The Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault Lions booked their place in the 2017 South West Football League grand final on Sunday with a commanding 36 point win over the Bunbury Bulldogs.
Coming off a week’s rest, Bunbury started like they meant business. Winning the ball out of the ruck, Travis Justins was quick to bang home the opening goal for the home side.
But it didn’t take the Lions long to find their feet. Calling on the momentum that saw them sweep the Collie Eagles aside the previous weekend, HBL utilised strong run and carry to pepper the ball inside their attacking 50.
A set shot from a free kick gave Kristin Thornton the Lion’s first major with Matt Martin quick to hit back at the other end.
A silly turnover from the Lions gave Justins his second goal right in front before Ty Anderson snapped a hurried shot around his body in heavy traffic for six points.
Laughter sounded around the ground when Bunbury’s Connor Walker pulled Thornton’s shorts down in retaliation for a late tackle.
At the first break, the Bulldogs were ahead 3.1.19 to 2.5.17.
Four straight behinds, including a set shot from Dylan Heasman that hit the post gave the Lions the lead early in the second term before Bunbury’s Patrick Farrant flew high over a pack to take a mark-of-the-year contender.
Brayden Prentice, James Hawksley, Heasman and David Newman all added majors for HBL before Thornton soccered a fantastic goal from 35 metres out to put the Lions 31 points ahead.
Kane Bumann briefly left the field in the second term with a blood rule while HBL’s Jack Quinn copped a yellow card after a scuffle close to the benches.
Bunbury’s Brett Peake managed to peg back one late goal but at half time, the Lions led 7.11.53 to 4.4.28.
After the main break, Thornton opened with a quick goal while Justins got his third against the flow.
A stunning snap from Lloyd Beever had the Lions’ fans cheering and a Luke Slater goal helped HBL stretch their lead to 36 points at the final change – 10.12.72 to 5.6.36.
With a grand final spot on the line, Aidan Clarke tried to rally the Bulldogs with the first goal of the final term but scoring shots ground to a halt with both sides furiously defending.
Jarrad Watson kicked his first goal of the match in the last term before Matt Martin kicked his second.
A beautiful goal from David Newman just outside the 50 metre arch after the final siren, sealed HBL’s victory 12.13.85 to 7.7.49.
The Lions now enjoy a week off while Bunbury have a second chance to make the decider when they face the Harvey Bulls next Sunday.