Lions roar in final minute thriller

Headshot of Cameron Newbold
Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Three final-quarter goals helped Royals win a thrilling Great Southern Football League colts grand final, beating close rivals Albany by one point at Centennial Stadium on Sunday.

In a low-scoring affair, the Lions came from 11 points down in the last term to claim back-to-back colts premierships after kicking the final two goals of the match through Mitchell Ballard and Rivah Bocian.

Royals colts coach Daniel Bocian and captain Regan Askevold with the premiership shield.
Camera IconRoyals colts coach Daniel Bocian and captain Regan Askevold with the premiership shield. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The Sharks trailed at half-time but responded with the only goal of the third term from key forward Kaine Cristinelli to take a four- point advantage into the final change.

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The Lions hit the front momentarily when Nic Finlay snapped the opening goal of the fourth term but the joy was short-lived as midfielder Zainel Bin Busu snapped soon afterwards at the other end to put the Sharks back in front.

Albany's Tristan Loo and Royals' Nitan Benavides contest possession.
Camera IconAlbany's Tristan Loo and Royals' Nitan Benavides contest possession. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The Sharks continued to lift as they worked the ball forward and kicked another goal, Dylan Gowdie dribbling through his second from the pocket as he was tackled to push the margin to 11 points.

But with agile big man Jaike Dale in the ruck, the Lions were able to respond, firstly through Ballard, who dragged the deficit back to five points, then Bocian.

In the final minute of the last term, the ball spilled from a one-on-one contest between Bocian and Sharks’ Marcus Mellon, and Bocian was able to sprint clear out the back and slam home the winning goal with 47 seconds left.

Royals’ Jaike Dale.
Camera IconRoyals’ Jaike Dale.

The Sharks won the ball at the resulting centre bounce but were beaten by the siren as they went forward again, losing an epic contest 5.3 (33) to 4.8 (32) in the end.

After a dominant display across half-back throughout the decider, quality ball user Zamahl Bin Busu won the Panizza Brothers Medal as the best player on the ground.

The Lions were best served by Robertson around the stoppages, while Bocian, Dale and Keanu Weeden gave them plenty of drive throughout the match.

“It’s just a magic feeling, the boys to come back and it could have gone any way,” Lions coach Daniel Bocian said. “All year we’ve lost one game and to finish on top like that is just so good.

“Sharks have been our main rival so it was fitting to have a thriller. So many guys lifted in that last quarter.”

Zainel Bin Busu was also superb for the Sharks with 21 touches and his inspirational last-quarter goal, while Nic Penny and captain Bryce Blaszkow (18 disposals) were also influential.

Albany's Zaniel Bin Bisu gets a handball away.
Camera IconAlbany's Zaniel Bin Bisu gets a handball away. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Sharks coach Craig Anning was gutted by the result, but praised his gallant side.

“We controlled it all game but it was disappointing to finish in that fashion,” Anning said. “Our back line held up well and the future is very bright with this group.”

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