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Best: Robinson, Johns, Symes, Cooper, Posar, Sturgess
Goals: Cooper 4, Miles 2, Robinson 2, Hemala, Johns, Kalanj, Clarke, Totino, Hunt, Symes, Sturgess
The Lions used a strong breeze better than Casey and, despite not playing their best football, were able to run out comfortable 43–point winners in the Development League elimination final at North Port Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Coburg broke the game open with a six-goal-to-one second term and restricted the wind-assisted Scorpions in the third to set up a preliminary final clash against Williamstown at the same ground next Saturday.
The Lions, who took over ten minutes to find their feet, never seemed to get out of second-gear but still controlled the vast majority of the game.
Daniel Cooper booted four goals – three of which came in a destructive 15-minute burst in the opening quarter. The versatile midfielder showed his versatile goal kicking kept the underwhelming Burgers in the game early and could’ve finished with a bigger haul if not for inaccurate conversion. Lachie Johns again showed his class and continued his strong form with a team-high 29 possessions (17 contested) and a goal.
Josh Totino was bullish in an around contests and finished with 26 disposals. Andrew Sturgess and Keenan Posar were also lively, while small forward Julian Hemala contributed two handy majors.
Casey got the opener as the early minutes were overshadowed by terrible foot skills and simple turnovers by both sides, caused by the difficult, blustery conditions. After conceding, however, Coburg began to look increasingly threatening and created more chances than the Scorpions. Cooper got the Lions on the scoreboard and then took the quarter by the scruff of the neck – booting all three Coburg goals in an emphatic goal-kicking display. His efforts, as well as the Burgers’ willingness to take the game on, play on quickly and run hard ensured scores remained tight at the first break.
Coburg continued to reap the rewards of hard running in the second quarter, as they went forward relentlessly and took their chances to build a healthy buffer. The Lions occasionally turned the ball over when rebounding from defence but never allowed Casey to mount a serious challenge. Damon Symes chased down a Scorpions’ runner to kick a team-lifting goal before Cooper added his fourth after receiving an outstanding instinctive tap from Jake Kalanj.
Jesse Boyd impressed with a comprehensive defensive performance. He worked tirelessly to ensure he rarely missed an aerial contest and spoiled well time and time again.
Casey came out looking to make a statement in the second half and instantly applied scoreboard pressure with two quick goals. A classy snap by Totino stemmed the flow and, even though the Scorpions booted two more and gathered momentum, a very late Posar goal proved to be an important steadier.
Liam Hunt came alive in the second half to collect 25 possessions and booted a late goal.
The Lions utilised the breeze to kick away in the last and win comfortably. Tom Miles added two majors while Kalanj flew high to claim a big contested mark in what was the highlight of the closing minutes.