Lions still in with a chance

September 13, 2017

Seymour footy, v Kyabram

Seymour footy, v Kyabram

Seymour footy, v Kyabram

James Falcone drives the ball forward.

Brent Ryan defended well all game.

Seymour footy, v Kyabram

Seymour footy, v Kyabram

Dylan Scopel punches the ball clear.

Jake Anderson takes a strong mark.

Jordan Hockley sprints away from his man.

Ben Clifton takes a great mark.

Seymour’s backline performed admirably under constant pressure all game.

Seymour may have coughed up the opportunity to move straight in to this year’s Goulburn Valley League grand final, but a second chance at a grand final berth beckons this Sunday.

Seymour was poor — especially early — on Saturday, albeit against a classy and undefeated Kyabram outfit, and this weekend’s preliminary final against Shepparton will be another huge test for the young Lions side.

It’s hard to read too much in to the Bears’ and the Lions’ only encounter this season.

It was way back in round 11, and Seymour had fielded a much different side to that which will take the park this weekend.

The Lions went down by 25 points, but that day there was no Andrew Sturgess, no Brett Meredith and no Jason Cole in the line up.

The trio were all out injured, but will be in the team this Sunday as the Lions vie for a spot in the big dance.

Coach Brent Colbert knows his side has the work in front of them, but he said the Lions would go in to the penultimate match of the season reasonably confident.

‘‘We’ll have a different line up to when we played them last so that’ll give us a bit of a boost, but Shepp had a great win against Rochy on Sunday so it’s not going to be easy for us,’’ he said.

‘‘They are an impressive side with some real A-grade mids, and they also have a solid back line and they have got the forwards to kick a winning score. They’re just good all-over really.

‘‘They are the best ball-kicking side in the league too, they can be really damaging by foot, but I think we match-up well with them.’’

For the Lions, overcoming their slow starts is going to be critical to a win on Sunday.

The side hasn’t been able to string a solid four quarters together on many occasions this season.

Even against Kyabram, Seymour was brilliant in patches, but it couldn’t match the intensity for the full four quarters.

Colbert is banking on the Lions turning that around this weekend.

‘‘You don’t lose your form in a week, it’s definitely a mental thing for our guys,’’ he said.

‘‘Finals is a totally different ball game, and last week against Benalla and then this week against Kyabram, we just didn’t come to play.

‘‘Finals footy goes up another level and if you’re not prepared for that you get found out.’’

Probably the hardest part for Colbert will be this Thursday at the selection table.

Himself and fellow backman Matty O’Keefe sat out Saturday’s game with hamstring tightness, but will be certain starters for the prelim — assuming all is well with the hamstrings.

Meredith came in to the side after being sidelined since round seven after lacerating his kidney, while Alex Hay was the other to get a gig to replace the injured duo.

Hay was far from the Lions’ worst player on the weekend and would be unlucky to be dropped for Colbert and O’Keefe’s return, while Meredith would be a certain starter, so long as he pulled up okay from his comeback match.

‘‘We pretty much have a full list to choose from, which is a good problem to have, but there’s going to be a couple of boys who are unlucky, that’s for sure,’’ Colbert said.

A spot in the grand final would be a fairy tale for Seymour in Colbert’s last year as coach.

It’s been five years since the Lions last appeared in a grand final, and 10 years since they last won one.

‘‘The boys really want it and if we can just get to the grand final, anything can happen on the day,’’ Colbert said.

‘‘The group’s been building for a couple years and through this season we’ve had really great results, but we just need to put a four-quarter game together on Sunday.’’

●Seymour plays at Deakin Reserve at 2pm on Sunday.

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