ONCE Coburg Lions sunk their claws into this game, it was always going to be hard for North Ballarat Roosters to make them let go.
It took a big, disciplined final term for the Selkirk Roosters to claim a 26-point win and crucial step towards finals in a tight Victorian Football League race.
The standalone Lions, with only three wins this season, play brave and fierce. They take the game on with their speed in run-and-carry.
This is what the Roosters expected and exactly what the Roosters got at Coburg City Oval on Sunday.
The Lions had more goals on the board than the Roosters at half and three-quarter-time but the Roosters had the edge each time with an excess of behinds.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald called on his players to stick to the very things that allowed them to capture wins in tight bouts through their mid-season winning streak – belief in team methods.
“We knew it would not be easy and it wasn’t. We knew we would have to fight to win and I thought we battled really hard,” FitzGerald said.
“Our last quarter was a terrific quarter and our methods stood up – we switched play and changed our angles...we were winning the ball and getting it forward.
“We didn’t try something new. We persisted with our methods.”
Three quick goals to open the fourth quarter gave the Roosters a handy buffer on the Lions, who were just six points short at the final break.
FitzGerald said his coaches and players were aware how quickly the Lions could pile on goals – they made a six-goal blitz within an 11-minute period to rattle top-four team Box Hill late in the game last week.
The Roosters’ backlines, with emerging leaders Luke Kiel and Tony Lockyer setting the tone, were solid in their organised structure behind the ball.
North Melbourne-listed defender Max Warren (28 disposals, 10 marks) earned best on ground honours, impressing with his consistent running patterns, while Kiel played a strong lock-down role on dangerous Lion Nick Carnell.
Rooster Lachie George was also a standout on-field leader through the midfield pushing forward and chipping in two goals.
The returning Trent Dumont was in stellar form, back on the field after a heavy three-week training period, and spending time up forward for 35 disposals, 10 marks and three goals.
North Ballarat Roosters now prepare to host Geelong at Eureka Stadium on Sunday.