Rampant Lions almost play the perfect game

Nathan Bridgland is one of Sunbury's young brigade benefiting from having experienced players around him. Picture Shawn Smits.

It was the perfect game for Sunbury Lions for all but 20 minutes of the Ballarat Football League fixture against Melton South on Saturday.

The Lions started slowly and switched off in the final 10 minutes, but everything else in between went their way.

They controlled the midfield and had plenty of forward options while managing to keep the Panthers to four goals in the first three and half quarters.

The final result was a 23.15 (153)-9.7 (61) win to the Lions.

Coach Rick Horwood said he would take a win of that margin every week.

“Apart from the first and last 10 minutes, it was almost the perfect game for us,” he said. “Melton South are a young side and they tried really hard. There were periods when they looked really good against us and they kicked the last five goals of the game. We just stopped.”

Despite the late fade-out, which removed some of the gloss, Horwood took only positives from the game.

The midfield combination of Alik Magin and Daniel Toman was one of them. It was the first game of the season for Toman, who had been playing in the VFL.

“The class of Toman and Magin was just gold,” Horwood said.

“Those two just stood out and it lifted the young guys around them and brought them into the game,

“Younger guys like Nathan Wood, Nathan Bridgland, Jack Landt and Jesse Flannery are learning from quality players.”

Vice-captain Adam Short played his first senior match of the season, while captain Andrew Duhau returned to the side and kicked three goals in about 60 per cent game time.

Josh Burgess kicked six in the absence of Jack Sheahan, who injured his ankle last week.

Joining Sheahan on the injury list after Saturday are Jesse McInneny, with a broken nose, and Joe Redfern, who hurt his ankle.

Regular players Mathew Medcraft, Ben McInneny and James Rizk are all overseas.

The Lions don’t play this week because of the interleague match against the WRFL, and they enter the week-off sitting at 4-1.

“It’s a good start and I’ll take 4-1 at the break,” the coach said.

Horwood, who is on the interleague coaching panel, said four Lions players would have been named in the final squad, but two of them, the injured McInneny and Redfern, are unlikely to play. Burgess and Grant Valles are the other two expected to make the squad.