Lions bite back in last term to win first title since 2012

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Royals have triumphed over Albany with a gritty 11-point win in the grand final to claim their first sixteens flag since 2012.

Kicking with a steady breeze in the opening quarter, the Lions were able to gain the ascendancy as Sam Freeman and James Kirby hit the scoreboard.

Albany's Kya Faulkner gets held up.
Camera IconAlbany's Kya Faulkner gets held up. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Sharks registered their first goal halfway through the second quarter after key forward Keiran Gowdie kicked truly, but wayward kicking left them trailing by four points at the main break.

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Kirby bagged two goals in a decisive third quarter as the Lions extended their lead to 12 points at the last change.

The Sharks looked well-placed to mount a final-quarter challenge after Keiran Gowdie goaled inside the first three minutes to trim the margin to six points.

Royals' Harry Crane gathers.
Camera IconRoyals' Harry Crane gathers. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Seb Stanton responded soon afterwards for the Lions though as they hung on to claim the premiership with a 5.5 (35) to 3.6 (24) win.

Royals’ Freeman was awarded the best-on-ground medal after a strong display through the middle of the ground to go with a goal, while Harry Crane also impressed for the winners.

Royals medalist Sam Freeman with Claremont director Darrell Panizza.
Camera IconRoyals medalist Sam Freeman with Claremont director Darrell Panizza. Credit: Albany Advertiser

For the Sharks, Henry Alforque was solid throughout the contest while Marlin Bennett also performed admirably.

Albany's Dylan Phillips breaks clear.
Camera IconAlbany's Dylan Phillips breaks clear. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Lions coach Gary Buitenhuis said he was incredibly proud of his side’s effort.

“They cracked in early and kept the pressure on — the game plan worked very well,” he said.

“Our back six controlled it pretty well all day and played to their positions.

“We didn’t turn the footy over in the middle of the ground, which can hurt you at this level.”

Albany's Keiran Gowdie marks ahead of Royals' Jakeb Finlay.
Camera IconAlbany's Keiran Gowdie marks ahead of Royals' Jakeb Finlay. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Sharks coach Craig Anning said it had been a great season.

“I’m really proud of the boys — from the start of the season to where they finished,” he said.

“We had our opportunities to win but it just wasn’t to be.”

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