Melbourne has moved a step closer to advancing to the grand final following a 33-point victory over an off-key Brisbane at Adelaide Oval.
Earlier on Saturday, GWS ended the Sydney Swans’ season with a pulsating one-point win in their elimination final in Launceston.
In Adelaide, Clayton Oliver collected 33 disposals and Bailey Fritsch kicked four goals in the Demons’ 13.15 (93) to 9.6 (60) win in their qualifying final.
The result means the Lions enter a sudden-death semi-final — likely to be played in Perth — against the winner of Sunday’s elimination final between the Western Bulldogs and Essendon.
The Lions will be without forward Daniel McStay, who was substituted out of Saturday night’s match with concussion and a facial injury after copping a stray knee from teammate Nakia Cockatoo.
Melbourne’s Rising Star winner Luke Jackson had some front teeth knocked out, also from an accidental knee, but the Demons appeared to emerge otherwise unscathed from their compelling win.
Oliver was a standout, with one goal, 10 score involvements, 18 contested possessions and seven clearances.
His teammates Christian Petracca (30 disposals, two goals), Jack Viney (28 disposals) and Alex Neal-Bullen (27 disposals) overwhelmed a Brisbane midfield overly reliant on Lachie Neale (46 disposals, 13 clearances).
Melbourne’s defence, led by Jake Lever, controlled all but Brisbane’s Charlie Cameron, who potted five goals in a losing side.
The Demons’ attack flowed with small forwards Fritsch (four goals) and Kysaiah Pickett (two goals), while tall target Ben Brown grabbed nine marks and kicked a goal.
Melbourne claimed a 5.4 to 4.2 quarter-time lead despite three goals from Cameron.
The Demons then seized control with a pressure-packed second term, with the elusive Fritsch booting two of four Melbourne goals for the quarter.
Brisbane’s sole goal was gifted by a Lever error on the mark, handing Jarrod Berry a 50-metre penalty and goal.
The Demons took a 30-point half-time lead, 9.10 to 5.4, with Petracca and Oliver sharing 34 disposals, nine inside 50s and seven clearances for the half.
Scoring dried in the third term, with 15 goal-less minutes ended by Cameron, who again swooped on a loose ball to convert a snap shot for the Lions.
Cameron’s strike was soon followed by an accurate set-shot from teammate Hugh McCluggage and the Lions were within 17 points.
But they never got closer, as the Demons led by 19 points at three quarter-time, before Fritsch added two more goals and Petracca iced the victory with two late majors.
Giants hold off Swans in thriller
Greater Western Sydney has held off a determined comeback from the Sydney Swans to post a thrilling victory in Tasmania.
The Giants managed just one point in a frantic final term in the 11.8 (74) to 10.13 (73) win.
But they may face post-match scrutiny after Toby Greene, who kicked a team-high three goals, appeared to make contact with umpire Matt Stevic at three-quarter time.
It came after a fiery third quarter in which Greene had a free kick for a high tackle overturned when he seemingly pushed Swans defender Justin McInerney in the face.
The Swans, who trailed by 29 points early in the third term, got within a major in the dying stages and missed several shots that would have given them the lead.
Lance Franklin, who edged closer to his 1,000th career goal with three majors for the match, had a chance from outside 50 with less than three minutes on the clock, but the kick was off-target.
The Giants have now beaten the Swans in their three finals encounters and will meet Geelong in next week’s semi-final at a venue to be determined.
Down 57-34 at half-time, the Swans roared to life on the back of young gun Isaac Heeney, who notched back-to-back goals and repeated the effort in the fourth term.
Greene was on fire early, booting the Giants’ first two goals in an opening term where the sides could not be split, with the score locked at 20 points apiece.
The Giants broke the match open with a five-goal run in the second term.
Franklin, who was at stages moved up the ground, struck twice in the second quarter, including an effort off the ground and a goal from a strong mark outside 50 metres.
Jesse Hogan had the chance to put the Giants further ahead early in the third off the back of two strong marks inside 50 early, but both kicks hit the post.
He nailed one after the third term siren to give the Giants a healthy lead heading into the final quarter.
The Swans’ Luke Parker finished top of the disposals count for the match with 33, while the Giants’ Harry Perryman was next best with 29.