Brisbane have stamped themselves as the front-runners to challenge reigning premiers Melbourne with a resounding 24-point victory over Sydney.
The Lions were without Joe Daniher for the second half but were still able to withstand a Lance Franklin-inspired fightback by the Swans to run out 17.11 (113) to 13.11 (89) winners.
Brisbane dominated in the ruck and around the stoppages to lead by 33-points at halftime but saw the margin all but disappear as the Swans kicked five goals in the opening eight minutes of the third term.
Franklin slotted four of those majors including a dribble kick from the boundary line that was paid despite bouncing off the goal umpire and back into play.
Brisbane then responded with five unanswered goals of their own to set up their first win at the SCG since 2009.
The Lions’ hoodoo-breaking victory was soured by an injury to star forward Daniher who left the field just before halftime and was then subbed out with a shoulder injury during the main break.
Daniher entered the round sitting in equal-second place in the Coleman Medal with 19 goals, but could only kick two behinds from his three disposals against the Swans until struck by injury.
“He had a bit of a sore shoulder so we didn’t want to take any risks with him,” Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said.
“We had 10 goalkickers tonight, we regularly have 10 goalkickers. We don’t really rely on one person to score for us.”
While Franklin finished the match with six goals, Tom Papley was unable to have his usual impact in his first game of the season.
Papley had been sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained in the pre-season but after winning the opening clearance of the match, the 2021 All-Australian forward could only gather 10 possessions and failed to hit the scoreboard while the Swans only had five goalkickers.
“We got what we knew we’d get. It was his first game back, we’re not relying upon Tom Papley. He hasn’t played for six weeks, he’ll be better for that run,” Sydney coach John Longmire said.
The top-four contenders entered the clash as the highest scoring teams in the competition with Brisbane averaging 16 goals a game and Sydney 15, but in an error-filled opening it took 10 minutes for the first major to be slotted.
Even that came after Errol Gulden spilt a simple uncontested mark inside 50 but was at least able to recover quick enough to get a boot to the ball and steer it through.
Dan McStay kicked the only other goal of the first term, after Dane Rampe chose to thump the ball out of the goalsquare with two fists rather than marking then failed to get a finger to the ball as the Brisbane tall forward wobbled a shot through at head height.
The Lions’ veteran Dayne Zorko returned from half-back to his more familiar midfield role and kickstarted the contest in the second term with back-to-back goals from outside 50m in the first five minutes, as the visitors then pushed out to 7.7 to 2.4 lead at the main change.
The victory entrenches the Lions in second place on the ladder with West Coast at the Gabba to come on Saturday night, while the Swans will be back at the SCG to face Gold Coast.