Illawarra Lions claim third top scalp by banishing Demons


Dave Nolen

Dave Nolen

Illawarra Lions upset a third Sydney AFL premiership contender at home with a fighting 23-point victory over Pennant Hills at North Dalton Park on Saturday.

The Lions are out of finals contention but found their best form of the season and led at every change in a 9.11 (65) to 6.6 (42) win.

After a 29-point victory over leaders Balmain, Illawarra defeated third-placed UTS Bats and now fifth-placed Demons at home in the past five weeks.

A run of poor results mid-way through the season as the Lions struggled with injuries, and their depth exposed, almost certainly cost the club any chance of a spot in the top-five finals.

With two away games to go in 2014, Lions coach Dave Nolen at least had the positive finish to the season he had hoped for from his side.

In front of a good crowd under lights, the Lions narrowly won every quarter against the Demons; it was their dogged four-quarter effort which proved the difference.

Both teams scored three goals in the first term but the Lions held the visitors to just three more goals in the final three quarters, with their defensive pressure and hard work at the contest a key factor in the victory.

Stewart Boyd was among the Lions' best as he booted two goals, with Jake Hogarth and Joel Smith kicking two goals.

Ryan Wells and Erin Franklin were outstanding but it was the team performance which was most encouraging for the home side.

The result moved the Lions up to seventh (six wins/10 losses) on the ladder; on recent form they should be able to beat struggling Uni of NSW/Eastern Suburbs this Sunday and Southern Power in their final two games for 2014.

In other round-16 games, Balmain bounced back from their loss by beating second-placed Macquarie Uni by four goals, Southern Power beat St George by two goals and Holroyd beat UTS Bats by three points.


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