Brisbane have edged local rivals Gold Coast to make a winning start to their 2017 AFL season.
Despite holding a seven-goal lead at halftime, the Lions were nearly overrun by the Suns in the dying minutes at Metricon Stadium but held on to claim a 15.8 (98) to 14.12 (96) win.
Ryan Bastinac finished with three goals for the Lions, who began life under new coach Chris Fagan with victory.
New skipper Dayne Beams shone for the visitors with 28 disposals and six tackles to pick up the Marcus Ashcroft Medal as the best on ground while the man who did hold the captaincy at the Lions, Tom Rockliff, was the top disposal gatherer in the match with 37.
For the Suns, Tom Lynch booted three majors while Aaron Hall and debutant Ben Ainsworth had two each as they played leading roles in the hosts’ comeback.
Former Suns’ skipper Gary Ablett picked up 28 disposals and laid eight tackles in his first match since relinquishing the club’s leadership in the off-season.
The Lions simply charged out the blocks with Mitch Robinson and Dayne Zorko kicking two goals each as the visitors booted seven unanswered goals before the Suns could get on the board.
Another double, this time to Bastinac, in the second quarter extended the Lions’ lead to an imposing 46 points by the main break.
Suns’ coach Rodney Eade’s words at halftime must have spurred his charges as they responded with an eight goal third term.
The Lions did enough to retain a three-goal margin at the final turn but momentum was with the home team heading into the final quarter.
And with 10 minutes to go that halftime margin was gone when Adam Saad charged through the midfield and scored a behind, which levelled the scores and set up a grandstand finish.
Lewis Taylor and Lynch shared goals to keep the scores close but the Lions did just enough to hold on and secure an upset win.
Lions coach Chris Fagan admitted the final minutes had been tough to endure in the coach’s box.
“It was heart within the group,” Fagan said about what had got his team over the line.
“It wasn’t anything special we tried to do. We were probably saying Hail Marys up in the box to tell you the truth.
“The boys steadied. They knew what to do … it was more coming from them internally.”
A dejected Suns coach Rodney Eade said the match was lost in the opening 20 minutes as the Lions ran riot over his charges.
Hoping the slow start is an aberration, Eade said simply too many of his key players hadn’t delivered in that opening period.
“Probably three or four of our players in the team didn’t play very well, which was unusual,” Eade said.
“Do they handle being the favourite? Do they think it’s just going to happen or where they totally surprised by it? I don’t know.
“The fact they fought back shows they’ve got a bit of fight in them.”