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Best: McConnell, Williams, Venditti, Clifton, Linton, Fox
Goals: Cauchi, Cooper, Robortella, Younan, Fox, Morton, Sturgess, Symes
After a big opening term built a strong lead, the Lions surrended their advantage late in the last term and eventually went down by 15 points in torrential rain at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Daniel Venditti again topped Coburg’s disposal count – this time with 27 (19 contested) in very difficult conditions. Errol McConnell also worked hard inside to finish with 20 while Jordy Williams – who was given the role of tagging ex-Saint Clinton Jones – had 16 touches.
A blistering opening term by the Lions – who handled the conditions better – saw them kick six goals while keeping the Zebras scoreless. Coburg’s didn’t create a huge number of chances but took them well, helped by impressive pressure and defensive transitions.
Damon Symes got the Lions on to the front foot before a silky sidestep and handball by Josh Iacobaccio set up Nick Robortella on the run. Cale Morton chimed in with a mid-air volley before Daniel Cooper goaled with a kick off the ground moments before the quarter-time siren.
Danny Younan continued Coburg’s run, slotting a set shot after being caught high. Sandringham then lifted and applied more effective pressure. The Zebras also created more chances – and locked the ball inside 50 – which saw them kick three goals to reduce the Lion’s advantage.
Coburg did manage to create a handful of opportunities up forward but Sandringham’s zone restricted the Lions in transition. The Burgers were able to win the ball down back but struggled to clear past the 50-metre arc and wing.
Sandringham got the first of the third term and threatened to score more if not for Coburg’s desperate defending. The Lions played safe in an attempt to protect their lead and were reluctant to take risks – always opting to kick to the boundary. When the Burgers did go through the corridor with conviction, it created a crucial goal for Josh Cauchi. However the Zebras responded soon after and reduced the Lions’ lead to just 17 points at the final change.
Apart from the first five minutes, the entirety of the last term was played in Sandringham’s half – particularly inside their forward 50. The Lions flooded back and the lack of space hurt the Zebras attempts to create chances but a long range effort eventually broke through.
Michael Hartley spoiled well and collected 23 disposals while Robbie Fox also had 14 and fought hard in defence.
Coburg struggled with the quality of their kick-ins and were punished for turnovers. The Zebras handled the ball better late to run away with the win.