Fast-start Lions pinch colts decider
Royals have stunned rivals Railways, claiming a third colts grand final in four years after a brilliant first quarter and desperate defending late in the game secured an epic four-point win on Sunday.
The Tigers started as hot favourites, having won their last 13 games, as they looked to break a 27-year premiership drought but they were undone by a physical and inspired Lions outfit in the first 20 minutes which set up their premiership upset.
Dane Paunich kicked the opening goal of the game and his side had five different goal kickers in the first as they took a 24-point advantage into quarter time.
The two sides traded goals in the second and third quarters and the Lions turned for home still ahead by 24 points as the Tigers kicked to the end favoured by the breeze in the final term.
Jamon Barrett kicked his third goal to start the final stanza, followed by a running goal from Jaxon McLean and then another Barrett major as the margin was quickly cut to four points.
Paunich however stood up when it mattered most, his long-range set shot pushing it back to 11 points.
The Tigers kept coming though, as Benji Shearer goaled from a free kick in the dying minutes before Xavier Brenton-Reed scrambled a shot on goal in the last 10 seconds but it missed to the right as the Lions won a thriller 11.6 (72) to 10.8 (68).
Paunich was clutch in key moments, his three goals and strong marking around the ground netting him the Panizza Brothers Medal as best-afield.
Ronan Nuggett (three goals) and Rahiem Nuggett (two) were pivotal in the front half while the move to play silky ball user Tyreice Brown across half back was also instrumental for the Lions.
Jared Hayes, Daniel Archbold-Mortensen and Sam Freeman also played well for the winners.
“We were heavy underdogs but I felt it on Friday night, that the boys were up for it,” Lions coach Adrian Paunich said.
“We talked about how important that beginning was and Jimmy Duncan’s three on one late in the game was huge.
“Our midfield is a young midfield and overall it was a team effort, I’m really proud of them.”
The Tigers were best served by Barrett, who booted four goals in a terrific display, while Coen Jackman and Flynn Wauters were strong contributors.
“We gave them a five goal head start, we weren’t accountable and didn’t really have anyone that played well for four quarters,” Tigers coach Wayne Stubber said.
“It was just too hard to pull back and we got hurt for depth in our rotations, losing Harry Hordacre was massive.”
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