Mud can’t spoil pristine record

The Sunbury Lions women’s football side grand final win in the Victorian Women’s Football League has capped off an undefeated season.

The Lions have been the team to beat all year in west division with no side coming within 20 points of them until Sunday.

A wet and muddy Coburg City Oval looked as though it could be a barrier to the Lions nailing the premiership.

But they were more than up to the task, easing home against Melton Centrals 3.9 (27)-
1.2 (8).

After scores were level at quarter-time, the Lions peppered the goals in the second quarter with little success, kicking 1.5.

After half-time, the Lions kicked the only two goals of the half, not giving Centrals any chance to add to their tally.

Lions player-coach Kerry Saunders said the side took a while to adjust to the conditions at Coburg.

“They didn’t do us any favours,” she said. “We’re a quick team that likes to get the ball out of the packs and run.

“The conditions meant it was contested … which favoured them.

“We had to keep pushing the ball out of the ruck to the younger players and just keep getting them to run.”

Saunders said that as with their first final, also against Centrals, the Lions started
slowly and were a little unsettled in the first half.

“Whether it was nerves or we were just starting slow, I’m not sure,” Saunders said.

The need for an experienced head saw Saunders put herself on to the ground.

“I wanted the young girls to play first,” she said. “At 1.7 we needed a calming influence … it was more about talking to them and making sure they were in the right places.”

Simone Craige was adjudged best on ground.

Lions captain Natasha Hardy kicked two goals, while Stacey Smith kicked the other.

Saunders said Hardy had been ultra-keen to return from a broken arm.

“The minute she had her plaster off she was going to play,” she said.

“She wanted to play in the middle, but I said ‘no’, resisted the urge and left her up forward.

“Looking after her hand and arm was much more important.”

The premiership success is a long way from where the side was at the start of the year, when it looked like folding.

Saunders said Sunbury Lions acting president Hedley Duhau had commented at Sunday’s game that there had been only seven to eight players at this year’s jumper presentation.

“The room was full today,” she said.