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Best: Sturgess, Schraven, Lehmann, Rogers, Brandt, Tang
Goals: Robinson 2, Orr, Brandt, Cauchi, Sturgess, Hemala
Despite a four goal to one opening term, the Lions never truly gained momentum as the Roosters stormed home to win by 23 points at Highgate Reserve in Craigieburn.
The Lions were rotating the squad for the practice match with the majority of the leadership group missing as well as star young guns Nathan Blair and Ozgur Uysal and the match became a conduit for Calder Cannons players and new local level signings to stake their claim for a senior spot in Round 1.
In addition the Lions' bench was 8 strong with players rotating between halves to get a wide range of players competing in their first senior practice match for the Lions including Jackson Clarke, Abdi Fitaax and Josh Iacobaccio.
The Lions got off to the perfect start with local Cannon at his former home ground, Josh Cauchi getting the Lions' first 22 seconds into the match. Liam Brandt and Jai Robinson nailed two goals in quick succession to build the Lions' lead early in the match. However the Lions struggled to build on their fantastic start and North Ballarat through experienced AFL players Aaron Black and Robin Nahas, worked their way into the contest to cut the Lions' lead to just three at the main break.
From there, Lachie Johns, Nick Linton, and Mark Orr to name a few sat out the second half and opportunities were handed to Josh Iacobaccio, Ruairi Cleary and Jack Yelland to show the coaching staff what they're capable of.
A disappointing goalless third term left the Lions in a achievable yet frustrating predicament going into the last quarter being down by a goal and against the breeze, but the Roosters had the legs and with big Braydon Preuss pushing forward, the Lions were stretched for height and finished the game on a disappointing note.
Building on their VFL experience from last year were ex-Calder Cannons Ricky Schraven (14 Disposals, 4 Inside-50s) and Michael Tang (15 disposals, 3 rebound 50s) showed their composure at Highgate Reserve to provide link-up play between the two arcs.
Acting-captain Andrew Sturgess was the pick of the midfielders, leading by example to finish with 25 possessions and showed his commitment defensively adding 6 tackles.
Coburg now has a week off from practice matches and will now look towards a senior and development clash against Frankston on Good Friday; the first game of the year at Piranha Park.