ONE monkey is off Sunbury’s back. One still awaits.
The eastern Lions surprised arch rival Redan in Saturday’s Ballarat Football League qualifying final with a nine goals to two first half on the way to an impressive 13.18 (96) to 8.13 (61) victory at Eastern Oval.
In the process they ended a minor drought at the venue they will have to play at on grand final day if Sunbury is to vie for its first premiership win since 2004.
Sunbury coach Rick Horwood said observers were happy to point out that the eastern Lions had not won at Eastern Oval since 2010, and his team had now taken care of that.
“The monkey is off our back. We won at Eastern Oval,” he said.
“We’re not getting too carried away.
“The players, they’re happy they’ve had a win but they are already focussed on recovery and the week ahead.
“It is nice to beat Redan in September but it won’t mean anything next time we play them.”
There was plenty of heat in the first eight minutes of the match, as the ball went from end to end.
The only shot at goal was a miss to Simon Clarke.
However, after Scott Lobb kicked the first goal of the match, Sunbury played a brand of football that could yet deliver it that elusive flag.
Simon Clarke dominated the air in the forward 50.
And anything that wasn’t marked by Clarke or Dale Ciunik was picked off by small forwards Scott Lobb and Matthew Medcraft.
At the other end of the ground Brett Chambers and Allan O’Connor had the better of their own match-ups, while providing support up field as well. In the middle, Pat Cariss was imposing, giving first use of the ball to Jay Cheep and Jamie Lobb.
In 15 minutes Sunbury was five goals up. By half-time the margin was 41 points.
In contrast, Redan looked flat. The only effective target up forward was Dean Chester who had 2.4 to half-time.
“We got the first clearance, we were first in forward 50 but they got it out of there very easily,” Redan playing coach Brendan Peace explained.
“We lacked intensity. Our effort picked up in the last three quarters but there is still room for improvement.
“Full credit to Sunbury, though. They played very well.”
The contest after half-time was far more even as Matt Hyden, Brenton Riordan, Grant Bell, Jesse Dundon and Ryan Waight lifted up a gear. The L&H Lions even managed to win the last quarter, three goals to one.
But the day was Sunbury’s, the eastern Lions to now face East Point for a ticket into the grand final.
Redan, meanwhile, faces a sudden death semi-final against North Ballarat City.
“You hope it stings us into action,” Peace said.
“It’s all or nothing next week with a chance to go out in straight sets. I’d hope the group has a bit more pride than that.”