Lions hold firm to continue undefeated start

Published on Sunday, April 21, 2024

Author : Jack Traianou

A five-goal to one opening term set the base for South Morang’s third consecutive victory in the MC Labour Division 2 competition, defeating Thomastown by 21 points at Mill Park Lakes Reserve.

The Bears trailed all afternoon despite the potential to mount a comeback late in the match, however the Lions’ work in the first quarter put them in good stead to produce an impressive display on their way to a 14.10 (94) to 10.13 (73) triumph.

It was the Kyle Wheatley show inside 50, with the South Morang forward making the afternoon his own to finish with a five-goal haul.

Bailey Brown led the way in midfield. Whether it was his contested ball work, his ability to apply pressure or his two third quarter majors, he was always finding ways to impact the contest effectively.

Meanwhile at the other end of the ground, the returning Deacon Kalpakis as well as Micheal Burns were at their intercept marking best in defensive 50, ensuring Thomastown got no easy looks at goal.

Paul Sidhu played an important role on Thomastown’s James Lucente, and kept him to only one major for the match.

2023 MC Labour Division 2 best and fairest winner Tyrone Leonardis faced his old side for the first time since making the move to Mill Park Lakes Reserve in the off-season and proved to be a crucial part of South Morang’s victory with his run and carry off half back.

Despite the Bears attempts to work back into the game at various stages, they could not sustain the pressure for a full four quarters.

After a strong performance in his first two weeks as a Bear, Kyle Green stepped up to the plate again while Tyla Barrow, in his 50th club appearance, was a standout in defensive 50 for his side.

Jarryd Coulson and Michael Le Tang linked up well in midfield, with Coulson giving Le Tang and other teammates plenty of opportunities to gain clearances for the visitors.

Gary Hall’s men were switched on from the first siren and went on a rampage in the opening 12 minutes of the game, kicking four straight goals, led by two from Wheatley.

Thomastown’s attempt at responding to their opposition’s hot start came through Kyle Green, who kicked his sixth goal of the season to get the Bears on the board.

The visitors started to pick up momentum following Green’s major with multiple inside 50 opportunities and set shot chances, but led by Kalpakis, a resolute Lions defence held Thomastown to three scoring shots for the term.

Adam De Propertis would put the finishing touches to an excellent term for South Morang, selling the candy inside 50 to slot home his side’s fifth goal.

Down 26 points at quarter time, the Bears tried to imitate the Lions’ fast start to the game, and they did well to bring the margin down to two goals halfway through the second term.

Despite this mini surge, the away side couldn’t fully capitlise on their dominance, allowing the Lions to pounce, with Wheatley converting a set shot to register his third of the afternoon.

South Morang ended the half on good terms when in his second game, Jesse Christidis slotted a beautiful set shot to score his first senior goal, allowing his side to lead by 22 points at the main break.

Christidis would be involved in the first play of the second half, with some clean hands setting up Bailey Brown to kick his first of the match.

Charbel Khoury, who was one of the visitors’ better players in the second half, hit back for his side but the Lions would again have all the answers and kick the next four majors of the match, highlighted by Wheatley’s fourth and fifth goals of the game.

The margin was 45 points, but Thomastown weren’t done with yet, with a moment of brilliance by Julian Janev through the middle of the ground setting up a Bears goal to break their opposition’s momentum and spark a three-goal run for David Folino and Sashe Spiroski’s men.

With a deficit of 26 points to face in the last quarter, the Bears looked like a fierce outfit to start the term, as Nick Jolly got in prime position from a quick clearance to get another for Thomastown and reduce the margin to 20.

But it would be a crucial goal from Mathew Robinson, who drifted forward, at the 10-minute mark of the term that proved to be a settler for South Morang.

The Bears would go on to register two of the final three goals of the match, but the sting had been well and truly taken out of the game by that stage, with the Lions emerging victorious by 21 points.

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