‘What a night, seriously’: Lights out for Demons as Lions win after Gabba blackout
The Gabba was plunged into darkness by a power outage that halted play for almost 40 minutes to delay – and nearly thwart – Brisbane’s march to a 11-point victory over Melbourne.
The Lions were leading by 40 points with about 12 minutes remaining in the final term on Friday night when the lights went out.
A lone bulb caught fire in a tower but power was restored and play resumed before the 60-minute cut off that would have handed Brisbane victory.
The hosts prevailed 14.9 (93) to 13.4 (82) – and with a big sigh of relief after conceding five unanswered goals once play resumed.
“What a night, seriously,” Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said, before jokingly requesting not to be asked about the final 13 minutes.
“We played so well for three-and-a-half quarters … we had them on the ropes.
“There’s nothing to lose for the team that’s behind in that situation so, psychologically, that was an advantage to them and they did it well.”
In eerie scenes, the players had stood on the ground for several minutes before heading inside as power slowly returned to the ground.
They reappeared about 30 minutes later to warm up and were suddenly back under way.
It was a confusing sequence of events but not the first time it’s happened at the Gabba, with a Big Bash League fixture in 2019 ended early by a power outage.
In 1996, disgruntled fans lit fires on the surface and in the stands of Waverley Park when a blackout forced St Kilda and Essendon’s clash to be completed a week later. Three years later, the MCG scoreboard caught fire.
There were calmer scenes at the Gabba, though, as 30,047 cheery fans broke into song waiting for a resumption.
Earlier, the Lions, still smarting after a first-round hiding from Port Adelaide, shot out of the gates with six first-quarter goals while Demons star Max Gawn left the game with a knee injury.
The ruckman cut a devastated figure on the sideline and will wait on scans, hopeful of no long-term injury.
Steven May was ruled out of his calf injury return before the bounce and the Lions went in for the kill, Melbourne’s second-quarter resistance blown apart with two early third-quarter goals that looked to have sealed a win for Fagan’s side.
Brisbane upset the Demons in last year’s semi-final and Fagan was keen to show it was no “fluke”, especially after their slack Adelaide Oval effort last Saturday.
Playing at half-forward, Dayne Zorko (22 touches, two goals, eight inside 50s, four tackles) showed how important he remains to Brisbane after missing round one, while Cam Rayner was electric in defence and Will Ashcroft (31 touches) a midfield jewel in his second AFL game.
Rayner, Lachie Neale and Josh Dunkley helped Brisbane blow the Demons apart in the clearances, winning 60-32 and collecting 26 between them.
Early pressure from Jarrod Berry helped restrict Clayton Oliver to one first-half clearance, but the Demons star still finished with 37 disposals.
Ben Brown (four goals) and Bailey Fritsch took their chances to get the Demons back within 20 points in the second quarter, but quick Charlie Cameron and Joe Daniher goals to begin the second half snuffed them out.
Teams went goal-for-goal early but the Lions exploded late in the first quarter, notching 14-straight inside 50s.
With the forlorn Gawn icing his knee in the dressing room, Zorko, Ashcroft, Oscar McInerney and Daniher (four goals) all hit the scoreboard to create an early 25-point lead.
“I love the will and the fight in our team,” Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.
“There’s a lot to take out of that last 12 minutes … but Brisbane beat us in a few areas that are really critical to the game.”