Lions gallant but fade against Pies

By Jack Kovacic

Coburg have been defeated by 25 points in its first practice match against VFL opposition in 2019.

Lions fans will be excited by the signs they saw against Collingwood on Friday night with both new recruits and well-known names putting their hands up for round one selection in three weeks’ time.

As Coburg fans came to expect last year, Marcus Lentini found plenty of the ball and was also able to kick the first goal of the night, following a double 50 metre penalty.

Coburg’s pressure was a feature of its game, with the ball being locked inside the forward half for a majority of the first half of the game. This was able to generate repeat forward 50 entries but as can be expected in a practice match, the quality of these entries was not high which limited the Lions’ forwards goal scoring opportunities.

The high amount of forward half pressure meant the first half was played on Coburg’s terms as Collingwood struggled to transition the ball from defence to attack.

Former Gold Coast Suns academy member Harry Simington marked strongly inside 50 early in the second quarter and was able to goal from a tight angle to extend Coburg’s lead to seven points.

The Magpies started to work their way back into the game late in the second quarter before continuing that trend in the third, kicking four goals in a row as Coburg’s defence struggled for the first time in the match.

Back to back goals from new recruits Kane Noonan and Ben Reddick enabled Coburg to win back the momentum late in the third term as it would go into the final break trailing by just a goal.

Unfortunately, Collingwood ran away with the game in the final quarter as it held Coburg scoreless until the full-time siren when Hedley Smith was able to goal from a tough angle.

Speaking post-game, Coburg co-captain Ryan Exon said he had pulled up well following his first competitive hit out of 2019.

“I’m a bit sore, with the first game back you always tend to get a few knocks that your body isn’t used to from training,” he said “But I’m not too bad I feel okay so we will do some recovery now and then get ready for next week”

Exon was impressed with the play from a number of the club’s new recruits for the upcoming season.

“Ben Reddick was really good tonight, the selfless stuff he does is really noticeable for us,” Exon said.

“Jonty (Neaves) competed really well in the ruck, as did Floyd (Bollinghaus), their work rates were super which is what we definitely need from our ruckman, to get back and defend.”

Despite the loss, assistant coach Brent Taylor found plenty of positives from the game.

“Our defensive pressure was really good and offensively we worked hard but just at critical times we had a fumble or a turnover but there were some really positive signs,” he said.

“The communication impressed me the most, the forward pressure as well, we were right on them with our frontal pressure and trying to win the footy back,” Taylor said. “We just didn’t quite get the reward when we missed a few of those set shots.”

Coburg will be back in action next week when it takes on Essendon in its second practice game for the year before the season begins on Saturday the 4th of April, again playing Collingwood but this time at Piranha Park.

Collingwood 9.6.60
Coburg 5.5.35
Goals: Lentini, Simington, Noonan, Reddick, Smith

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