A six-goal first quarter for Harvey Brunswick Leschenault proved the difference maker as the Lions powered their way past the Collie Eagles on Sunday.
The Lions kicked five unaswered goals to end the first quarter, giving them a comfortable lead they held for the rest of the day as they romped home to a 34 point victory.
The Eagles came into the game with good form and it showed early as Jayce Fontana kicked two of the game’s first three goals.
Matt Blackford was given the job of curtailing the influence of former Fremantle Docker Jesse Crichton, but it didn’t last long as the former captain came off in the first quarter with a leg injury.
With dominant ruckman Mitch Andrews regularly getting his hand to the ball at stoppages, it wasn’t long before the Lions midfield clicked into gear and controlled the clearances.
The results were stunning as the Lions got on a roll and bombarded the Eagles’ defenders, resulting in five goals in less than ten minutes to close the quarter.
Already four goals behind at the first change, the Eagles needed to close down Harvey Brunswick Leschenault’s forwards.
While the Eagles couldn’t stop the Lions’ midfield dominance, they showed greater defensive focus and stopped the Lions’ forwards from finding space.
Eight behinds and no goals from Harvey Brunswick Leschenault in the second quarter kept the Eagles in the game at half time, although Collie managed just the one extra goal itself.
The Eagles came out of the half time break with renewed focus, and within minutes the margin was back to just two goals.
But every time the Eagles dragged the margin back, the Lions responded quickly and pushed the buffer back to four goals.
Much the same as happened in the first quarter, the Lions clicked into gear late and put the game out of reach with the final three goals of the term to lead by six goals at the final break.
They continued the run after the game restarted for the final term with another three straight goals, with the game looking likely to get out of hand for the Eagles.
With 15 goals already kicked mere minutes into the fourth quarter, the Lions looked a chance at claiming the highest score of the season.
But it wasn’t to be as the Eagles withstood the pressure on their backline and pegged back three late goals to drag the margin back to 34 points in the 10.9 (69) to 15.13 (103) defeat.
Fontana and Blair Malatesta both ended the day with three goals, largely due to the strong work of Harvey Brunswick Leschenault defender Tom Kelly, who laid a number of important spoils throughout the second half.
Former AFL player Kristin Thornton kicked three goals for the Lions, while former WAFL ruckman Mitch Andrews was dangerous everywhere he played across the ground and finished with two goals and a couple of behinds.
Eagles coach Seth White said there were elements of the game the Eagles did well despite the scoreline.
“It was pretty strange. I was happy with how we were with the footy but without the footy we let them do whatever they want,” he said.
“They’re too classy to let them do that. Their young blokes are very skillful and they have some very good leaders so they just burned us off turnovers and lack of effort from our blokes without the footy.”
White said he wasn’t particularly concerned by the fact his team conceded 15 goals in the defeat.
“You’d usually be a bit worried by that but we tried a few things different,” he said.
“We played all our kids down back… we just decided to give them a bit of a challenge [and] I think their key forwards were pretty well held by our young kids.
“There’s plenty to work with and good signs for our future.”
White said he looking forward to the challenged posed by Bunbury in the season’s final round.
“I think it’s a really good way to finish,” he said.
“We’ve probably, over the last six weeks, changed who we are and how we want to play and where we’re going forward.
“At this stage, they’d probably be the premiership favourites so it’ll be good to find out where we’re at before we have a break for the off-season and then we can work with what we’ve got for next year.”
The Eagles will travel to PC Payne Park to take on the second-placed Bulldogs on Sunday in their final game of the 2018 South West Football League season.
B. Malatesta 3, J. Fontana 3, A. Kent 2, J. Dye, J. Houghton.
Harvey Brunswick Leschenault
K. Thornton 3, T. Heenan 2, T. Williams 2, M. Andrews 2, J. Moll, R. Gelmi, J. Crichton, K. Triplett, D. Newman, J. Strand.
K. Fleay, T. Vernon, M. Michael, A. Kent, T. Michael, L. Reuben.
Harvey Brunswick Leschenault
M. Andrews, J. Strand, K. Triplett, J. Quinn, J. Sabourne, J. Sell.