WEST Lions had the perfect start to a major semi final, slicing their way to a 24-nil lead inside 20 minutes as they cruised to a 56-24 victory over Wee Waa Panthers at Scully Park yesterday.
In a game marred by unruly behaviour from a small portion of the crowd that stopped the game midway through the second half, West Lions fullback Matt Nean orchestrated some wonderful tries whilst scoring four himself and kicking seven goals.
“He had a day out,” West coach Tony la Chiusa said.
“We had a game plan today – that was to give him, Brendan (Hunt), Mitch (Doring) and Chrissy (Hunt) as much room as possible.
“They are what we call our diamond.
“And the forwards all did their job perfectly.
“We also knew we would be a bit short in the legs after having a forfeit.
“But all the boys aimed up.
“Young Benny Jarvis, Latrell Hampton and Doro are still Under 18s but they all played great.
“Shane Salvador and Vids (Chis Vidler) were great too, especially as we started Scott Rolls on the bench and gave him about 10 minutes before we brought him off as a precaution.”
The Lions started brilliantly, Nean dummying his way over after just four minutes for the first of his four tries.
Then a simple inside play with Chris Hunt allowed Hunt to race over untouched before Nean went himself again to leave the Panthers grasping.
Another Nean break sent Chris Hunt in for his second and it was 24-nil after 20 minutes.
The Panthers did hit back with good tries to Scott Spencer and Brenton Cochrane but West was back in when Nean twice dummied before sending his brother Sean over for a 30-12 half-time lead.
Cochrane did set up Spencer early in the second half but then centre Phil Beaton set up Matt Nean for his third try before the fullback scored a marvellous try 15 minutes in.
After scrambling a ball back from a Wee Waa attack 20m out from his line, he then ran the full length to beat three or four defenders with fends.
That gave them a 40-18 lead but Nean couldn’t convert as a small portion of the crowd, and one absolute idiot, jumped the fence onto the playing arena.
The drunks finally left the ground when police arrived.
Lions secretary Mick Lawler said at least two of the spectators would be banned for life.
Meanwhile, back on the field Nean finally converted his try after a seven-minute break.
Wee Waa prop Leroy Taylor charged through some poor West defence to make it 40-24 with 13 minutes left but the Lions scored three more times through Salvador, Sean Nean and Phil Beaton to post a comprehensive win.
La Chiusa had the luxury of giving Matt Nean and Vidler early marks as well.
He also thought lock Shaugn Stevenson, who was also back from injury, worked hard and got through plenty of tackles.
“The most pleasing thing for me was that we stuck to the game plan,” he said.
“If we do that we score tries.
“There’s so much attacking ability in this side. We just need to control the ball.”
The Lions now have the luxury of sitting back and watching Norths and Wee Waa hammer it out in this Sunday’s preliminary final at Wee Waa.