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Best: Sturgess, Johns, Totino, MacDonald, Boyd, Kovacevic
Goals: MacDonald 3, Johns 2, Kalanj 2, Hemala, Cooper, Hunt, Posar, Schraven, Madden
The Burgers fought hard but were outplayed by a classy Williamstown side that had all the answers in a MARGIN-point preliminary final win at North Port Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Unable to play their usual style of play against the relentless Seagulls, the Development Lions season came to a disappointing end just one win away from a grand final. Coburg’s strong recent form dropped off as they conceded the opening goal and then trailed from until the final siren.
Williamstown took control from the opening bounce and never looked back, dominating large periods of the game, as nothing seemed to really click for Coburg. The Burgers showed glimpses of a comeback but were quickly shut down by the Seagulls, who held a comfortable 20-point buffer from half time and extended their lead late.
Three goals from Dean MacDonald and another standout performance by Lachie Johns were two highlights on a tough day for the young Lions. Johns led the way with a team-high 29 disposals, nine clearances and two handy goals while Andrew Sturgess (27) and Josh Totino (21, seven clearances) also worked hard.
Richie Bamblett was lively in the first half, Julian Hemala used the ball well to have an impact and Jesse Boyd competed strongly down back.
Williamstown dominated the early chances and was wasteful in front of goal before slotting the opener. Coburg responded well through Jake Kalanj but the Seagulls locked the Lions in their defensive 50 and – had it not been for wayward conversion – would have led by much more. Coburg’s forwards struggled to have an influence and while Kalanj and Madden lead higher up the ground to stay involved, the Burgers couldn’t get the ball past half way for the majority of the term.
Clearances were also hard to come by, with both teams tackling instantly at stoppages in a high-pressure, physical affair.
Ricky Schraven and MacDonald eventually booted opportunistic goals from rare inside 50 entries but a late Williamstown goal crushed the underwhelming Burgers’ momentum.
A terrific contested mark and goal by Joel Madden – soon followed by a similar goal from Liam Hunt – cancelled out the Seagulls’ early goals in the second term. The Burgers looked far more dangerous with leading forwards and good delivery from midfield but overused the ball in key areas, leading to turnovers that were punished hastily by a ruthless Williamstown.
An intelligent Damon Symes tap helped Johns convert an instinctive snap but the Lions headed into the main break down on form, down on confidence and down by 22 points.
MacDonald’s second came via a fantastic running snap from tight in the pocket, but, as they’d done all day, the Seagulls responded. Despite the efforts of a valiant Boyd – who clocked up spoil after spoil – uncontested Williamstown marks in Coburg’s forward 50 undermined the Lions comeback attempts.
A lack of discipline also gifted the Seagulls chances but the Burgers improved their movement and began to go forward more freely and creatively. A brilliant interception by Bamblett in midfield created MacDonald’s third, Daniel Cooper kicked truly from outside 50 and Kalanj popped up with his second right on the three-quarter time siren to keep the Lions hopes alive.
But it wasn’t to be for the Lions with the Seagulls completely dominating the last term. Johns’ second from tight on the boundary was a highlight but countless Williamstown scoring shots – which spawned six goals – were simply too much for Coburg in the end.