Brisbane coach Chris Fagan says his side’s humiliating loss to Melbourne was “as bad as we‘ve played in a long, long time”, suggesting the performance reminded him of some big defeats he endured during the start of his Lions tenure.
The Lions on Thursday night were humbled by a relentless Demons outfit at the MCG, suffering a 64-point loss in a brutal reality check for Fagan’s troops.
After the Lions kicked three of the first four goals of the game, Melbourne found a ruthless gear in a premiership statement while Brisbane appeared helpless to stop its opponents’ momentum.
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Speaking to reporters post-game, Fagan said the big loss was reminiscent of some of the heavy defeats he oversaw during 2017 and 2018 when he won just 10 of his first 44 games in charge.
“I didn‘t see it coming – and I don’t think we saw it in the first quarter either,” Fagan told reporters post-game.
“It was a promising start … But this game was always going to hinge on who’d win the territory battle – so therefore who wins the contest – and Melbourne won it hands down. We should’ve lost the game by a lot more than we did. We‘re lucky they didn’t kick straight.
“That‘s as bad as we’ve played in a long, long time. That takes me back to the first couple of years (when Fagan was coach). The last three or four years, our losses haven’t been like that. A disappointing night for us, but credit to Melbourne the way that they played. They were on song.”
Fagan said Brisbane’s performance was “out of character”.
“It‘s not what you usually get from us,” he said.
“Prior to (Thursday night), we‘d lost three games by small margins in games we could have potentially won. Outside of the first quarter we weren’t in the hunt, so it’s terribly disappointing.
“But it‘s not the end of the world. We get to play again next week and we get the opportunity of redemption.”
The Demons on Thursday night dominated at the coalface, winning the contested possession (+38), clearance (+11) and inside 50 (+19) counts convincingly, particularly from quarter-time onwards.
Fagan said the contested ball differential, in particular, was “staggering”.
“It was all we talked. You try to work out what parts of your game aren‘t working, but if you can’t win the contest then nothing else is going to really work for you,” he said.
Asked if the performance would sting Brisbane’s midfield, Fagan said: “I think it will. I hope so. Otherwise, we get nothing out of tonight if we repeat it again next week.”
Fagan said Hugh McCluggage put in an honest performance, while Daniel Rich and Oscar McInerney earned their spots. But “outside of that we didn‘t have too many good players”, according to Fagan.
“Do I give the boys a mulligan and move on? Or do we go to hard analysis? I haven‘t made up my mind which way to go yet, but they’re the two choices,” he said.