Brown is still the lion king

WHO said Jonathan Brown played on a season too long?

The Brisbane Lions champ came under fire last week after he laboured through a round-nine game against North Melbourne, failing to kick a goal and gathering just two disposals.

But in his 15th season, the 32-year-old again showed there was still some fight left in his ageing body to spearhead a thrilling win over Carlton at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The big fella produced three goals - admittedly one from a dubious free kick in the final term - as well as 13 touches and five marks.

For a guy supposedly past it, 19 goals from nine games this season, including two bags of four goals, against Hawthorn (round one) and Richmond (round five), is more than enough to suggest he made the right decision in playing on.

Sitting in the top 20 list of goalkickers, what other Brisbane key forward could collect those sorts of numbers right now?

And against the opposition's best defender?

Certainly not ex-Magpie Jackson Paine, who again struggled with four possessions and one goal, nor Michael Close, who looks promising but was again dropped for the Blues clash. Aside from the numbers in the stats columns, there is also the incredible leadership Brown is providing in the forward half, which coach and former

teammate Justin Leppitsch does not underestimate.

"He plays a really important role for us Brownie, things that people don't take note of," Leppitsch said post-match.

It was Brown's 254th game - and will be one he will no doubt savour as his young side, beset by injuries, withstood a Carlton outfit playing for its season.

Ironically, it was the only two footballers from the Victorian town of Benalla currently in the AFL who were involved in an incident that also played a huge part in the result, with Tom Rockliff goading Blues utility Jarrad Waite into pushing him to the ground and giving away a 50m penalty in the final term.

During a 36-disposal game, it was some of the Lions vice-captain's most telling work.

It meant first-gamer Zac O'Brien, who had a free kick outside the 50m was lining up for goal within 20m.

"His leadership, his ability to set up and his own output as well, he is happy to take on roles for us. He is a team man," Leppitsch said of Rockliff.

With the Bulldogs (away) and GWS (at home) to come in the next two rounds, the Lions have a real chance to collect another win or two.

But they will have to overcome this crippling run of injuries that has now claimed backup ruckman Trent West (knee), who joins No.1 big man Matthew Leuenberger on the sidelines.

Stefan Martin has recovered from a leg injury, and looks to the obvious choice to cover for the pair, but Leppitsch forecast the possibility of playing 18-year-old former basketballer Archie Smith.

Leppa loves the kids … and the odd old bloke as well.


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