Depleted Lions fall short in AFL clash

Illawarra Lions player Stewart Boyd leaps to shut down a Macquarie University raid. Picture: ADAM McLEAN
Illawarra Lions player Stewart Boyd leaps to shut down a Macquarie University raid. Picture: ADAM McLEAN


Illawarra Lions struggled to create scoring chances and were beaten by 10 points by Macquarie University in a low-scoring Sydney AFL First Division clash at North Dalton Park.

The blustery conditions contributed to Saturday's scrappy contest and only six goals were posted, with Macquarie Uni winning 4.4 (28) to 2.6 (18).

It was the Lions' second straight home defeat in the second-tier Sydney competition following an encouraging start with two wins in the first three rounds.

Lions player coach Dave Nolen said first quarter injuries to key players Ryan Wells (hamstring) and Jack Nugent (corked quad) were critical, with neither player able to return after quarter-time.

"We really missed Jack's in-and-under presence and Ryan's goal-sense and it stretched our bench and in the end we ran out of legs a bit," Nolen said.

In-form Lion, Jake Hogarth also injured a leg in the fourth term and could be missing for a few weeks.

Illawarra's only two goals came in the second term, yet the visitors were only slightly more efficient with two goals in the first term and then only two more in the final three quarters.

William Cook who was among the Lions' best, booted one goal, with Ben Hyndes grabbing the other.

There was little between the teams - who even looked quite similar with a jumper clash - with the visitors booting two straight goals in the first term to lead by a game-high 11 points.

Illawarra had their best period in the second term, booting 2.3 and keeping Macquarie Uni to one goal to trail by only three points at half-time.

A goal-less third quarter in which the Lions managed just three behinds and the visitors two behinds left the Lions trailing by just two points at three quarter-time.

But Illawarra was kept scoreless in a disappointing final term with Maquarie Uni hanging on to win by 10 points and claim their third win of the season.

On a day when few players were able to be creative, 16-year-old Braydon Greenwood, along with Jackson Gray and Daniel Worden, were the Lions' best players.

"Braydon was outstanding and even though we lost we never dropped our heads and had a real go right to the end which was a positive," Nolen said.

The Lions (2-3) face one of the biggest tests of the season away to leaders Balmain (4-1) in round six next Sunday at Henson Park.


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