Coburg wins battle of the Jungle

By Nicholas Galea

The Coburg Lions have secured an 18-point victory, their first in 672 days after defeating the Brisbane Lions; who had 11 AFL listed players name, 9.19 73 to 8.7 55, at the South Pine Sporting Complex in Brendale, in what was the first ever “Lions Derby”.

There were two changes to the Round One line-up for Coburg with ruckman Adam Swierzbiolek (syndesmosis) and key defender Liam Whelan (hip soreness) both ruled out due to injury with new recruits in Kyle Galloway and Nathan Boucher; who both made their club debuts, named in their place.

It was Coburg’s first game for premiership points outside of Victoria since playing Tasmania during the 2008 VFL season.

It was the Brisbane Lions who found themselves on the board early on through Keidean Coleman before Coburg settled and got into action, putting constant pressure on Brisbane’s back six to create several repeat inside 50 entries and locked the ball in the forward half, courtesy of a well set up forward press.

Both sides found goals and the ability to move the ball swiftly hard to come by in what was a breezy and rainy opening term as they alternated control of the ball before crafty small forward Luke Nelson who kicked his maiden goal from the pocket to put the Lions in front.

Coburg continued to look dangerous when going through the corridor but weren’t able to capitalise its 16 inside 50 entries kicking an inaccurate 1.5 11 to trail by two points at quarter time.      

Although sluggish, the weather started to clear up and the ground became a bit drier, allowing both sides to find the going a little easier and play a more open game style with Brisbane being a bit more direct with their ball use when going forward while Coburg started to focus more on retention of the ball.

Coburg’s midfielders started taking advantage of the ruck dominance Kyle Galloway provided, and were able to kick four consecutive goals through Sam Lowson (two goals), Josh D’Intinosante and Aaron Clarke to build a game high 22-point lead, 19 minutes into the term before Brisbane responded through Connor McFadyen to keep them in touch.

Midfielder Marcus Lentini had the ball on a string with 26 touches as did Lochie Dickson 14, while Tom Silvestro and Luke Bunker worked hard defensively off the ball with both laying four tackles for the quarter to help Coburg build a 14-point lead at half time.

The third term, which was filled with many shifts of momentum and was certainly more free flowing then the opening half as it seemed like whichever side went forward looked extremely likely of scoring, with both sides trading goals throughout the quarter.

Brisbane was out of the blocks once again, slotting consecutive goals in no time before Nelson stemmed the tide with his second goal but Brisbane kept coming and brought the margin to four points with another major.

The arm wrestle continued but towards the middle stages of the quarter Coburg started to regain the ascendancy, lifting its pressure to lock the ball in its forward 50 and started to reap the rewards.

A strong mark by Clarke and clinical shot re-established the two-goal buffer before debutant Nathan Boucher; much like Nelson in the first term, slotted his first VFL goal with a classy finish on the run from the pocket extended the margin to 18 points.

Brisbane continued to hold firm down back and were always deadly on the counter attack with their fast ball movement which resulted in McFadyen trimming the margin to just the 11 points heading into the last change.

With both sides desperate for victory the stakes were raised when Brisbane’s Harry Sharp pulled the deficit back to six points at the 4-minute mark.

Chances continued to be created as Coburg peppered the goals at the other end but would only accrue five more behinds, which kept Brisbane in the game.

With the match still up for grabs it was new recruit Charlie Thompson who stood up for Coburg with a long range shot for goal, which extended the lead to 17 points to make it extremely difficult for Brisbane to claw their way back into the contest.

The “Burgers” sensed an opportunity to seal the game and raised their dour defensive efforts across the ground and displayed plenty of intensity at the contest, putting further pressure on Brisbane’s back six who were swamped with inside 50 after inside 50 and were just hanging in the game.    

The margin could have been greater if not for inaccuracy as Coburg grinded out the remainder of the quarter to record an impressive victory.

Speaking post game, Senior Men’s Coach Andrew Sturgess highlighted the playing group’s ability to recognise and acclimatise to the conditions was one of the major reasons for the victory.

‘It was a bit of a slog, when you come up to Queensland you expect sunshine and beautiful conditions but it was not to be,’ Sturgess said.

‘You just have to adapt to the conditions and play a bit of wet weather footy.’

‘I think to sometimes win in those conditions it takes a bit of character, method and talent probably goes a bit out the window and its more about endeavour and grit and our boys certainly showed that.’

We encourage all Coburg Football Club members and supporters to come down to both our games and cheer on the Coburg Lions Men’s Team on Saturday May 8th at 12:05pm against Collingwood at Victoria Park and the Coburg Lions Women’s team who also play earlier that day at 10:00am against Seaford at Belvedere Reserve.

Brisbane:           2-1 13    3-4 22       7-5 47      8.7 55

Coburg:             1-5 11     5-6 36      8-10 58      9-19 73

Goals: Lowson, Clarke, Nelson 2, D’Intinosante, Boucher and Thompson