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Best: Venditti, Orr, McConnell, Younan, Hartley, Fox
Goals: Younan 3, Carnell 2, Cauchi 2, Fox, Venditti, Hill
Despite holding a 21-point lead at half-time, the Lions were forced to hold off a late Northern Blues charge to notch a crucial two-point win at Piranha Park on Monday afternoon.
In a final term dominated by momentum swings, Coburg pressed hard and creating plenty of goal scoring opportunities but couldn’t break through. The Blues scored against the run of play and the Lions were soon on the back foot and forced to defend until a moment of counter-attackking brilliance by Josh Cauchi put the home side in front. Robbie Fox booted another immediately and the Lions held on desperately for a memorable and much-needed win.
Daniel Venditti lead the way inside for the Lions to finish with 21 disposals (14 contested), five clearances and eight tackles. Cale Morton (20 possessions) again found plenty of the ball to join Venditti and Nathan Thomas at the top of the club’s possession count.
Danny Younan kicked three important goals while Michael Hartley kept AFL-listed forward Liam Jones goaless and also managed to provide drive from the back half with 13 rebound 50s.
Cauchi was instrumental each time he touched the ball and finished with two goals along with hard-hitting skipper Nick Carnell.
The Blues enjoyed a positive start to the game – kicking the opening goal – but Coburg fought its way back into the game well, ignited by a coast-to-coast fast break and finished by Younan. Carnell and Venditti also hit the scoreboard early as the sides traded goals in what was a tight opening term.
The Lions defended well to keep the Blues goalless for 25 minutes in the second term while also taking their chances up forward to build a handy lead. Quick inside 50 entries and creative play from Coburg’s forwards helped the home side break the shackles in a scrappy, low-scoring game. Younan snapped his second from a contest and soon turned provider to set up young goal sneak Cauchi. Carnell laid a strong tackle to kick his second and a poor Blues kick across defence was a gift for Dion Hill.
Younan’s third was the only goal Coburg could produce in a third term that saw the Blues lift, close the gap and then take a one-point lead into the last term.
Poor decision-making hurt Coburg at times in the late stages of the game but the Lions stood up when it mattered and ultimately deserved the victory against their Bell Street rivals.