Royals pip Kangas in breakthrough win at Collingwood Park
Royals have snapped a five-year hoodoo at Collingwood Park as they moved to top spot on the Great Southern Football League ladder following their tense two-point win over North Albany on Sunday.
Three teams sit level on 16 points with a 4-1 record after five rounds but it was the Lions who knocked the Kangas from top spot after overcoming injuries and a late challenge from the home side to win their first game at the venue opposed to the Kangas since 2014.
The Kangas hold a commanding recent record against the Lions, winning 16 of the past 19 encounters before Sunday and despite the home side kicking three final-quarter goals, they fell short in a desperate final few minutes to suffer their first defeat of the season.
The Lions led convincingly at quarter-time but that margin was reduced to eight points by half-time as the Kangas fought back strongly following a blast from Kangas coach Craig Dew at the first break.
The third term was an even affair, as both sides kicked two goals and the Lions left to rue hitting the post twice as they held a six-point advantage at the last change.
Impressive youngster Rhori Williams-Jolley booted the first major of the last stanza to give the Kangas the lead by a single point, the first time his side had hit the front.
The Lions responded with the next two majors, goal sneak Jayson Ford snaring his third and then hard-working ruckman Nathan Powell kicking truly.
Having already lost Michael McGlade (hamstring), the Lions were falling down quickly as Brayden Parker came from the field with a bad cork and then Ryan Flick hobbled off with an ankle injury to compound their woes.
The Kangas kept coming — Jyrin Woods with a lovely finish on the boundary to pull it back to a straight kick.
A point pushed the buffer back to seven but a free to Alex Pearce from close range and then a resulting 50m penalty from Trent Nesbitt, slamming the ball on the ground, handed the Kangas teenager a gifted goal as the margin closed to one point.
Lions forward Jaiden Alison hit the post to make it two points and his side prevailed under difficult circumstances in the dying stages, 10.13 (73) to 11.5 (71).
The result ended an 11-game losing streak for the Lions against their opponents at Collingwood Park, and coach Andrew Ruck said his side had showed plenty of heart late in the piece to get the win.
“We are rapt to get over the line,” Ruck said. “Especially the poise of the last three minutes.
“We showed a lot of heart with a few down late.
“We dominated the first half with inside 50s and clearances but they made the most of their opportunities forward and that’s why they are such a good side, so efficient.”
Yet again, Corey Ward was highly influential for the Lions, tall target Hamish McMorran presented strongly all afternoon and the work of midfielder Dave Parker and youngster Tyreice Brown was also impressive.
Ford finished with three goals and ruckman Nathan Powell was terrific as well, helping them win plenty of clearances and going forward to snare two majors.
Dew said his side were unable to count the Lions in the midfield in the first half.
“I’m not that disappointed, they are a good team,” he said.
“We came out flat and got killed at stoppages, and their quick players caused us some grief.”
Talon Delacey was a clear winner for the Kangas and booted two goals along with fellow teenagers Alex Pearce and Rhori Williams-Jolley, while defender Regan Lloyd and Nathan Crudeli were solid.
Michael Trevenen was quiet until moved into the middle in the second half, helping them get back into the contest in Jacob Hobbs’ 100th league game.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails