Lions hold their nerve, hold off Boomers in semi-final
Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault booked their place in the SWFL grand final after defeating the Eaton Boomers 7.12 (54) to 6.7 (43) in Sunday’s second semifinal at Brunswick Oval.
It was a fantastic game of football, which lived up to its pre-match billing.
Team selection for the match was intriguing, with the Lions leaving Kristin Thornton out due to a slight ankle injury.
However the Boomers elected to play their gun forward Jarrod Humphries, who had been under a fitness cloud, also with an ankle injury.
The tempo was frantic from the opening bounce, with both teams moving the ball quickly through the midfield, which put pressure on the respective defences.
Eaton opened the scoring, with Heath Ryder lively across half-forward. He bombed the ball to the square where Brandon Jetta marked strongly and converted.
The tackling was ferocious with no quarter being given by either side.
The Lions managed only one goal in the opening term, which was an uncharacteristic start for their high-octane forward line.
Zachariah Piper miskicked a set shot for goal, however Lions’ Matt Fenwick playing in front of the pack, took a chest mark and kicked the third goal of his career.
Trailing by a goal at quarter-time, the home side upped the ante in the second term.
They were starting to dominate around the ground and put the visitors under massive pressure. Tim Yarran was having a fine match, providing plenty of drive for the Lions.
Tom Heenan began to get on top across half-forward and set up back-to-back goals for Piper and Sean Bradley with scintillating passes.
However the home side suffered some major injuries late in the term, which could prove telling over the next fortnight.
Ben Ablett came off with a shoulder issue, before Tim Yarran was taken off on a stretcher with a lower-leg injury.
The teams continued their fierce attack on the ball after the main break, however the Lions started to get reward for effort on the scoreboard.
Their half-back line were rebounding strongly, with a courageous Ablett back on the ground leading by example.
Ty Armitage proceeded to set up Piper for his second goal and then Josh Underwood chimed in, running into an open goal.
When Ty Anderson used his pace and skill to snap another major, the Lions led by 23 points midway during the quarter and the Boomers were on the ropes.
To the credit, the visitors steeled themselves, with Mitch Kings kicking truly and Brandon Jetta nailing his third, which set the game up for a thrilling climax.
Piper received a massive shirtfront early in the final term and was knocked unconscious. The final few minutes were frantic, however, the Lions held their nerve in the clutch and directly advanced to the grand final.
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