Lions sink Sharks in new chapter
A new-look Royals side kicked clear after half-time to win the first league match played for premiership points at the new Centennial Stadium, defeating co-tenants Albany by 115 points in the Great Southern Football League season opener on Saturday afternoon.
In front of a healthy crowd, new Sharks captain Rick Wallis won the toss and kicked with a strong breeze, and that decision sparked his side to action early in the first term.
The Sharks, under the eye of new coach Scott Sedgwick, had the first five inside 50s of the game and kicked the first goal of the game through clever forward Jordan Wallam.
The Lions fired back, however, as new recruit Sam Baddeley-Holmes helped himself to two opening-quarter goals, putting his side out by 20 points at the first break.
In the second term, the Sharks again applied terrific pressure in the first few minutes and Wallis gave them a second goal, while in contrast, the Lions clogged their forward line and defender Rhys Jones received a yellow card for undue rough play.
But as Ryan Kinnear and Dave Parker found more of the ball through the midfield, the Lions’ forward line started to get on top and a late flurry of goals had them ahead by 52 points at half-time.
The Sharks had early joy in the third quarter as Wallis snapped his second but it was from one of only three inside-50 entries for the term as the Lions dominated the stoppages, led by Parker, Kinnear, Michael McGlade and Henry Hodge. Centre-half forward Trent Nesbitt booted two more goals and Gray added a third as they started to skip clear.
Both teams tired in the final stanza as the Lions kicked four goals to one on their way to a comfortable win 20.22 (142) to 4.3 (27).
Kinnear and Parker combined for three goals and were prolific throughout the contest, while Nesbitt impressed with a number of strong marks and four goals.
Baddeley-Holmes finished with 3.4 and Gray also looked dangerous with 3.3, while Corey Linthorne provided great run and carry on the wide Centennial Stadium expanses.
The Lions fielded only 12 players from last season’s preliminary final team and coach James McRae said it would take time for his side to learn each other.
“We had a lot of new players and were pretty rusty,” McRae said.
“We were undisciplined at times, clogged our forward line up, but when we freed it up and got space, we scored well.
“It’s only round 1 — we have got to keep building, with all these new blokes learning to play with each other and function properly.”
The Sharks kicked the first goal in three of the four quarters in a positive sign but lost the inside-50 count significantly, 64-20.
Marcus Mellon was terrific at the back, limiting the impact of Baddeley-Holmes ,while Jack Banks toiled hard, Stewart Davies clearly won the hit-outs and Brandon Woods added to his highlight reel with a mark of the year contender.
“It was an encouraging team effort ...
fitness and skills really hurt us but there were good signs and there is a good feeling around the club,” Sedgwick said.
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