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NEAFL Match Report: v Redlands

The Redland Bombers have produced their first win of the season in emphatic fashion, making the most of a first quarter blitzkrieg to stun the Brisbane Lions by 13 points at Tidbold Park on Saturday afternoon.

The early drizzly conditions didn’t suit a Lions side that contained seven players standing at 195cm and above, Redland bursting out of the blocks full of running and ready to win the hard ball, a 37-point quarter time lead and late goals when the game was in the balance proving enough for the Bombers to hang on 17.15 (117) – 16.8 (104) winners.

Redland procured 12 of their 17 goals from small forwards and midfielders, Aaron Christensen starring with four majors and captain courageous Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds outstanding with 26 disposals and eight tackles.

Former Lion Jackson Paine, former Lions Academy member Soul Cormick and club stalwart Matt Thomson all booted three goals.

After the home side dominated the first term 6.8 to 1.1 the second and third quarters were shoot-outs, the Lions gradually chipping away at the Bombers lead and wrestling the momentum back in their favour.

Early in the third quarter it looked like they might overrun the Bombers as Matt Hammelmann came to life, kicking 2.1 in the space of three minutes on his way to a bag of five goals.

Goals to Matt Thomson and Clay Cameron steadied the ship for Redland, taking a 27-point lead into the final change.

But the Lions kept coming, Jono Freeman drawing first blood of the final stanza before Corey Lyons streamed inside 50 unopposed to kick a goal.

When Matt Hammelmann clunked another big pack mark and kicked truly, the margin was back to just nine points.

Luke Rogerson had a chance to stymy the Lions momentum but pulled the kick to the left, before Brisbane stormed up the other end and Oscar McInerney tumbled a punt through from a pack to bring the margin back to just four points.

Sam Copland and Jono Freeman both had opportunities to put the Lions in front for the first time all game, both opting for dribble kicks and both missing to the near side.

It was as close as Brisbane would get for the remainder of the match, Matt Thomson eventually kicking the sealer in the 30th minute of the final term to the jubilation of the Redland faithful, winners at last in 2017.

Redland coach Leigh Harding, a former coach of the Lions NEAFL side, was pleased with the victory.

“(It was a) super effort… we’ve been building to this for a couple of weeks, first four weeks weren’t what we were expecting but at the bye we got a break and reassessed what we were doing.

“(Brisbane) used so much energy trying to get back that we ended up falling over the line.”

He was full of praise for the way the Bombers smalls were able to take advantage of their match ups.

“Even if it was dry we knew we could execute something against what was quite a tallish team, we knew if we could get that ball on the ground we’d do some damage.

“Our young kid Jai Lyons (18 disposals, three inside 50s) has only played two games out on the wing being able to impact the game and then obviously when you look at our smalls, they were the ones that have done damage up forward.”

Damian Steven (22 disposals, seven tackles, seven clearances) was a vital cog for Redland, while Jack Rolls (19 disposals, four tackles) had a triumphant return against the club that chose not to select him at the 2016 AFL draft.

Ryan Bastinac (32 disposals, nine clearances, six marks) and Rhys Mathieson (30 disposals, nine clearances, four inside 50s) staked their claims for elevation back into the senior side, but needed more help in a Lions midfield that ultimately lost out to a Redland brigade full of heart.

Blake Grewar received close attention from his former side, often set upon the instant the ball reached his hands, battling all day to finish with 15 disposals.

“Our start let us down, we knew that Redland were going to come out… they’ve been a really good defensive team, number one in the NEAFL for tackles and we knew they were going to bring the pressure early and we unfortunately weren’t able to absorb that,” said Lions coach Mitch Hahn.

“(At half time) I tried to put a bit of a rocket up the whole team in terms of the way we wanted to play and how we went about our footy.”

“After quarter time we started to fight back a little bit and we won the last three quarters on the scoreboard but the margin was too big at quarter time.”

He didn’t believe their tall line up and the greasy conditions in the first half played into the Bombers hands.

“I don’t think so… it wasn’t raining heavy, it only sprinkled just in the warm up. Towards the end of the game Matty Hammelmann was able to come in and kick five goals and Jono Freeman (Nine disposals, three marks, two goals) started to take a few marks on the back end.

“I think that they still had opportunities early on to be able to do that and didn’t take them.”

Despite the loss Brisbane retain 3rd spot on the ladder, but have been joined on four wins by Aspley who thrashed the GIANTS in Canberra.

The win hauls the Bombers off the bottom of the ladder, leapfrogging Southport on percentage, joining the Sharks and GIANTS on one win.

The Lions head into next week’s match against the GIANTS in Sydney having lost two in a row after winning their first four, while the Bombers’ breakthrough will have them buoyed for another home game next weekend against a reeling Canberra Demons.

REDLAND 6.8 11.11 14.14 17.15 (117)
1.1 7.2 11.5 16.8 (104)

Redland: A Christensen 4, J Paine 3, M Thomson 3, S Cormick 3, C Cameron 2, K Walsh, D Steven.
Lions: M Hammelmann 5, R William 3, J Freeman 2, O McInerney 2, R Dadds, C Ballenden, C Lyons, R Bastinac

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs