Lions defense delivers goods in Rams clash

SYDNEY AFL

MIKE DRISCOLL

Illawarra Lions kept Penrith Rams goalless deep into the fourth quarter to win by five goals in heavy conditions in Saturday’s Sydney AFL Division One clash at Kelso Oval.

A week after they held Uni of NSW/Eastern Suburbs to seven scoring shots, the Lions made it two wins from three rounds in a gritty 5.22 (52) to 3.3 (21) victory.

Muddy, greasy conditions made it tough kicking goals but 27 scoring shots to six highlighted the Lions’ dominance.

‘‘Once they only had a single behind to quarter-time, we talked among ourselves that our goal was to keep them goalless the whole game,’’ Lions player-coach Dave Nolen said.

‘‘We kept them out until into the last term – they only had the two behinds – before a few injuries took their toll on us, we got a bit tired and for a few minutes they kicked three goals,’’ he said.

‘‘It was an excellent effort to hold a team to three goals; we missed a fair few otherwise there would’ve been a real margin between us.’’

The match was moved from Penrith’s unplayable home ground of Mahoney Oval to Kelso Oval on Friday.

The Lions midfield and defence excelled in the heavy conditions.

‘‘Everyone worked hard for one another,’’ Nolen said.

‘‘We operated with a sweeper, quarterback-type, who mopped up a fair bit of ball. 

‘‘The second efforts were there and considering we have a lot of new players the teamwork was better in this game than the previous.’’

Nolen said young on-baller Ben Forst, in his first game of the season, and midfield mate Tom Walsh put in big performances, winning plenty of contested ball.

After struggling in the elite premier division in recent seasons,  the Lions elected to drop back to the second tier competition this season.  After a three-point loss to St George in round one, they have won their past two games.

Nolen says there are plenty of tough games to come but the early season signs  are promising.

The Sydney AFL competition has a bye over Easter – the Lions host Holroyd-Parramatta on April 26 at North Dalton Park.

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