Lions break hoodoo

Harry Power (Jacob Pattison)334037_12

Tara Murray

City Oval hasn’t been a pleasant place for the Sunbury Lions in recent years, but that changed on Saturday in the opening round of the Ballarat Football League.

Facing Redan to start the season, Sunbury entered the match having not beaten Redan at City Oval since 2016.

Sunbury managed to lead at each of the first two breaks and extend the margin to 25 points heading into the final break.

Redan kicked a couple of goals early in the last quarter, but Sunbury was able to steady to win the battle of the Lions, 15.9 (99)-11.8 (74).

For Sunbury coach Matt White it was the ideal way to start his coaching career at Sunbury.

“Someone told me it had been eight years since we won up there, so it makes it a really good start,” he said.

“We were under pressure for long periods of time. They are a young team and they put us under a lot of pressure which was fantastic to watch, but annoying as a coach.

“There was a bit of argy-bargy in the third and my boys settled first which was fantastic.”

White said when Redan came late it was the maturity within his side that shone through.

He said the core group was getting to the right age that they know what needs to be done on the field and are just able to get on with the job when needed.

“There is a bit more maturity across the board,” he said. “They gave us a score in the last quarter and kicked a couple of goals.

“We got one back and then got the game back on our terms.”

Jake Sutton kicked five goals for Sunbury, while Patrick Scanlon chipped in with three goals.

For Scanlon it’s been a change of position this season.

“It was a stroke of genius from one of our assistant coaches, Corey Mobilio,” White said.

“We moved him forward through the pre-season and it’s a little feather in the cap now. At the moment he’ll be a forward now.

“If need be or we have an injury down back we can flip him down back.”

White said Nathan Wood was best on ground for his performance down back, while Cody Bramble stood out on a wing and Josh Guthrie played his role in the middle like he always does.

White said there was plenty of pressure on for spots early in the season which was a good thing.

Brock Landt is still to come into the side, while four or five guys are pushing from the reserves side for spots in the senior side.

The Lions though are set to be without Joel Muir for the year due to a shoulder injury.

The Lions will be at home for the first time this season on Saturday night, facing Melton South.

The Panthers are coached by former Sunbury coach Travis Hodgson.

For White, who played junior football at the Lions, it will be his first game back at Clarke Oval in 20 years.

“Hopefully we can get a big crowd and put in a good performance.”