Bears maul Li­ons

Seymour Telegraph - - SPORT - By Ali­son O’Con­nor

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 half­time.

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 three­quar­ter 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.

Pic­tures: Rob Brooks

Speedy: Harry Wheeler chases down his op­po­nent.

Wily: Max McLean out­smarts his op­po­nent.

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