Sunbury Lions turns up heat

Sunbury’s Tom Donoghue claims his mark. Picture Shawn Smits

Sunbury Lions were roaring as they returned to the Ballarat Football League’s winners’ list on Saturday.

After a tough three weeks of losses, this was more of the Lions that we’d seen earlier in the season.

They started well against Ballarat and could have been further ahead early in the game.

Coming out full of fire from the start, the Lions determined to ensure there would be no third- quarter lapse as in the previous fortnight.

They dominated play in the second and third quarters before switching players around and resting some in the final term.

Despite letting through some late goals, Sunbury still won 16.11 (107)-9.4 (64).

Coach Rick Horwood was rapt to return to the winners’ list after the rare three-straight losses.

“It’s been a tough month and it’s pleasing for the players to get some reward for their efforts. It has been a soul-searching week, led by the players and the leaders of the club – which is even more important.

“The coaching staff took a bit of a step back and let the leaders grow.”

Horwood was happy the playing group responded so well.

“The first half was really good and we had intent to win the third quarter, which we did. But it was disappointing we let them kick nine goals in the end.

“We rested ‘Kova’ [David Kovacevic], and ‘Burgo’ [Josh Burgess] in the last quarter, and it unbalanced our structures.”

Horwood said neither had injuries, but he was just being cautious with such a big lead.

Alik Magin racked up another best-on- ground accolade and was well supported by Josh Guthrie, Chris Tsardakis, Greg Hay, Mathew Medcraft and Tom Donoghue.

Jack Landt kicked his fifth bag of four goals; Jesse McInneny booted three but could have had more had he kicked straight.

The Lions face third-placed Redan this week and a win would see them switch positions.

The match takes on extra significance as the club remembers Albert and Maree Rizk, who died two years ago when Malaysian flight MH17 crashed.

Horwood said the match meant a lot for the playing group, of which the Rizk’s son James is a part.

“The boys really want to get the win.”

The Lions played Redan the day after the crash and the two teams played in a memorial match last year to honour the couple.

Lions vice-president Hedley Duhau said it would be a more low-key day this year.

One minute’s silence will be held and a banner will be raised before the match, while photos of the couple and their family and friends will be shown on the scoreboard.

The club will also host a pre-game function, with AFL great Peter Daicos the main guest.

Mr and Mrs Rizk’s son, James, will be at the luncheon, with injury ruling him out from playing for the Lions.

Daughter Vanessa will also be at the game.

Tickets for the lunch are still available at $50 per person. Details: 0421 594 255