Royals are counting the costs of their upset win over an in-form Mt Barker, with star playmaker Jayson Ford set for an extended stint on the sidelines.
A resurgent Lions side claimed a spirited 34-point win against the Bulls at Sounness Park in round 11 of the Great Southern Football League on Saturday, in a match that had plenty of drama.
Ford was influential with two majors before coming from the field and he underwent surgery on Sunday. He’ll miss multiple weeks, putting the remainder of his season in doubt, while forward Chandler Askevold-McDonald was reported for a bump in the final term and will face the GSFL tribunal this week.
The Bulls’ six-game winning streak came to an end at home as the Lions led at at every change and outscored their opposition five goals to two in the second half to set up their sixth win of the season.
The upset result leaves the Lions two games and percentage adrift of the top two with four rounds to play.
Lions’ Nic Ashford provided a superb target in the forward line, booting five goals in the 14.12 (96) to 9.8 (62) triumph and he was awarded the Think Mental Health Round match ball.
Royals coach Andrew Ruck said his side’s early scoreboard pressure was vital.
“They hammered us a bit and we sort of just held them off,” he said.
“We started well and those early goals really helped us I think.
“They had three or four of their best out but in saying that, we probably had three or four of our better players out too.
“It was just a really good game of footy . . . it was good to get the win.
“I thought it was Powelly’s (Nathan Powell) best game in a while, it was good to see him get back to some form.”
Bulls’ Keegan Berry struck first, but Ashford converted two early goals to set the tone for the Lions.
After a battle for ascendancy, Ford snapped two wonderful majors late in the first quarter to put the visitors up by five points at the first change.
Askevold-McDonald found the big sticks early in the second but the reliable Lincoln East popped up to stem the flow for the home side.
The Lions were left reeling after Ford was helped from the ground following a heavy collision with Bulls’ Darcy Wallinger mid-way through the second term.
But Ashford again emerged late in the quarter, sidestepping his defender to set up a Rory Luscombe snap before converting one of his own shots on goal shortly after as the Lions went into the main break 15 points ahead.
With the weather conditions worsening, the home side were buoyed by an early Camball McMahon set shot but Ashford added another immediately after.
Bulls’ Josh Price then had an opportunity to cut the margin back to nine points but failed to convert.
The ball went quickly up the other end and a terrific piece of roving from David Parker resulted in a snap that put the visitors up by 20 points at the final change.
Goals to Connor Lazar, Ashford and Askevold-McDonald sealed the win for the visitors who have now beaten the Bulls twice this season.
Bulls coach David Johnson lamented his teams inability to match the Lions pressure.
“The game was disappointing, we didn’t bring the required effort and strayed from the way we want to play too often,” he said.
“Royals brought a good level of intensity and we failed to match it.
“We lost Joel Gray, Dylan Gowdie and Rhys Hogg before the game which hurt our midfield, with little or no rotations.
“We just have to get back on the horse and reload for next week.
“Having those guys back plus Mitch Jackson and hopefully Sam Lehmann, we will bring a different game to what we delivered on Saturday.”
Askevold-McDonald was yellow carded for a head high bump on Bulls’ Kobi Williams.
He was placed on report by the umpires for bumping or making forceful contact to an opponent front-on and was offered a two-week penalty.
The Lions will challenge the ban at the GSFL tribunal.
Williams suffered concussion and didn’t play the remainder of the game.
Brayden and David Parker were prolific through the middle of the ground alongside Ryan Kinnear and Cameron Allison.
Lions’ Nathan Powell also impressed in a gruelling battle with Bulls’ David Stone.
Despite the Lions midfield ascendancy, Josh and Scott Price toiled hard in the Bulls’ engine room while Lee Pavlovich and Sebastian Ballard soaked up the pressure in defence for the losing side.