Sam Wilson bags six goals but Lions end with a whimper

Sam Wilson kicked six goals for the Illawarra Lions.

Sam Wilson kicked six goals for the Illawarra Lions.

AUSTRALIAN RULES

Fullback turned half-forward Sam Wilson booted six goals but the Illawarra Lions finished the Sydney AFL season with a 22-point defeat to Southern Power at Gwawley Oval on Saturday.

The Lions rallied with six goals in the final term but trailed at every change in a disappointing 12.16 (88) to 10.6 (66) defeat.

Illawarra finished below expectations in eighth place (six wins/11 losses) in their first season back in First Division since winning the flag in 2004.

After playing his whole rookie season in defence, 17-year-old Wilson showed a liking for the half-forward flank with a brilliant six-goal haul.

"Playing fullback all year I hadn't even kicked a goal, so to get six was pretty good," Wilson said.

The youngster took every opportunity presented with six straight goals and said he hoped to play forward next season.

"I enjoyed it up there and I'd like to play forward more next year for sure."

Wilson was the standout in a generally poor performance, with Illawarra trailing by 26 points at half-time and by almost nine goals at three-quarter time.

The sixth-placed Power dominated from the first quarter with seven scoring shots to just two behinds to the Lions at quarter-time.

With Wilson a handful in the final term, the Lions booted six goals to two to make the score respectable but it was not the performance the Lions were hoping for after beating leaders Balmain and fifth-placed Pennant Hills in their past two matches.

Besides Wilson, who was the standout, Ethan Hailey and Daniel Worden were the Lions's best.

Lions club president Debbie Brookfield confirmed player-coach Dave Nolen was unlikely to continue as coach next season but wanted to remain with the club as a player.

"It's very tough playing and coaching and Dave has done a tremendous job but next season we are looking for a new coach," Brookfield said.

The Lions have already spoken to a couple of interested candidates but will not rush the decision and hope to make an announcement on a new coach before Christmas.

Nolen took on the role as player-coach this season with the Lions rebuilding back in First Division after struggling for a couple of years in Premier Division.

With a young squad hard hit by injuries, the Lions won six games and beat three teams in the top five in Balmain, UTS Bats and Pennant Hills.

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