BY JACK KOVACIC
Coburg has defeated Frankston in its final practice game before the 2019 season kicks off next Saturday.
The Lions trailed for a large part of the game but were able to get on top late in a game that was played in tough conditions.
Despite kicking against the breeze in the first quarter, Coburg controlled majority of the play.
Jack Murphy and Josh Weightman found plenty of the footy early while Sam Lowson was creative across half forward.
Coburg had a few early chances to get on the scoreboard but was wasteful with its goalkicking. Frankston were quite the opposite, taking advantage of its limited inside fifties to take a two-goal lead into quarter time. The Lions maintained ascendency of the game in the second quarter and were able to finally put it on the scoreboard.
Sam Lowson won a free kick in the forward pocket and made no mistake from the set shot, snapping truly to kick Coburg’s first of the game.
Aidan Tilley took a few saving marks in which ensured Frankston would remain scoreless for the quarter.
Co-captain Peter McEvoy received a free kick late in the first half directly in front of goal and gave Coburg its first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
With just four goals kicked in the first half and Coburg holding a slight four-point lead at the long break, play finally started to open up in the third quarter. Coburg’s pressure which had been so high early, dropped off allowing Frankston to move the ball with some freedom for the first time in the match.
The Dolphins were able to capitalize on this which resulted in a four goal to two quarter for the visitors. Lowson continued his good work, creating a contest and applying plenty of pressure in the forward line.
He and Luke Bunker both laid big tackles inside 50 in the space of two minutes to lift the team. It was just an 11-point margin at three quarter time and with the breeze at Coburg’s backs, there was still a big chance of a comeback.
Billy Cannolo goaled within 25 seconds to get the final term off to a perfect start before Frankston were able to answer back and take back the momentum.
While forward 50 opportunities were scare for most of the last quarter, Coburg’s defenders had a field day intercepting Frankston’s forward fifty entries time and time again.
Coburg then started to lift with its ball movement much cleaner than it had been earlier in the quarter. This led to a Steve Stroobants mark and long goal from a set shot to bring the margin back under a goal.
Mitch Podhajski then goaled on the run moments later, which gave Coburg a three-point lead with under five minutes to play, a lead which the Lions were able to hold onto until the final siren.
Speaking post-game, defensive coach Ben Osborne was impressed with the quality of ball movement, especially under such tough conditions.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on that (ball movement), trying to spread the ground as much as we can,” he said, “Then being able to take the easy option and move the ball through the middle if we can, but if not, switching the ball to make the opposition defend as hard as we can instead of just kicking down the line.”
While Osborne was happy with the win, he believes there is plenty of room for improvement.
“Getting our structures downpat constantly is something we need to continue to work on,” he said, “Just consistently, over and over again, instead of picking and choosing when we want to do it.”
“We need to be really clear on each-others role and knowing the set-ups and making sure that happens over and over like in the second quarter when it happened for a good chunk of the quarter and we scored 2.4 to 0.”
Vice-captain Sam Lowson was one of Coburg’s best and he was pleased with his teams’ final hit out for the pre-season.
“Early on we were really on top of them, we came out with really good pressure and intensity around the ball and we were getting it forward,” he said, “In the third quarter we started to worry more about getting the ball and worrying about ourselves but in the fourth quarter it was good to see all the boys start working for each-other again and really want to do things for the team.”
It’s a new look forward group for the Lions’ in 2019, and Lowson is excited by what is to come for the group this season.
“With the newer group it’s taken us a bit of time but we have started to realise where to run and what position to get in to be useful,” he said, “And also working for eachother to get the open ball so its starting to get better and looking good.”
Goals: Lowson, McEvoy, Bunker, Weightman, Stroobants, Podhajski, Cannolo