Lions win war of the wounded

WEST Lions went west and conquered yesterday, rolling Narrabri in a see-sawing and injury-riddled Group 4 Cup clash.

The Lions skipped away to an early lead but the Blues reeled them in to hit the front with about 10 minutes to go.

But the Lions finished with a flurry to take the points – and their first for the season – 42-28. 

“It was a top win,” Lions captain-coach Chris Hunt said.

It was a bit of a war of  attrition, with both sides the walking wounded. The Lions were down to two on the bench with still about 22 minutes to go in the first half.

The Blues had injury problems even before the kick-off with half-back Justin Knight a late pullout after requiring his wisdom teeth out.

The injuries mounted up during the game, with Joseph Tago and Jake Rumsby both ending up at the hospital – Tago with a pectoral injury and Rumsby a shoulder injury.

The Lions played some great football in the first half and were up, Hunt thought, 22-10 at half-time.

“We stuck to our structure and built a bit of pressure through patient football and capitalised,” he said.

“The forwards did exactly what I expected of them and we’d done at training and the backs capitalised.” 

The break seemed to work against them, with the Blues coming out and scoring a few quick tries.

In one, Brandon Tago ran over about half of the Lions.

“Luckily we found our feet again and it swung around,” Hunt said. 

He said it was a matter of getting through a set of six without the Blues scoring.

“On the line I said to the boys we need to aim up for one set of six,” he said.

“We did and that’s when the momentum swung.

He said it was hard to single anyone out but thought Ben Jarvis, Shane Salvador and Thomas Iron up front had strong games.

James Blackburn also caused the Blues a few problems down the left side before he was injured, although he did end up having to return to the field.

The Blues were stretched a bit skinny and had two players backing up from the U18s and another two from second grade.

That wasn’t to take anything away from the Lions.

“Full credit to West. They were the walking wounded too,” coach John Rumsby said.

He said it was a little bit handling and a bit their options that allowed West to get on top.

Missing Knight hurt them, no disrespect to Trey Doolan who backed up from the U18s to fill in for him.

“We had to work a bit different to what we usually do,” Rumsby said.

He thought Brandan Tago was their best, if not the best on the field.

He also gave a mention to Doolan and Sam Sadler for stepping up from the 18s.

“They all played well. It was just hard on them,” Rumsby said.

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