Reigning AFLW premiers Brisbane have overcome a giant scare from winless St Kilda to hang on and win by five points.
The inaccurate Lions trailed the Saints until midway through the third term in oppressive, windy conditions at Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham on Sunday.
After kicking 11 behinds before slotting their first goal, the Lions rallied after half-time to win 3.13 (31) to 4.2 (26).
The Lions were thrashed by Adelaide in the opening round but have now put together four consecutive wins to remain in contention for back-to-back flags.
St Kilda brought serious intensity and pressure early, as Nicola Xenos kicked two-first quarter goals to help the Saints grab a surprising eight-point lead.
Brisbane dominated the third quarter with goals to first-gamer Luka Yoshida-Martin and premiership heroes Sophie Conway and Greta Bodey to head into the final break with a handy 16-point advantage.
But the Saints came again, capitalising on kicking with a significant breeze to get within three points of the Lions midway through the last quarter through goals to Caitlin Greiser and Tilly Lucas-Rodd.
But the more talented Lions’ class prevailed, holding out multiple charges from the brave Saints, including an opportunity near St Kilda’s goals with just seconds to go.
“From quarter-time onwards, we were pretty good, in general play and we had the 16 shots at goal,” Lions coach Craig Starcevich said.
“You’d be disappointed to lose a game like that but we definitely didn’t come to play early enough and it could have cost us.”
All-Australian contender Emily Bates continued her dominant campaign with 17 touches, while Irishwoman Orla O’Dwyer was again a standout.
In a concern for the Lions, electric forward Dakota Davidson was taken off in the third term after suffering a head knock and did not return.
It was the first game of a gruelling stretch for Brisbane, who have to play four matches in 15 days after one of their contest earlier in the season was called off due to COVID-19.
The Lions have just four days to get ready for a QClash against the improving Gold Coast Suns on Thursday night.
St Kilda will face Carlton at Ikon Park next Saturday.
“We felt like we did a lot right against a really good opposition in the Lions,” St Kilda coach Nick Dal Santo said.
“We honestly never speak about an honourable loss, we speak about our values and doing it for four quarters, and today we did it for the majority but the majority ain’t going to get it done.”