Brisbane youngster Cam Rayner faces the prospect of a delayed start to his finals campaign after orchestrating a tackle that left Melbourne forward Ben Brown bloodied and bruised during the Demon's 58-point win at the Gabba on Friday night.
The incident took place during the first quarter of what devolved into a spiteful clash filled with ripped guernseys, headlocks and even lines crossed.
Chasing a loose ball away from his attacking 50, Brown - 13 centimetres and 10 kilograms larger than Rayner - was driven face-first into the surface, with Rayner's pinning of Brown's arms preventing the Tasmanian from breaking his fall.
Following a resulting skirmish in which players from each side jostled and traded barbs, Brown trudged from the ground, with blood streaming from his nose and grazes to large portions of his face.
Rayner was also placed immediately on report following the ball-and-all effort.
— AFL (@AFL) August 19, 2022
With the Vulture Street venue doubling as an international cricket arena, the centre wicket is routinely firmer than stadiums such as the MCG given the block remains intact year-round.
Though Rayner will likely face several sleepless nights ahead of Brisbane's first final after the mandatory bye week, the 22-year-old's anxiety will have eased after Brown was able to return to the field and play out the remainder of the one-sided contest without any ill effects.
After returning to form with three majors in Melbourne's slim win over Carlton last Saturday night, the former Kangaroos added further brushstrokes to his purple patch, rounding out his regular season with
Should the prospect of a suspension for Rayner hinge on an outcomes basis, the hybrid threat will likely be available for Brisbane's home elimination final against a still unknown opponent.
However, following Tim Kelly's one-week suspension for a similar tackle on Adelaide youngster Sam Berry. The 28-year-old's effort was graded as careless, medium impact and high contact by the MRO earlier this month.
Given Brisbane's recent woes when it comes to winning in September, a single-week suspension may prove fatal for Rayner's season after the Lions comprehensively blew an opportunity to sew up a double chance on home soil last night.
Despite making the finals in each of the past four seasons, Brisbane's business-end record stands at just 1-5, with Chris Fagan's pride doing little to shrug their unwanted tag after dismally failing yet another litmus test against Melbourne.
The Lions will now need to wait until deep on Sunday afternoon to discern their elimination final opponents.
As it stands, perennial recent premiers Richmond appear their most likely rivals, with the pair's most recent finals meeting coming during the 2020 qualifying final at the Gabba - a clash the home side won by 15 points.