'Unbelievable' Lion inspires side to big win over Freo
ANYONE can beat anyone this year, the footy world said. "Except for Brisbane."
The Lions are no longer the exception - but they're certainly proving the rule.
The club topped off a massive week, which saw them re-sign reported wantaway forward Josh Schache for another two seasons, by breaking its nine-game losing streak and beating a top-eight side (however questionable that was) in Fremantle 18.13.121 to 9.10.64.
Most observers figured this year would be just like last year for Brisbane. The competition's youngest list simply isn't good enough most weeks, but even as the clear bottom side, they'll always end up pinching two to four wins, as they did last year when they finished with three.
The Dockers took footy's longest road trip and became a big target. The team's percentage (81.4) showed they weren't really a top eight side on quality, while the absence of Aaron Sandilands - combined with the return of Lions gun Tom Rockliff - all went in the home side's favour.
But it wasn't necessarily any of those factors that decided the contest on their own on Saturday. Instead the continued emergence of the game's most underrated player must be given credit.
If he didn't play in a current football backwater, Dayne Zorko would be given the plaudits he deserves. The back-to-back best and fairest has turned from an impressive small forward into a mighty midfielder.
Champion Data's AFL Player Ratings place Zorko as the seventh best player in the league this season. When you combine excellent ball-winning skill with elite scoreboard impact and the most pressure acts in the competition, it's hard to argue that fact.
When the game was in the balance on Saturday, Zorko was easily best on ground. At quarter-time when the Lions led by 22 points, the 28-year-old had recorded 14 disposals with 10 contested possessions, six clearances and four inside 50s.
"What he's done tonight has just been unbelievable," commentator Cameron Mooney said on Fox Footy.
"He's done it at all ends, up forward and down back getting some numbers down there as well."
Zorko was already averaging 26.1 disposals, 11 contested possessions and 5.7 clearances per game. He raised all three of those today, finishing on 30, 14 and 10 respectively.
He told foxfooty.com.au during the week he came into the 2017 season wanting to prove he deserves a place among the game's elite.
But after battling through so much in Brisbane, the Queenslander is all about getting his team back in contention.
"It would be great to be recognised among some of the really good players in the competition, but from my point of view - I really just want to see us get back up and succeed as a team again," Zorko said.
"Whatever I have to do to help and to fast-track that process, I'll keep giving 100 per cent each week."
He did that and more on Saturday.