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Injuries sour Lions’ AFL pre-season win

The Brisbane Lions’ six-point AFL pre-season win against the Western Bulldogs has been soured by injuries to three emerging players.

In a rematch of last year’s classic semi-final, the Lions turned the tables on Friday night to solidify their status as genuine premiership contenders.

Brisbane led by 23 points at the final change, but managed to hold off the fast-finishing Bulldogs and prevail 12.14 (86) to 11.14 (80) at Marvel Stadium.

But Chris Fagan’s men will be counting the cost of their final hit-out before hosting Port Adelaide at the Gabba to open the season.

Slick defenders Keidean Coleman (hamstring) and James Madden (leg) failed to finish the match, as did young midfielder Deven Robertson (hamstring).

Coleman nailed down his spot in the Lions’ back-six at the end of last season and was one of their best performers in the finals series.

Madden and Coleman would have been considered unlikely to play in round one, with key defender Darcy Gardiner and returning star Cam Rayner late withdrawals against the Bulldogs.

“It’s a little bit early to assess those guys,” Lions coach Chris Fagan said.

“We expect Rayner, Gardiner and (captain) Dayne Zorko to all be available for round one so we’ve got some good players to come back in.”

Those issues took the gloss off an impressive performance by the Lions, who had nine individual goal-kickers and rotated a range of players throughout the midfield.

Daniel McStay showed why he was so badly missed in the Lions’ heart-breaking finals loss last year, kicking two goals and creating a presence as a strong marking forward.

Star midfielder Lachie Neale was the Lions’ leading possession winner on the ground and the star midfielder appears set to return to his Brownlow Medal form after being below his best last year.

The injuries were not confined to the Lions, with key Bulldogs defender Alex Keath struggling with a leg issue.

Keath was assessed in the rooms during the second quarter, returned to the field after a few minutes, but did not play in the second-half.

“Keath had a significant kick to the shin and he wasn’t moving to well so we took a very conservative approach with that,” Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

“It’s nothing serious, but you know what it’s like when you hit your shin on the edge of the bed…it’s hard to shake it off so we thought it was a better approach to remove him from the game.”

High-flying forward Aaron Naughton (three goals) and star midfielder Adam Treloar (two goals and 29 touches) were the Bulldogs’ best.

The Bulldogs will be desperate to atone for last year’s grand final loss when they open the season against Melbourne at the MCG on March 16.

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