Lions charge home in final term to overhaul Magpies

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Royals' Dylan Ford kicks his side forward in the narrow win.
Camera IconRoyals' Dylan Ford kicks his side forward in the narrow win. Credit: Laurie Benson

Royals shot back into the top four after producing a spirited final-term fightback to defeat Denmark-Walpole by two points in an absorbing round 5 Great Southern Football League clash at Centennial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The loser of the match-up would be left with an unwanted 1-4 record to kick off the new season and both sides had their opportunities to win.

But much like they did the previous week, another last-quarter fade-out proved costly for the Magpies.

The Lions made more changes to their league side, with injured pair Ryan Kinnear and Rhys Jones, midfielder Henry Hodge and Cameron Allison all omissions, leaving youngster Cam Smith as acting captain.

Denmark-Walpole's Codey Baxter marks as Royals' Jake Puls applies the pressure.
Camera IconDenmark-Walpole's Codey Baxter marks as Royals' Jake Puls applies the pressure. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The home side started brightly and were ahead by seven points at half-time before the Magpies mustered a big third quarter, where they kicked six goals to pinch a 13-point lead.

It could have been an even bigger lead at three-quarter time if not for a late Joel Flick soccer goal in the dying moments of the third.

Midfield guns Ryan Gaerth and Jaden Guidi were outstanding as they helped the Magpies hit the front and the move to have Henrix Ropiha play as a ruckman and rest forward was also working well.

However, things unravelled again for the Magpies when the game had to be won as the Lions booted the first three goals of the final term through Harry Broomhall, Brandon Woods and then a second for Flick as they surged to the lead.

Royals' Cam Smith kicks ahead of Denmark-Walpole's Jaden Guidi.
Camera IconRoyals' Cam Smith kicks ahead of Denmark-Walpole's Jaden Guidi. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Inside the final four minutes, Tyler Stone reduced the deficit to a single point but the Lions prevailed, 10.9 (69) to 9.13 (67), as they avoided a third straight loss.

Mitch Curnow was the only member of the Lions leadership group playing and they lost key big man Andrew Ruck to a hamstring injury in the first term, giving the win even more merit.

“As much as it’s about winning today, it’s about improving every week,” Lions coach James McRae said.

“It’s hard to keep a young group up for a long time if you don’t win games and that’s why the result is crucial.

“We’ve got to keep in the hunt and give ourselves a chance at the back end.

“We kept ourselves in the game through pure want.”

Corey Ward was highly influential all over the ground and was well supported by Michael McGlade and Cent Amores while Broomhall returned three goals up front.

Royals' Jack Dawson gets his handball clear as he goes to ground under pressure from Denmark-Walpole’s Jaden Guidi.
Camera IconRoyals' Jack Dawson gets his handball clear as he goes to ground under pressure from Denmark-Walpole’s Jaden Guidi. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Gaerth and Guidi were clearly the two most influential players on the ground and the Ropiha brothers were also lively.

Magpies coach Matt Candy lamented a number of players already having played a game on the day and said they simply should have won.

The absence of Luke Marley, Brody Hickey and Hayden Collard was felt, while prized recruit Clancee Pearce was still missing with a heel injury.

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