AFL: Lions to host Demons in Gabba’s blockbuster

Lions legend Jonathan Brown has compared Brisbane ‘true winner’ Cam Rayner to Melbourne superstar Christian Petracca ahead of Friday night’s blockbuster between the top four prospects.

The winner of the Gabba clash will earn a top-four spot in the AFL final, while the loser – depending on other results this weekend – will in all likelihood finish in the bottom half of the top eight and will be forced into a do-or-die deal in the first week of the playoffs.

The Lions and Demons were forced to fight for their weekend wins.

Melbourne beat Carlton by five points after taking the lead with 11 seconds remaining.

Brisbane trailed for three quarters against St Kilda before battling to win by 15 points, thanks in large part to Rayner’s three goals in the final quarter.

“It was important to get the win. the way they fought at the end was awesome,” said Brown, a three-time premiership winner and former club captain.

“The bonus that comes with that is the confidence that Rayner would get from that as the true winner of the game.

“In the context of the game and the season, it was absolutely his best performance ever.”

Brown said Rayner, who missed all of last season after undergoing knee reconstruction, now had a sincere belief that he could “really break a game”.

“We’re going to see one of the true winners of the competition in Christian Petracca at The Gabba on Friday night and hopefully Cam can continue to open games like Petracca has been able to do a lot,” Brown said.

“Cam has been compared to Petracca over time, and I think he can reach Petracca’s level.”

However, Brown said it wasn’t just Rayner who would have to shoot if the Lions were to beat the reigning Premiers this week.

“At the moment it’s believed that they (the Demons) are running better than Brisbane,” he said.

“Whether it comes from an athletic talent standpoint, a desire, or an effort standpoint, who knows?

“But the end result is that Melbourne have been able to dominate Brisbane around the contest the last few occasions they have played.

“The challenge is there for Brisbane, and what better place to do it than the week before the final to secure a top four place.”

Brown said the Lions have the artillery to win a premiership for the first time since 2003.

“They just need to be more consistent during games. Their best football has been really good, and they obviously need it for four quarters against a team like Melbourne,” he said.

“Melbourne don’t score very well, and the problem is when you play against Brisbane you have to score.

“Brisbane are the highest scoring side in the competition (with 2,090 points scored in 21 appearances)… and at the moment goals are hard to come by for the Demons.

“Brisbane is absolutely not out of the running for prime minister. They are as dangerous as any team in the competition if they can turn their game on.

Originally published as Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown says Cam Rayner can be as good as Christian Petracca

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