Bulls in late charge for top spot
Mt Barker surged into minor premiership contention with a stunning second half turnaround, kicking the final five goals of the game on their way to a 28-point win and top spot in the Great Southern Football League competition.
The Bulls produced a horrible first-half display, trailing by 29 points at quarter time and then managed just two goals with the aid of a strong breeze in the second as the Lions were in total control at half time.
Two goals to young star Joel Gray and one to class midfielder Nic Chidgzey into the breeze in the third term hauled the Bulls back into the contest as they stifled the Lions’ charge, with Sam Lehmann mopping up at half back as they cut the margin to eight points.
Bulls small forward Kym Monteath put them within two points, the closest they had been to the Lions all day, early in the last only for Tyron Smallwood to restore order at the other end.
But the Bulls kept lifting as David Stone gave Chidgzey, Corey Byrne and Peter Taylor first use and their midfield pumped the ball inside 50 at every opportunity.
Two more goals to the visitors had them in front for the first time at the 18-minute mark of the final quarter and they added three more majors on their way to an 11.13 (79) to 7.9 (51) victory.
The Bulls kicked eight of the last 10 goals in the match and had 15 inside-50s to three in the last term as they charged to their 10th win of the season.
Chidgzey was superb in the midfield kicking three goals, Gray’s four-quarter effort was influential and Lehmann was also a strong performer.
“Credit to the Royals, we were outworked in the first half,” Bulls coach Shane Thompson said.
“But after I challenged a few guys at half time, we evened things up in the third to give us a chance and we got a bit of momentum and once we got that is was hard to stop.
“I still believe you’ve got to finish top-two to give yourself the best opportunity to play in a grand final and that result helps us.”
It was a willing and at times spiteful contest between the two sides, but the Lions were down to 19 players by the third term with Joel Flick (ankle), Harry Broomhall (toe) and Tom Baldwin (thumb) all unable to finish the game.
Michael McGlade and Corey Ward battled hard, as did Taylor Powell, who was sensational in the first half, but the Lions couldn’t match the Bulls in the last term.
“We didn’t have the legs to go four quarters,” Lions coach James McRae said.
“We had no run or midfield rotations and the last 10 minutes didn’t count for much.”
Dave Parker and Sam Baddeley-Holmes both did not play, while Smallwood (quad) also laboured during the match.
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