Table-topping Lions happy to be hunted

Lincoln McCarthy (No.11) and his Brisbane teammates celebrate a goal in their AFL win over Geelong.
Lincoln McCarthy (No.11) and his Brisbane teammates celebrate a goal in their AFL win over Geelong.

Top of the AFL heap with one round to play, Brisbane are happy to move from hunter to hunted heading into this year's finals.

The Lions' thrilling one-point win over Geelong at a packed Gabba on Saturday has set up another huge game this Sunday at the MCG against fourth-placed Richmond.

A win over the Tigers would secure the minor premiership and change opinion of the Lions from surprise packets to genuine premiership threat - if they haven't done that already.

Small forward Lincoln McCarthy says outsiders' opinions on the team won't change an approach which has delivered 16 wins and just five defeats in 2019.

"You've got to embrace good games," McCarthy said.

"If teams want to make you the hunted then so be it, it's not going to change the way we come out and play."

The speed of the Lions' rise has taken even McCarthy by surprise.

The ex-Cat, whose stunning mark and goal in the dying minutes on Saturday to put the Lions in front secured the win over his old club, joined the Lions late last year firmly aware they hadn't played finals since 2009.

Despite picking up just five wins in each of Chris Fagan's first two seasons as Lions coach, McCarthy said he'd seen enough positive encouragement to convince him he was joining a club on the up.

"Maybe not so soon but ... we could see the improvement was there and it was coming and the team was really building," McCarthy said.

"Just maybe didn't think that the team would be in the position we are at the moment.

"So it's all about making the most of that opportunity and keep pushing forward and keep trying to improve."

McCarthy's late impact on Saturday would've been particularly hurtful for Cats fans.

The 25-year-old managed just 29 games across an injury-marred seven seasons with the Cats but has been an ever-present with the Lions this season.

Saturday's match was his 50th AFL appearance with 21 having come in 2019 alone.

"That was all the goal for me, trying to get out on the park every week," he said.

"We've been lucky enough to do that and hopefully that can keep happening. Week-by-week."

Australian Associated Press