Lions roar back for tense derby win
Royals flexed their muscle when it mattered most, with a five-goal final term lifting the ladder leaders to a hard-fought 30-point win over Albany in Friday night’s Centennial Stadium derby.
With the game on the line in the fourth the Lions’ best players stood tall as Dave Parker and Jordan Heil controlled the midfield, Brayden Parker rebounded strongly from half-back and the move to switch Hamish McMorran into attack was central to the Lions coming from behind to outlast the Sharks.
The Sharks held a seven-point advantage at three-quarter-time on the back of a five-goal third term but McMorran was swung forward in a masterstroke as he provided the spark his side needed inside attacking 50.
McMorran kicked two crumbing snaps to start the fourth term as the Lions snatched back the lead and he added a third to push the margin beyond three goals as his side went on to claim a tense 12.13 (85) to 8.7 (55) win.
He finished the quarter with 3.2 and was a major reason his side got home along with the work of midfielder Dave Parker, who won the match ball as part of Talk To A Mate Round, and experienced customer Heil. Joel Flick and Tyrese Pickett-Miller were busy for the Lions and youngster Tyreice Brown and leading goal kicker Jaiden Alison both had two majors apiece by half-time.
Lions coach Andrew Ruck was simply relieved post-match.
“We didn’t know what to expect with the Sharks,” Ruck said.
“After the break we get a few back so we knew if we got through tonight it puts us in a good spot.
“Our boys didn’t give them respect for a bit there but we know we’ve got a few gears if we get tested.”
The Lions’ domination of the final term was evident with 17 inside 50s to five and they had 14 scoring shots to two as a result.
Coen Marwick, Robbie Lee (two goals) and Taj Williams (three) were busy throughout, defender Dylan Gowdie was superb on the last line and Anthony Coyne on his return to the Sharks after five games with North Albany was lively. It was an encouraging performance from the Sharks given their results in the past month, according to coach Kim Mayfield.
“Our first three quarters were really good, our pressure around the ball especially,” Mayfield said.
“We got stuck in our defensive 50 in the last but if we bring that intensity every week we can challenge anyone.
“The issue for us is our best and worst is still a long way apart.”
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