Battered Lions seek relief after costly loss

DAVE NOLEN

DAVE NOLEN

SYDNEY AFL

Illawarra Lions suffered their fourth straight loss on Saturday but player-coach Dave Nolen says the club will benefit from a break this weekend as they seek relief from a crippling injury toll.

The Lions trailed all game in a 9.7 (61) to 4.6 (30) first-division loss to fourth-placed UTS Bats after a 10am bounce at Waverley Oval.

With key players Dylan Koop (ankle), Tom Walsh (broken foot), Jack Nugent (leg) and Ryan Wells (leg) heading a casualty list of up to 10 players, the Lions ran out of legs after they sustained several more injuries during the game.

Adam Birrer dislocated his shoulder in the opening three minutes, leaving the Lions immediately down an interchange rotation.

'We didn't come to play and were second to the ball, and UTS capitalised," Nolen said.

"If you're not switched on from the start you can be left chasing the game and that's what we were."

Despite trailing by 13 points at quarter-time and 17 at half-time, the Lions were still within three goals early in the third term even after they only kicked two goals.

But the lack of firepower on the forward line and a mounting injury toll left the Lions unable to fully run out the game, as UTS consolidated a top-four spot with their fifth win in seven rounds.

The Lions (2-5) won two of their first three matches but lost four straight and are struggling in seventh.

They have this weekend off with the wet weather round before they face second last-placed Penrith at home on Saturday week.

Illawarra will then have another week off with a full competition bye over the June long weekend.

"We should be able to get a few of the injured guys back for the Penrith game and then certainly for the game after the bye," Nolen said.

"The break will do us good, we'll get to reassess our season.

"The effort has been there. We just need to capitalise on our opportunities and get ourselves a win."

Joe Kenny kicked two of the Lions' four goals against UTS, while teenager Braydon Greenwood was again outstanding and supported by Will Cook and Peter Lloyd.

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