Lions snag flag with after-siren goal
A goal after the siren to Royals co-captain Seb Stanton sealed a memorable sixteens premiership for the Lions, who engineered one of the most memorable grand final escapes by two points on Sunday.
In the closest grand final in the competition’s history, Albany appeared to have stolen the match from the Lions’ grasp in the dying minutes as they rammed home consecutive goals to gain a four-point lead.
A scrambled goal to Milo Babington and a snap by Levi James-Wallace came against the run of play for the Sharks in the final minute but the close encounter would have time for one last play.
A downfield free kick led to Stanton marking strongly and the siren sounding just seconds after.
From a tight angle, Stanton’s shot sneaked inside the right-hand goalpost sparking wild celebration scenes with the Lions winning by two points, 6.14 (50) to 8.0 (48).
The lead changed hands four times in a thrilling final term which the Lions controlled for the majority through best-on-ground Dane Paunich (four goals) and Tyreice Brown until the Sharks’ late surge.
Inaccuracy threatened to plague the Lions’ premiership hopes as the efficient Sharks booted eight straight for the match with livewire Damien Woods booting four timely goals.
Max Baker produced a wonderful running goal after four bounces to give the Sharks the lead to start the final term before Paunich booted his fourth goal from a set shot to settle his Lions.
The Sharks enjoyed the biggest lead of the match in the first quarter after booting the first two goals but Paunich booted the next two goals of the match and had three majors to half-time as the Lions slipped in front at the major break.
Paunich, Brown, Carson Flower and Cooper Childs were the Lions’ best while Woods along with Flynn Turton, Levi James-Wallace and Hudson O’Dea led the way for the gallant Sharks.
Lions coach Adrian Paunich was full of praise for his side.
“I just said it was going to be a grind and they just ground it out right to the very end,” he said.
“I never thought we had it, I knew that could happen pretty quickly and it was going to take a bit of luck for us to win that, it just goes to show you never give up.”
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