Bears maul Lions

July 08, 2017

An injury-plagued Seymour was no match for Shepparton on the Bears’ home turf, going down by 25 points.

An injury-plagued Seymour was no match for Shepparton on the Bears’ home turf, going down by 25 points.

Some of the Lions’ best were again on the sidelines on Saturday — including reigning best and fairest winner Andrew Sturgess, Vic Country representative Jason Cole, Ben Clifton, Jake Anderson and Brett Meredith — and they simply couldn’t match up to the powerful Bears outfit.

The injuries have taken their toll on the Lions, who up until a few weeks ago had been flying with a 5-0 start to the year. However, the Lions have won just two of their six matches since and have now slipped to sixth spot on the ladder.

Despite the loss, coach Brent Colbert couldn’t fault his side’s output.

‘‘I thought the effort from the boys was definitely there,’’ he said.

‘‘We had five of our best players out and Shepp were at full strength, and they also had a couple of VFL guys playing, so really they were at full strength plus a couple more.

‘‘We talked a lot about effort during the week, and I just couldn’t doubt the boys because they gave it their all.

‘‘We didn’t get the points but I walked away happy with the performance.’’

The Lions booted the opening two goals of the match within the first four minutes, but Shepparton responded with the next four goals to wrestle back control by quarter-time, before the Bears stretched the lead to more than four goals by half-time.

Despite the best efforts of Hugh Robertson (four goals) up forward, the huge hole in the forward line left by Saad Saad’s absence was clearly evident.

Colbert threw defender Matty O’Keefe up forward to add some strength to the Lions’ attack, and while he didn’t boot any majors, he was still a solid target for the Lions and allowed Robertson some breathing space.

‘‘We just had to do something, by that stage the game was starting to slip away,’’ Colbert said.

‘‘Hughy was looked dangerous down there but we really needed another avenue for goal and Matty gave us that.’’

Brent Ryan went to the dangerous James Wong after O’Keefe went forward. Wong had booted three goals by the three-minute mark of the second term, but was kept scoreless under the watch of Ryan.

Seymour trailed by 37 points at three-quarter time, and when Shepparton kicked the opening goal of the last quarter, it looked as though it was going to be a hefty loss for the Lions.

However, the Bears didn’t kick another goal for the term, while Seymour managed three straight to return some respectability to the scoreboard.

Despite Shepparton’s dominance on the scoreboard, the key stats around the ground showed otherwise.

The Lions were well ahead in centre clearances, the stoppage count was similar, Shepparton only had marginally more inside 50s than the Lions, and Seymour’s tackle count was well ahead.

‘‘The difference was just the polish from the Bears,’’ Colbert said.

‘‘They were taking possession a lot better and capitalising on our turnovers.

‘‘The intent was there and the guys had a real crack. It was just that polish in finishing that we lacked.’’

Sturgess and Clifton are expected to return for this week’s must-win clash against Rochester.

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