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Cameron slick as Lions dump Bulldogs

Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich were early casualties but Charlie Cameron blasted Brisbane back into the AFL winner’s circle with a 41-point defeat of Western Bulldogs.

Keen to respond after last week’s 64-point loss to Melbourne, the Lions were wobbling when down by 18 early in the second quarter at the Gabba on Thursday night.

But their pressure lifted and the hosts kicked five of the next six goals, extending an 18-point halftime lead in a six-goal third term to prevail 16.12 (108) to 9.13 (67).

Small forward Cameron terrorised with four goals and five goal assists from just 12 possessions, while Jarrod Berry kicked two goals in his 100th AFL game.

But their captain Zorko lasted just five minutes in his return from a hamstring injury that appeared to flare up, while All-Australian teammate Rich was also done before halftime with a hamstring complaint.

“That was probably more than I would have hoped for, in a way, given there was some adversity early in the game with Zorko and Rich,” coach Chris Fagan said.

“It’s very early to be down a man … I thought we’d have our work cut out for us a bit, but the boys rose to the occasion.

“It was a special game (from Cameron) wasn’t it … he’s a constant danger to the opposition. We needed some inspiration and he provided it.”

The Bulldogs (8-7) had won five of their last six games and beat Brisbane by a point in last season’s Gabba semi-final.

But the loss will see them on the outside looking into a tight top-eight battle, while Brisbane (11-4) moved back into second.

Stoic fullback Harris Andrews and precise halfback Keidean Coleman turned the screws from defence to ensure their remarkable regular season record at the Gabba since Easter Thursday in 2019 improved to 33-1.

Luke Beveridge’s Bulldogs had controlled the early stages, the Lions dropping off more than half their tackles to make just seven compared to the visitors’ 16 in the first quarter.

Tom Liberatore had five clearances – as many as the Lions combined – in a 11-disposals first term that also included a brilliant snapped goal from deep in the pocket.

The Bulldogs led by 18 points in the first quarter when debutant Dominic Bedendo was mobbed by teammates for kicking his first AFL goal.

But it was then that Brisbane responded, the buzz only dulled slightly when Oscar McInerney’s sneaky drop-kicked goal in traffic was curiously overruled as touched on the stroke of the main break.

Beveridge lamented missed opportunities and an inability to exploit a a 15-plus clearance differential.

“We couldn’t get any fluency and the quality of our use was pretty disappointing all game,” he said.

“There’s some Charlie Cameron brilliance but it was Brisbane Lions as a collective raising it to another level in the second half and we couldn’t quite go with it.”

Lachie Neale had 33 disposals for the Lions, while Liberatore matched him and Jack Macrae had 32 touches and 10 clearances for the Bulldogs.

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