Saturday’s match, played at the Benalla Showgrounds, was dominated by the Saints from the outset, as they cruised to a 118-67 victory.
Save for a redeeming final quarter, the Lions would have finished the game with just 22 points. The side was kept goal-less in the first and third quarters.
The Saints were predicted to finish lower than the Lions by all pre-season pundits’ accounts, but the round one win proved otherwise.
Lions head coach Nick Jewell said the side was out-muscled on the day.
‘‘We were outplayed and full credit to them, they were harder at the footy and ran harder than us. It was a bit of a step up.
‘‘While it wasn’t ideal, it was the game we needed to get up to speed. We did finish off with seven goals, and I always believe that we will take that form into the next game,’’ he said.
The Saints midfield controlled the clearances for the majority of the game, led by veteran James Marchbank and Sam Martyn, Saints head coach Luke Morgan said.
‘‘We kept them scoreless in the third quarter and played sensibly in that quarter. In the midfield we were led by James Marchbank, where his lot were quality all day,’’ he said.
Nick Warnock provided a steady option up front, finishing four chances on the day.
‘‘Our forward line was led by Nick Warnock, as our target man, in the new-look system and the dynamic worked well,’’ Morgan said.
This weekend the Lions will host the Echuca Murray Bombers at Kings Park.
Jewell said Echuca will be fresh after having the bye on the weekend.
‘‘They had a terrific win against Tatura as well the week before. They have a lot of new faces and by all reports they’ll be strong.
‘‘We’ve had something like 12 new faces since last year’s finals, maybe more, so over half the side is new or up from the seconds,’’ he said.
In the reserves, the win was sealed by Seymour as they took the lead in the dying minutes and held on to win by two points.
Seymour’s under-18s smashed Benalla all over the ground. The final score a 21-98 win.
Benalla 5.3, 11.6, 14.13, 17.16 (118)
Seymour 0.3, 3.4, 3.4, 10.7 (67)
Benalla: L. Morgan 5, N. Warnock 4, J. Dunne 3, M. O’’Brien, L. Thompson, W. King, S. Martyn, J. Martyn.
Seymour: J. Anderson 3, H. Taylor-Lloyd 2, B. Clifton 2, J. Cole, K. Winter-Irving, M. McLean.
Benalla: S. Martyn, L. Morgan, J. Marchbank, J. Dunne, N. Warnock, M. O’Brien.
Seymour: J. Cole, M. McLean, A. Adams, K. Winter-Irving, A. Johnston, J. Durham.