Lions flex their muscle to down Tigers
Royals have asserted themselves as the best team after eight rounds of the regular season, disposing of Railways by 35 points in the top-of-the-table clash at Centennial Stadium on Saturday.
The Lions stretched their winning streak to five games as they produced a nine-goal first half to stun the Tigers and ran out winners, 12.13 (85) to 7.8 (50).
The visitors banked three of the first five goals, including two from 150-gamer Zak Hortin, before the Lions took control of the contest.
They led by 11 points at half time after kicking the last three goals of the first term and then the Lions kicked the only four goals of the second quarter to surge 38 points clear at the long break with the returning Declan McNamara contributing three.
Despite winning the third quarter the Tigers were unable to reel in the slick Lions outfit as they moved one game and percentage clear on top of the table.
Brayden Parker was involved in everything for the victors, hurting the Tigers with his disposal by foot while Stephen Beal was highly influential with three goals and a strong presence in the ruck.
McNamara finished with three majors while Jordan Heil, Corey Ward and Tyrese Pickett-Miller were also strong contributors. “Their run out of defence early was a bit of a concern,” Lions coach Andrew Ruck said.
“But we started to link up well, we were winning clearances and our third quarter was much better.
“We know that at our top if we bring that intensity we can test anyone and if we can win one or two more in the next fortnight we put ourselves in a good spot.”
The Tigers had won six games on the trot but were outworked in the midfield and struggled forward of centre after Hamish McMorran completely shut Kenton Gibbs out of the game.
Captain Bodhi Stubber was superb across half-back, his intercept marking a highlight, while Craig Frost and Ethan Knee were also resolute in defence. Hortin kicked two goals in his 150th league appearance and Jack Steel was the Tigers other multiple goal kicker.
Tigers coach Troy Leo said a loss would serve his side well at this stage of the season.
“Royals were really good, especially early,” Leo said.
“It’s a good reminder for our boys that you don’t have to be too off and teams can get hold of you.
“They were a step above us in that first half but I thought our backline held up well under a fair bit of pressure.”
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