Brisbane’s weather rained on Jonathan Brown’s parade but his Lions teammates ensured North Melbourne didn’t with a stirring four-point Gabba upset.
Brown got to sing the Lions team song one last time, five days after his retirement, as his club made a mockery of the Kangaroos’ top-four ambitions.
The Lions continued inconsistent North’s fluctuating fortunes, as well as a nine-year Gabba drought, with a tense 10.10 (70) to 9.12 (66) win.
Leading by 20 points at the last change, Brisbane kicked five behinds in the final quarter and held on by their fingernails for a massive morale-booster.
The Kangaroos, who were well below their best, had their chances in the dying minutes with a long-range Ryan Bastinac shot bouncing through for a behind and Drew Petrie passing when he should have aimed at the sticks.
Irishman Pearce Hanley starred with a game-high 34 possessions while the marks count of 112-39 to Brisbane told the story.
Brown was officially farewelled by the adoring Gabba faithful with a lap of honour at halftime just as the heavens opened.
The 15,862-strong crowd had stayed on their feet after giving their team a standing ovation as they headed to the sheds with a 21-point lead following a seven-goal second term.
With the “Mozzie Squad” of Dayne Zorko, Josh Green and Lewis Taylor at the dangerous best, Brisbane kicked 10 of the 11 goals after the visitors jumped to an early 22-point lead.
In fact, it took until the 23rd-minute mark of the opening term for Green to snap their first major.
But from there, until Petrie twice got out the back late in the third-quarter, the Lions ran the Kangaroos ragged.
“Big Jono Brown isn’t there any more, but geez they’ve got some pace with their small guys,” Petrie admitted at halftime.
North looked lethargic and lacked Brisbane’s hunger following their dominant start.
Lachie Hansen was a late withdrawal and missed, while Petrie finished with four goals and Nick Dal Santo (30 disposals) and Sam Gibson (28) were also among their best.
Kangaroos coach Brad Scott cut an annoyed figure post-match and delivered stern words to Tom Rockliff on the field after the Lions vice-captain had continued his verbal sparring match with Brent Harvey after the siren.
Scott was coy about his conversation but hinted Rockliff needed to show more respect.
“My take on it is there’s humble in victory and gracious in defeat and you would have to ask Tom that question,” he said.
Scott labelled his side’s second quarter as disastrous and felt they paid for their complacency after routing Brisbane early but only scoring three goals.
“It should have been over at quarter-time such was our dominance,” he said.
“It’s a lesson for our guys. Nothing comes easily in this competition and you have to work for it
“Our players know what happened – five goals from stoppages, just completely unacceptable, disorganised, embarrassing.
“But credit to Brisbane, they outplayed us in the second quarter and they looked good tonight, they looked quick.”
Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch hailed the much-needed win, coming after just three goals in a dreadful away loss to Fremantle, and the icing it delivered on Brown’s retirement cake.
“All the romantics out there will be very pleased the fairytale is complete,” he said.