AFL grand final: Brisbane has not lost to Collingwood since 2019

A blistering final six weeks of the season, including a win over Collingwood in Melbourne, has raised the confidence at the Brisbane Lions to grand final winning levels according to newly minted Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale.

The Lions peeled off six straight wins, including a 24-point victory over their grand final opponents the Magpies at Marvel Stadium in round 23, in the run to Saturday’s MCG decider, averaging 14 goals a game during that dominant stretch.

Brisbane is also the only team to have beaten the Magpies twice in 2023, taking them down by 33 points at the Gabba in round 4 on the back of six goals from Charlie Cameron.

The two wins form part of a six-game unbeaten run for Brisbane against Collingwood that began in 2020.

But Brisbane co-captain Neale, who secured his second Brownlow Medal on Monday night, doesn’t believe that history means much come Saturday.

Instead, Neale pointed to the six-straight wins that followed a shock loss to the Gold Coast Suns almost two months ago as the greater evidence of how well placed Brisbane is to add a fourth premiership cup to the club’s trophy cabinet.

“Our confidence comes from our performances probably over the last six weeks,” Neale said on Tuesday morning.

“One of (those wins) was against Collingwood which was really important, and a good win, but their team will change a fair bit from that game.

“They’ve got pretty important ‘ins’ with (Nick) Daicos and (Jordan) de Goey didn’t play that night either, and there were probably a couple others (Darcy Moore and Bobby Hill) as well.

“We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a fierce contest. I don’t think we take confidence from (that win), but we take confidence from where our game sits at the moment and the footy that we’ve been playing against all opposition.”

Neale said he wasn’t feeling any extra pressure to produce a best-on-ground performance in the final on the back of his latest Brownlow Medal win.

Playing in his second grand final, having played in a losing Fremantle team in 2013, Neale is on the third line of betting behind Magpies Daicos and de Goey to win the Norm Smith Medal.

But Neale said winning was the only goal and he just wanted to play his part in making that happen.

“I’ve got to reset pretty quickly. It’s pretty overwhelming but I’m mature enough now to switch that off,” he said.

“(Our) last two finals have probably shown that I’ve been far from the best player on the ground and we’ve had two really good wins. It’s just playing my part in an amazing team.”

The Lions had an open training session in front of more than 1000 fans at Springfield on Tuesday, with key defender Jack Payne continuing his battle to recover from the ankle injury that forced him out of Brisbane’s 16-point preliminary final win over Carlton last Saturday.

Payne trained lightly away from the main group. A final decision on whether he will play in the grand final is expected to be made after Brisbane’s session on Thursday.

Experienced forward Linc McCarthy, whose calf was bandaged on Monday, only trained for a small part of Tuesday’s session before heading to the change rooms.

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