson limped from the ground midway through the final term following a seemingly innocuous marking contest and did not return, despite Essendon leading by just two points.

Watson briefly received treatment, before icing the area and appeared dejected in a post-match interview.

"I'm not sure, ill wait and see. It's a bit tender so ill have to wait and see," Watson said.

Essendon coach Mark Thompson said the early diagnosis was a "high quad" strain and the Brownlow medallist is in serious doubt for the Round 13 clash with Melbourne.

"The early call was quad. It's too early to call how long it's going to be — whether it's torn or not — it's probably a high quad.

Jobe Watson seeks medical attention from doctor Bruce Reid. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

The 11.15 (81) to 9.12 (66) win at Spotless Stadium marked the Giants' eighth straight loss, but they didn't go down without a fight, closing to within a point in a fiery final quarter.

Backing up from an encouraging performance against premier Hawthorn last weekend, the Giants heaped plenty of pressure on their more senior opponents in front of 8429 fans.

Both sides struggled on the slippery surface, particularly in a scrappy and low-scoring opening quarter.

Joe Daniher kicked three goals and flew for several high marks. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

It took fewer than 90 seconds for the Bombers to get on the board via late inclusion Cory Dell'Olio, in for Jason Winderlich for his first match of the season.

That was soon negated by the Giants' impressive debutant Rory Lobb, who nabbed his maiden major with his first kick in the AFL.

The 21-year-old ex-basketballer, the tallest player on GWS's list at 206cm, was brought in to help plug the hole left by suspended forward Jeremy Cameron and proved mightily useful across the park.

Essendon's Heath Hocking celebrates their win with team mates Patrick Ryder and Dyson Heppell. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

The Giants manned up well and, with their early energy, were within eight points of the Bombers at the first break. They burst out of the huddle in the second term, scoring back-to-back goals to take the lead.

But it was quickly undone by a series of turnovers, on which Mark Thompson's men capitalised with a pair of majors of their own, to head into the main break 10 points up.

Two early second-half goals to Essendon appeared to sap the spirit out of the home team, which managed only a single goal in a lacklustre third quarter to fall 20 points behind.

The term ended on a fiery note, with several players involved in a melee after Giant Devon Smith copped a high elbow from David Myers.

Tom Bellchambers grabs Callan Ward by the jumper near the three-quarter time break when a fight broke out following David Myers high hit on Devon Smith. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

The incident spurred on the Giants, who turned what was becoming an uneventful match into an exciting contest with quick-fire goals to Adam Treloar, Rhys Palmer and Adam Tomlinson.

It took them to within a point, before the Bombers wrested back control with three majors of their own. Treloar took his haul to three with a consolation goal on the siren.

Paul Chapman fires a handball ahead of Rhys Palmer. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

The Bombers will sweat on the fitness of veteran Dustin Fletcher, who was subbed off midway through the third quarter with a suspected lower-back injury. Skipper Jobe Watson also limped off in the game's closing stages.

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