AFTER three big wins from three matches, Inverloch-Kongwak warranted favouritism in the ‘match of the day’ against Stony Creek on Saturday.
But with three honourable losses, the Lions rated some respect too and they certainly earned it after half time.
However, while they went on to win the game with a character-filled fight back in the third quarter and a dour defensive effort in the last, it wasn’t without cost with key on-baller Josh Schelling copping a serious shoulder injury late in the third quarter.
IK’s Rohan Clark will also be out for two months with a dislocated elbow.
The match started evenly enough with the teams well matched around the ball and there was a fierce contest from end to end as players came to terms with their opponents.
There was only one goal apiece in the first quarter to Toby Mahoney of IK and Adam Myhal of Stony.
But when IK’s Josh Clottu opened the second term with a nice snap for goal you got the impression that the Sea Eagles were ready to put their stamp on the game.
Josh Schelling was getting the better of IK’s Clint McCaughan in the ruck duels but IK seemed better equipped to get it away from the centre bounce and stoppages with the likes of Eric McPhie and Craig O’Reilly doing well. If it wasn’t for the efforts of Julian Stone, coming in quickly off a wing, they’d have had a more clear avenue to attack.
IK’s Dale Lawton and Dylan Clark worked the ball forward with Rohan Clark also busy and they seemed to be moving the ball better but a fine tackle by Dylan Zuidema held them at bay. Finally Tom Wyatt to Dylan Clark for a running goal was all class and they’d built a nice lead halfway through the second quarter.
At this stage IK had McCaughan, Clottu, O’Reilly and Reid on the ball opposed to Schelling, Dylan Zuidema, Taylor and Mackie for Stony but it was IK which got the next through Toby Mahoney.
Billows and Cross rebounded it forward and it looked promising when Casey and Hender combined but the shot just missed.
Stony Creek’s players were certainly matching it with IK in general play but a few skill errors, especially not hitting targets by hand and foot, was costing them when they should have been well clear of defence.
Dyl Clark kicked a point as IK wasted chances to kick clear and a late goal by Stony Creek’s Jacob Byrnes, off the deck from a fair way out, was just the tonic needed.
The Lions made a few adjustments at half time, got some constructive criticism from their coach Stephen Coats and they came out more desperate than the visitors, who after some good performances in the opening weeks, just expected things to happen.
Jeremy Baskaya led the way up forward with two of Stony’s four goals for the third quarter; Jack Stuart and Jacob Brydon were other goal kickers as they crucially put on four goals to one by the last change.
Ash Zuidema picked up mobile forward Josh Clottu and quietened his influence and with McMillan missing with illness, their scoring options seemed to have been closed down, especially with Andrew Logan dominating at centre half back.
Everyone lifted for Stony; Jimmy Monaghan on a flank, Julian Stone on his wing, Jack Stuart at half forward was lively, Aaron Purvis; you could include them all.
IK had lost the momentum and when Brydon kicked an early one in the last quarter for Stony, they showed they were going to be hard to run down.
Stony kicked two goals to one by IK in the last quarter which featured a dour defensive effort front to back. The win over an improved IK indicates the Lions May yet taste finals’ action this year.
Full coverage of the weekend football in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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