How do you cover the loss of the league’s top goalkicker?
For the Wollongong Lions, the answer was to throw returning two-time premiership defender Josh Tier forward.
James Adamson has kicked 39 goals in five games, but has struggled with niggling injury since booting 14 against Northern Districts a fortnight ago.
With Jake Hogarth also missing, coach Ray Burgess shifted Tier – who captained the Lions 2016 premiership – into a rare forward role. And it paid almost immediate dividends, kicking three before half-time in a five-goal haul, as the Lions marched to a 16.13 (109) to 3.6 (24) win over Bomaderry at Artie Smith Oval.
“We’d talked about it for a couple of weeks, knowing we’d be missing a few blokes for this game,” Burgess said.
“Tiery gives us great experience, he’s a 200-game player, and I guess he’s learned a thing or two about forwards while playing down back all this time.”
The five-goal haul takes Tier’s career tally to 13, dating back to the Lions days in the AFL Sydney competition.
Toby Bishop kicked four, while 18-year-old Brian Judd made his senior debut, finishing with two goals, as Lachlan Konza, Dave Nolen and Lachlan Maples were among the Lions’ best.
“It was great to give Juddy an opportunity,” Burgess said. “He’s a big body for a young kid and caused a bit of chaos crashing packs.
“He had some family come along to watch him debut, so it was good to see him kick a couple as well.”
A six-goal second term set the Lions on course for another thumping win, unbeaten after seven games with a percentage of 597.76.
Kiama, who are again the Lions biggest threat to winning a third consecutive flag, showed they’re in ominous form with a 185-point thumping of Nowra-Albatross. Troy Cole kicked 12 and Scott Phillips seven in a best-on-ground performance.
Figtree produced a stunning 10-goal fourth term in a 21.16 (142) to 8.7 (55) victory over Northern Districts.
The Kangaroos were in control after three quarters, leading by 28 points, but completely dominated the final term, as Daniel Perger kicked 10 goals.
In the other game, Wollongong Bulldogs remained in third with a 92-point belting of Shellharbour, including 10 different goalkickers.
AFL SOUTH COAST
Ladder: Wollongong Lions 28 (597.96%), Kiama 24 (372.73), Wollongong Bulldogs 20 (253.31), Figtree 20 (148.57), Shellharbour City 12 (92.93), Northern Districts 12 (62.21), Bomaderry 12 (46.57), Port Kembla 8 (23.40), Nowra-Albatross 4 (16.34).