Royals move a step closer to flag
Royals are a step closer to ending an eight-year premiership drought, as they became the first team through to this year’s grand final with a comfortable 34-point win over Railways in Saturday’s second semifinal at Centennial Stadium.
The Lions, who will host this year’s decider, progressed to their second grand final appearance in three seasons with a 13th straight win that was set up by seven-goal opening half.
The Tigers trailed by 26 points at half-time and were never able to bridge that gap, as the Lions prevailed 12.9 (81) to 7.5 (47).
In a dramatic third quarter, the Tigers kicked the last two goals through Craig Frost and Logan Stubber via a 100m penalty to pull the deficit back to 27 points.
There visitors needed quick goals in the last and Logan Stubber slotted his second major one minute in to make it 21 points, giving his side some hope but steading majors from Jordan Heil and then Hamish McMorran ensured the Lions momentum rolls on.
Jayson Ford was crunched in a heavy Bodhi Stubber tackle in the third quarter, helped from the ground with a suspected broken nose and played no further part in the game.
Key forward Taylor Powell was a constant headache for the Tigers, hitting the post twice in the first quarter before he beat a couple of opponents to finish with a game-high four goals.
Ford booted three majors in the opening half and Coel Hunter also bobbed up with two goals. Damaging ball user Heil was highly influential in the victory and was well supported by young wingman Poch Amores, Michael McGlade, McMorran and Tyrese Pickett-Miller.
Lions coach Andrew Ruck said going straight through to the grand final and earning a week off was always important.
“We missed a bit of luck early but I thought we limited most of their stuff behind the ball,” Ruck said.
“We had a real even spread again today.
“Home-ground grand final is important, we are going really well and that takes the pressure off a bit (winning today).
“The next three teams we could play anyone in a couple of weeks.”
There was plenty of feeling in the contest, the two sides having to be separated at half time after Zak Hortin gave away a 50m penalty.
The Tigers were well served by Frost, who started back and then was thrown into the midfield, while captain Bodhi Stubber cut off plenty of supply at half-back and ruckman Shane Braimbridge was manful throughout the defeat.
A disappointed Tigers coach Troy Leo said his side were beaten in key areas again by the Lions.
“We were outplayed from quarter time onwards and soundly beaten really,” he said.
“Our turnovers and decision making wasn’t good enough, they beat us around the stoppages and fell down at half forward.
“I thought we did well not to be beaten by more so we refocus quickly and try and bounce back.”
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