Brisbane were dumped out the 2021 finals by the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night, their second straight sets exit in three years.

Last year they won their qualifying final, but were then blown away by the Cats in a preliminary final at the GABBA. In fact, all three of their exits in finals under Fagan have come at the GABBA.

They now also have a 1-5 record in finals under Chris Fagan. And yet again a season that at one stage was full of promise now comes to a screeching halt and sees the Lions look on in disappointment and regret.

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This one should sting a little more too, Brisbane seemingly had the game in their keeping. They led by 18 points at the 25 minute mark of the third term.

The Dogs then booted four goals on the bounce either side of three quarter time to steal the lead.

When Zac Bailey levelled scores with a minute to go it seemed the game was set for extra time. However, a ruck free-kick that resulted in a clearance and the winning behind saw Brisbane bundled out on home turf yet again.

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The question now begs of those at Brisbane, where to next? Looking at their list, there aren't too many changes on their way you wouldn't think. Perhaps Grant Birchall will retire but other than the four-time premiership player, there isn't expected to be too many list changes.

Lachie Neale has been linked with a move back to Fremantle but he and the club are yet to confirm whether or not he will request a trade.

If the 2020 Brownlow medalist did depart, you would expect it would be from a hefty price as he is still under contract with the Lions.

AFL Rd 2 - Brisbane v Fremantle
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 13: Lachie Neale of the Lions celebrates kicking a goal during the round 2 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the Fremantle Dockers at The Gabba on June 13, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

They don't seem to be lacking anywhere across the ground. The major issue they had last night was converting their inside 50 dominance into goals. They did manage 12 marks inside 50 but they weren't able to convert as well as they would have liked.

The Lions won the inside 50 count 68-54, but they only scored 40% of the time as opposed to the Bulldogs 46% efficiency when going inside 50. That's a huge difference in a one-point game.

Joe Daniher was awfully quiet meaning Harris Andrews was thrown forward in the last quarter. Andrews took 3 marks in the final quarter while Daniher managed just 2 for the entire game.

While their forward line was possibly the breakdown that cost them the game in the end, it isn't an area they need to focus on in the off-season.

They Lions were without Eric Hipwood (ACL) and Daniel McStay (concussion) for the semi-final, while Jackson Payne was subbed out of the game in the first half with a cut to the head. So ultimately, Daniher was left as the only tall forward for the Bulldogs to worry about.

The injury to Hipwood was the beginning of Brisbane falling out of the top 4 before they managed to earn the double chance in Round 23. His absence proved how valuable he is to this team.

Their defeat can't be put down just to injury troubles though. Their inability to put defensive time into the Bulldogs midfield gave the Dogs first use of the footy and time to set up defensively and lock out Brisbane's make-shift forward line.

The Bulldogs won the clearances 47-37 and centre clearances 13-10.

The top three disposal winners were all Bulldogs, with Jack Macrae having 39, Marcus Bontempelli 31 and Caleb Daniel 29 off half back.

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David King said the Lions were kidding themselves if they believe the lack of accountability for key stars for the opposition was going to see them prevail in big finals.

“I’m not sure what the planning was, and I keep saying this, if you don’t take something off the opposition, you will get beaten by what you know. That to me is on coaching panels,” King said on Fox Footy's First Crack.

“They allowed Bontempelli and Macrae to run around by themselves, they allowed (Caleb) Daniel to set up behind the ball, and you get what you ask for.

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“In finals footy you can’t let the opposition play anywhere near their best. And I know the inside 50 numbers are heavily slanted towards the Brisbane Lions, but it’s about quality.

“I just think the Brisbane Lions will sit back in the review, whenever they can bare to look at it, and say ‘what did we do about Jackson Macrae and why did our stars give him so much space?’

“I’m staring straight at (Dayne) Zorko, (Lachie) Neale, (Jarryd) Lyons, (Hugh) McCluggage – they’re the culprits. And they deny it, they don’t want to be told the truth, they want to live in a lie. And this is what you get, because the other mob are pretty good.

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“If you want to give them some time, you’ll pay. On the numbers they should be winning tonight, but they’re not because they allow class to be factor.”

Brisbane have been dominant at the GABBA in recent years so ending their season with a loss on their home deck three seasons in a row will carry some mental demons next September.

But their home record in the home and away season is impressive enough for Brisbane fans and the players to have faith they can perform at home in finals.

Their stars aren't close to done yet. Daniher (27), McCluggage (23), Lyons (29), Charlie Cameron (27), Hipwood (23), McStay (26) Bailey (21) are all going nowhere.

Zorko (32) and Daniel Rich (31) are closer to the end than most on the Brisbane list but both are playing great football. Zorko entered the AFL later than most meaning his body hasn't done as many kilometres as 32-year-olds and Rich was All-Australian this year.

And as long as Rich can boot the ball 60-odd metres he is still an incredibly valuable asset.

The old saying goes "you have to lose one to win one". That isn't a science. But these losses aren't the end for Brisbane. They could just be a foot note in a very long story of success.

They will be right to go again and with a touch more injury luck, they could be there when the cup is lifted in 2022.