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Best: Fox, Goodwin, Clifton, Linton, McConnell, Johns
Goals: Hill 3, Johns 2, O'Kearney, Williams, Venditti, Younan, Fox, Thomas
After trailing for the majority of the game, an inspired Coburg side fought back and hit the front in the dying moments to win by eight points at Frankston Oval on Sunday afternoon.
A huge Dion Hill contested mark and priceless Lachie Johns behind completed a miraculous comeback and handed the Lions their third consecutive win. The underwhelming Burgers gradually clawed their way back against a resilient Frankston side but possessed the superior firepower to secure the win when the game was in the balance.
Another standout individual performance by Daniel Venditti helped drag Coburg across the line. The experienced campaigner finished with 33 disposals (22 contested), 10 tackles and eight clearances. Ruckman Tom Goodwin had a steady influence and was a key figure at last quarter stoppages with 49 hit outs.
Hill finished with three goals but, had it not been for wasteful conversion, the strong-marking forward could’ve finished with a handful.
Dion Hill takes a fantastic mark in the final quarter and converts to tie the game with two minutes to play!
Michael Hartley again proved himself as one of the VFL’s premier backman with a terrific defensive performance highlighted by big spoils – 12 for the game – and crucial one-on-one wins. He was well assisted by the rebounding Robbie Fox, who was solid down back but also provided important drive going forward. His textbook defensive smother in the final stages of the game was just as important as the efforts of Coburg’s forwards at the other end.
It ended well but it didn’t start promisingly for the Burgers. Coburg was blown out of the water in the first term by a frenetic Frankston side, which hunted the Lions and pressured them into simple mistakes and turnovers. The visitors struggled to get forward and when they did, were hurt by poor inside 50 entries. Many Lions were often second to the ball but Hartley held his own in defence in a tough opening term.
Fox got Coburg on the board in the second with a terrific finish on the run but another turnover allowed the Dolphins to respond immediately. Errol McConnell fought hard but the Lions’ ball use wasn’t at their normal high standard. An opportunistic goal by Lachie Johns and two majors to Dion Hill helped Coburg work their way back into the game and begin to wrestle back control.
Usual ball-winners Cale Morton (27 possessions) and Ozzie Uysal (25) worked hard all day.
The third term began with scrappy football from both sides. Coburg increased the speed of their ball movement but still lacked quality in the final delivery inside 50. A well-taken snap by Jordy Williams against his old side and a mongrel punt from Nathan Thomas reduced the Dolphins’ lead before Venditti showed his class with an effortless bender from the boundary to level the scores as the Frankston defence was put under siege by Coburg’s relentless entries.
Things looked ominous in the last term as the Dolphins scored quickly before Johns and Calder Cannons-listed rising star Nick O’Kearney responded for the Lions.
The Dolphins refused to roll over and struck on the counter before Danny Younan won a free kick and sealed the victory after the siren.