BY KELLY MASTERS
It was nothing short a tough test for the Lions coming up against ladder leaders Richmond, at Holm Park Beaconsfield.
Mark Baker became Coburg’s 17thdebutant this season after working his way back from an interrupted start to the season with injury. Ryan Exon, Pete McEvoy, and Ben Reddick were all back in the squad after missing the opportunity to take on the Northern Blues.
Running out in the Blue fight MND socks to support and raise awareness for MND, the Lions began by kicking towards the Holm Park Road end.
Our defensive 50 saw plenty of the ball in the first term with an impressive spoil by Ryan Exon, tackles by Luke Bunker, and tireless rebounds from Tyson Lever and Josh Guthrie.
Richmond loved to work the ball down the wing on the clubroom side, being able to switch play across the ground quickly and effectively. Early on they were dangerous on the outside, finding the space and loose men while Coburg had too many in at the ball.
Coburg’s Inaccurate kicks to the opposition and turnovers could only be put down to perceived pressure by Richmond. When the Lions went forward, they struggled to find any free men and were unable to hit the scoreboard by quarter time.
The Tigers came out hungry in the second term with Shai Bolton kicking a goal in the first minute, but it wasn’t long before the Lions responded.
Lochlan Dickson cleared the ball out of congestion and was rewarded for his efforts by kicking Coburg’s first goal of the match from 50, at the five-minute mark of the second term.
It didn’t take long before Steve Stroobants ran into open goal, following up with our second.
There was a shortage of men down back when the Tigers got on a run, managing to beat Coburg to the play.
Marcus Lentini laid a strong tackle on Shai Bolton, but we continued to struggle with efficiency from our hard-earnt work. Tyson Lever looked dangerous for us in our back half with 13 disposals, 4 tackles, and 5 handballs by half time.
Later in the quarter the Lions started to open Richmond up, although couldn’t capitalise from their efforts on to the scoreboard. There was a great passage of play by Floyd Bollinghaus, Hedley Smith, and Josh Weightman in the corridor to get the ball to Pete McEvoy in front of goal, scoring a behind.
Not long after Steve Stroobants set a scoring opportunity up again for Pete McEvoy, this time McEvoy made sure he came away with the major.
Oleg Markov was reported at the 25-minute mark for a sling tackle on Lochlan Dickson. Fortunately for the Lions, Dickson was able to play out the remainder of the game.
33 -points down and kicking towards the Holm Park Road end again, the third term proved our most difficult. Richmond had numbers set up behind the ball whenever the Lions went forward, forcing Coburg to trail 14-5 inside 50s in this term.
There was no shortage of effort around the ball, although turnovers from fundamentals proved costly in the deciding quarter.
A great tackle by Harry Nolan saw us get a solid run on the wing, Ben Reddick increased his work rate, Tyson Lever continued to provide the pressure, and Luke Bunker became pivitol to minimising Tiger time.
Richmond led 10 scoring opportunities from 16 entries compared to Coburg’s 1 from 7 entries as the Lions regrouped at three quarter time.
67-points down heading into the last term, it wasn’t long before the Lions had something to roar about.
Mark Baker kicked his first major in Coburg colours from the pocket, with the group getting around the debutant for his achievement.
Luke Bunker snapped one more for the Lions late in the quarter finishing his day with 29 disposals, Marcus Lentini racked up 31, and Josh Guthrie ended with 29.
Richmond continued to dominate the possession, kicking four more goals to increase the deficit to 84 points at the final siren.
Speaking post-match Mark Baker reflected on his step up to VFL level.
“Yeah it’s been a long time coming I think; I’ve had to work really hard to get the opportunity so I’m grateful the coach has believed in me enough to give me a game.
“I thought the intensity of the game was right up there so plenty of things to learn. They’re (Richmond) are super switched on and they set up super well all day. It takes abit of a toll and you’ve really got to be switched on as well to counteract that, but plenty of things to learn from them so hopefully I can get abit more experience myself as well.”
Head Coach Leigh Adams took a measured approach to today’s result.
“First quarter we got jumped a little bit but our second quarter we worked our way back into the game structurally, but the most disappointing thing is probably that third quarter. Richmond are such a good evenly spread team and obviously with a fair few AFL listed boys out at the moment they structured up really well and stuck to their role and task all day.
“It’s going to be really good learning going through the vision to show the boys just what it takes to be a good football club, you really need to be working well together. We got away from our roles and our structure a little bit in that third quarter and good teams will make you pay, and they did,” Adams said.
Best: Lever, Bunker, Guthrie, Lentini, Weightman
Goals: McEvoy 2, Dickson, Stroobants, Baker, Bunker