Lions left to lick wounds

Will Healy in action during his side's elimination final loss. Picture Shawn Smits

When it comes to finals, you have to play your best … that’s the lesson Sunbury Lions will have to swallow after their loss in the first week of Ballarat Football League finals.

Going in as underdogs against Darley, the Lions were no match for the Devils, losing 12.12 (84) – 2.10 (22).

Coach Rick Horwood could only bemoan his side’s poor disposal and not making the most of their control around the stoppages.

“We had our chances, but our ball skills and ball retention were horrible,” Horwood said.

“Kova [David Kovasevic] gave us first use of the ball and we won the clearances and stoppages.

“But our disposal was putrid and we played into their hands.

“We had a record number of turnovers by foot. We were beaten by a better side.”

Horwood said it was a case of boys versus men for much of the game.

“We had seven guys playing in their first senior final.

“Jake Edwards played at centre half-back for them and kept cutting us off going into the forward line. I kept saying not to kick to him, but they did.”

The withdrawal of key forward Jack Sheahan before the game didn’t help the Lions’ cause,

“He had a leg injury, which he didn’t come up from. It makes things different; it changes our structure and thinking but also shows what Darley could do,” Horwood said.

“After an interrupted preseason and injuries through the year, it’s been a bit of a wasted year for him.”

Kovasevic was clearly the best player for the Lions, with Adam Short and Matthew Medcraft battling hard. Tanner Bell, in his first senior final, was among the better players.

Jack Landt and Medcraft were the two goal scorers.

Despite their first-round exit, Horwood said there was a lot for the Lions to take out of the season.

The Lions also exited the finals in the first round last year, winning the same number of games in the past two years.

“This was a massive development year, with seven guys playing in their first final on top of the guys who did last year,” Horwood said.

“We have to learn from this. Our seconds had a good win and under-18s also made finals.

“The future looks bright and the club is in good stead.”