Lions’ year summed up by finals exit
Royals coach James McRae believes too much complacency following his side’s narrow grand final loss last season contributed to their rare first semifinal exit at the hands of Mt Barker.
The Lions’ up-and-down season ended on Sunday, unable to go with the Bulls in the final term as they went down by 38 points and failed to stop a terrific seven-goal haul by livewire Dionne Woods.
In his fourth season at the helm, McRae conceded post-match that his side was not fit enough and lacked the consistency required to keep their season alive.
“They play great team footy and kept putting it to the dangerous spots,” McRae said.
“They were putting our backs under enormous pressure and they kicked goals.
“We just couldn’t go with them for four quarters.
“We weren’t fit enough.
“We lost by three points last year in a grand final and the boys thought it was just going to happen.
“Today sums up our season.
“We were good in patches but can’t play four quarters of footy and it’s no secret in country footy that you’ve got to be fit to win a flag.”
The Lions’ season has been riddled by injuries and player availability and they were forced to bring in athletic big man Sam Baddeley-Holmes for the injured Cameron Smith (ribs), again unable to take an unchanged line-up in from the previous week.
Not once this season did they have the same 22 in consecutive weeks.
The loss of Trent Nesbitt to a hamstring injury in the second term forced a shuffle of defenders as Ryan Flick went to his opponent Kym Monteath, who finished with 21 touches and four goals.
At the other end, Baddeley-Holmes was a constant threat in attack but was moved into the ruck in the second half and Corey Ward was dangerous up forward when isolated deep, kicking three goals.
Veteran Ryan Kinnear bobbed up with three majors, while Michael McGlade and Poch Amores were solid contributors along with ruckman Nathan Powell.
“The guys know (where the season fell down),” McRae said.
“We have the bones of a really good side but we’ve been trying to manufacture wins this season and have always been plugging holes.”
McRae is expected to announce a decision on his coaching future in the coming weeks.
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