Lachie Neale better than ‘when he won the Brownlow’, Brisbane Lions vs GWS Giants

Lachie Neale stunned the AFL when he ran for the Brownlow Medal in 2020, but the star has shown that this may have been the tip of the iceberg.

Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale has inspired his team to a 16.14 (110) to 15.6 (96) over the GWS Giants, arguably showing better form than his record Brownlow run.

The 2020 Brownlow medalist racked up 31 votes in just 17 games during the shortened Covid season with the most points per game in the award’s history under the 3-2-1 voting system.

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But while he was outstanding in 2020, even Neale believes he is better this season and his performance against the Giants showed exactly why.

Although Neale had a tough season last year, he missed two months of footy with an ankle injury and suffered the blowback after being linked with a bombshell return to Fremantle.

But on 3AW’s Sportsday this week, Neale said he’d gone to another level in 2022 and outperformed when he claimed the AFL’s biggest individual prize.

“I feel like I’ve made strides in my game this year, and everyone knows and I know I was really average last year – I didn’t play well at all,” he said.

“However, from 2020 I feel like I am a better player than I was then.

“I have a long season ahead of me, but most of all happy with my start compared to last year.”

He also revealed that he had lost 4-5kg during the off-season and although he did lose some muscle, he said that “it is currently paying off”.

And the Giants felt their fury as the Lions bounced from 30 points down in the first quarter, as Neale inspired his side with 39 disposals, two goals, 19 disputed possessions, nine clearances and six tackles.

Three-time premiership winner with the Lions Alastair Lynch was blown away by Neale’s form.

“He’s been a star,” Lynch told Fox Footy.

“A few years ago, the Brownlow, last year he just got beat up and didn’t have a preseason, came in short and chased his tail all year round.

“You just saw how consistent it is coming out on court this season. He’s clearly playing better football than he was two years ago when he won the Brownlow. I think he’s a more damaging player, just such a clean player.”

David King agreed, saying: “Patrick Cripps is going well and will cause some trouble, but it will be a better 2022 than 2020 if he wins it.”

After Hawthorn’s shocking loss last Sunday, the Lions improved their record to 9-2, while the Giants fell to 3-8, but they lost no friends with how they battled Brisbane all afternoon.

Neale, Jarrod Berry (a career-high 33 divestments, eight within the 50s and six evictions) and Cam Rayner (a career-high 25 divestments) were the driving forces in Brisbane’s midfield that was heavily beaten in the first quarter, but they found the footy and their mojo to get past GWS with Linc McCarthy scoring four goals for the Lions.

The Lions put the pedal to the metal in the third term, kicking five goals to two to stay away from the exhausting Giants. A Neale snap late in the third extended Brisbane’s advantage to 19 points to follow a spectacular goal for the recalled Dev Robertson.

A thumping running goal for Brandon Starcevich then took Brisbane to a 26-point cushion which was reduced to 21 points by the final change.

But the Giants couldn’t narrow the lead much further and ended up falling 14 points short.

With Greg Davis, NCA Newswire

Originally published as Lachie Neale Masterclass Proves He’s Better Than His 2020 Brownlow Season

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