WEST Augusta fought out a hard-earned 13-point victory over Lions in the SGL preliminary final last weekend, ending the reigning premiers’ season.
West maintained a two-goal buffer for most afternoon in soggy conditions, just doing enough to keep the Lions at bay during a spirited third term.
Already missing a raft of first-18 players, the Hawks received more blows before the clash, with the late withdrawls of tall defenders Joe Packard and Jordan Warren.
The weather nullified their absences, with both sides letting ascendency slip through their fingers as they struggled to grip the wet ball.
West had the majority of possession, but were made to work hard for its two opening quarter goals.
LIons showed their class when they got their hands on it, especially Jordan Fuller, whose set shot from beyond the 50-metre arc provided the early highlight.
But the Lions’ class was bottled by West, and it was only uncorked occasionally, thanks to a Hawks forward press locking the ball in its half of Central Oval.
It was the general theme for the contest, with West’s ferocious tackling and superior endeavour winning against the occasional flurry of silky movement from Lions.
West big man Tyron Warren had no issue with the wet weather, despite coming in under an injury cloud and murdering some early passes by foot.
His long bomb from outside 50 sent the wet ball sailing over the goal umpire’s head, and was arguably more impressive than his set shot on the boundary the previous week.
Ray Stapleton continues to get better towards the pointy end of the season, backing up his match-winning performance against Central with five of his side’s nine majors on Saturday.
His fifth was the sealer, stretching West’s lead beyond three goals deep in the final quarter.
The Lions’ organised ball movement, already suffering because of the conditions, was nullified by desperate and frantic efforts from the Hawks when the ball was in the opposition’s hands or in dispute.
Spurts of the Lions’ usual class came largely thanks to the exciting Luke Patterson and fill-in skipper Kurtis Edwards.
Both worked tirelessly all day and kept the Lions in the contest until the dying stages.