Beware the 2012 Lions

MARK: South Gawler's Jake Spicer.
MARK: South Gawler's Jake Spicer.

Momentum is building at South Gawler after the Lions beat Freeling at home on Saturday by 75 points, for the club’s first back-to-back BL&GFA victories since mid-season 2008.

And if South can travel to Kapunda and come away with its third consecutive win this Saturday, it will be the first time the Lions have achieved that feat in one season since the last three minor round games of 1998 - before going out of the finals in straight sets.

There is something exciting about the 2012 brand Lions, as they seem to have put a cohesive unit on the field, with tough-as-nails defenders and opportunist forwards surrounding an impressive on-ball brigade.

On the back of a successful junior program over the past decade, South has been predicted as a big improver over recent years, with that promise starting to pay dividends, complemented by the acquisition of several experienced players.

Beware of the Lions in 2012, the mix is now right.

Freeling is an accomplished side that should fight it out for a top four berth as the season progresses, which highlights the new-found authority of the South Gawler game plan.

As they did the previous week against Willaston, the Lions opening was sparkling against Freeling, with Heath Lawry’s strength in the centre square and booming kicks proving decisive, while spearhead Anton Gerardis was electric with three goals.

The home side was irresistible, booting 7-2 in the first quarter, punctuated by the Redlegs’ 2-2, for a 31-point lead.

Fired up Freeling coach Mark Tylor laid the ground rules down to his charges at the first break, and demanded his charges aim to be in front by half time.

He identified too many individual efforts were costing his side, while they needed to ‘tidy up’ their use of the ball.

The response from the Redlegs was admirable, as they became more accountable at the stoppages and worked hard to create scoring opportunities, booting four goals to one to reduce the margin to 16-points at the long break.

But the effort proved costly, as the rampant Lions controlled virtually the entire third term, with 12 scoring shots to none, although blotting their copybook slightly with a return of 4-8.

A highlight came 15 minutes into the period, when, after five consecutive behinds by South, Chris Musolino collected a loose ball and swung onto his left boot, to kick the goal of the game.

The final stanza was similar to the previous quarter, with a dominant South booting 5-5 to 1-2, to extend its advantage out to 75 points.

“In the end the main difference was their superior work rate, as too many waited for others to do it for us,” Freeling coach Mark Tylor said.

“Our improvement has to come from within. You can set game plans up, but if you are not willing to pay the price of success - hard work - you will be pushing ‘it’ up hill.”

There were winners everywhere for the Lions, with Jacob Ahern out of defence a stand-out over four quarters, while youngster Daniel Golding scouted the packs superbly.

Mark Paget won his ruck duel against Freeling’s Rhys Clinton, while Lawry, Musolino, Matt Foldesdy and skipper Aaron Bayliss fueled the engine room with explosive games.

Freeling had few consistent four-quarter performers, with tall timber Ben Parish (forward) and Shane Schubert (defence) working hard against the tide, while Darren Francis, although having his hands full with Gerardis, defended gamely.

“Our run all day was good, although Freeling had a bit of a purple patch in the second quarter,” South coach Scott Lee said.

“We were hard at it but perhaps need to clean up our finishing. It was a good team performance, where everyone contributed.”

The Lions travel to Kapunda this week, looking to enhance their finals prospects, while how good Freeling will be this season will be made clearer, when it hosts Angaston.