Stanhope has stamped its credentials as a genuine premiership threat after downing Nagambie by 25 points.
Having said that, it was a diabolical day personnel-wise for the Lakers.
Mick Shiels (overseas) and Marty Shadbolt, Kyle Winter-Irving, Jackson Hutton and Alex Tattersall (all injured) were non-starters, while Mick Roberts and Brayden Biggs (hamstrings) and Daine Lowry (knocked out) were all off the ground by early in the second quarter and played no further part in the match.
Additionally, the Lakers were so short on numbers across the board that Fintan Butler and Trent Muir doubled up and played both seniors and reserves.
While crediting the Lions’ impressive performance, the Lakers’ coach Linc Sullivan said with no bench for the majority of the match, his side pretty much ran out of steam.
‘‘Look, they’re a pretty good side, they are probably vying for that top-two spot with ourselves and Violet Town, and they came to play on Saturday, no doubt about that,’’ Sullivan said.
‘‘We were a touch undermanned, in fairness we pretty much had our spine out and that makes a big difference, but we thought we could still cover it but we came up a bit short.
‘‘The big turning point was Daine Lowry, Mick Roberts and Brayden biggs all sustaining injuries. It took our bench out and we were left to run out the game with 18 men.
‘‘We just ran out of man power and leg power with no bench and they ran over the top of us in the end.’’
Nagambie was in touch early, and trailed by less than three straight kicks at half-time.
The Lakers booted the opening goal of the third term to reduce the margin to just 11 points, but as the side began to tire, Stanhope capitalised and started to mount the pressure on the scoreboard.
The Lions’ lead had extended to 26 points by the last change, while a goal on the final siren flattered Stanhope’s score somewhat in the crucial 25-point victory.
The Lakers shared the spoils up forward, with Anthony Haysom, Pat Rattray, Matt Waterson and Harley Taylor-Lloyd all booting two goals, while three other players booted a goal.
‘‘We probably needed to improve our cleanliness in getting the ball to Waterson, Hayso and Patty, I’d like the delivery to be a bit more direct, we got a touch predictable there in the end, I thought,’’ Sullivan said.
‘‘But really, they were just too good and in fairness to them they played well, and they were coming off a bit of a surprise loss (to Murchison-Toolamba), so they were out to prove a point.’’
Sullivan said Lowry’s concussion was fair play, after he courageously went back with the flight of the ball into the pack and was knocked unconscious.
He is expected to return next week, while Roberts and Biggs will be three-week propositions.
Score: Stanhope 14.14 (98) d Nagambie 11.7 (73)
Goals: A. Haysom, P. Rattray, M. Waterson, H. Taylor-Lloyd 2; B. Connors, M. Winter-Irving, T. Stevens
Best: A. Haysom, B. Connors, S. Barber, D. Haysom, B. Hutton, M. Nolan.
Nagambie toiled hard but came up a tad short against premiership fancy Stanhope.
A slow start saw the Lakers register just three behinds in the opening term, while Stanhope booted a wayward 2.6 to hold a 15-point buffer by the first break.
Nagambie got itself back in the game in the second term to trail by just two points at the main break, but it was the third term that was the turning point in the match.
An undermanned Nagambie managed just a solitary behind while Stanhope had a field day up forward, kicking five goals to take a 35-point buffer into the final quarter.
The Lakers won the last quarter by a goal, but Stanhope’s lead proved too great and the Lions registered a 29-point victory.
Blair Taylor-Lloyd and Michael Watson kicked two goals apiece.
Score: Stanhope 10.11 (71) d Nagambie 6.6 (42)
Goals: B. Taylor-Lloyd, M. Watson 2; S. Potts, M. Sloan
Best: W. Ulrich, J. Shepherd, K. Shepherd, M. Watson, L. Hayman, M. Sloan.