Lions’ plan pays big dividend

Sunbury Lions' Jesse McInneny and Darley’s Scott McAllester goes up for the ruck. (Damian Visentini)

Sunbury Lions put a plan in place on Saturday to try to defeat reigning Ballarat Football League premiers Darley, and they executed it perfectly.

The Lions have traditionally struggled at Darley Park and last year were smashed off the park both times the teams played there.

This time it was a different story as the Lions kicked the last five goals to beat the Devils, 17.17 (119)-14.14 (98).

Lions coach Rick Horwood said the first part of the plan was to ensure the Devils didn’t get off to a fast start.

“Last year they jumped us both times,” he said.

“The plan was to ensure they didn’t jump us in that first quarter. They led six goals to five at quarter-time, and they had the breeze.

“The boys did the job yesterday.”

The Lions did their best defensive work in the third quarter when the Devils had the chance to blow the game open while kicking with the wind.

“I thought our third quarter was outstanding to have us just a goal down going into the last,” Horwood said. “We worked extremely hard in that quarter to set it up.”

The Devils kicked the first goal of the last term to open up a 12-point lead, the biggest of the game to that point.

The Lions then found another gear. “We had a slight breeze worth one or two goals and were confident going forward,” Horwood said. “We moved [Grant] Valles forward in the last quarter and he kicked three goals.”

Valles finished the game with four goals, along with Jack Landt, who’s enjoying more time in the midfield. And it’s there that Alik Magin continued his good start to the season with a best-on-ground performance.

Jesse McInneny stood up in the ruck in the absence of David Kovacevic, while Ben McInneny held Devils star forward Dane Grenfell goalless.

Horwood said the biggest difference from the first two matches to yesterday was a more even spread.

“We had 22 contributors yesterday,” he added. “We’ve been building and it takes time with new players for it to start to work. We had four come into the team and all performed their role.

“There’s a lot of competition for spots. You have to contribute and be switched on as there’s pressure from below.”

Horwood said Kovacevic and Jesse Flannery, injured in the round two win over Melton, would be fit to play this week against Ballarat.