Darley fell just short of an opening round win against Wendouree in the Ballarat Cricket Association.
In a rematch of last season’s grand final, the game went down to the wire, but ended in the same result.
This time it was a lot a closer, with Wendouree winning by six runs.
Batting first, Wendouree made 8-203 off its 50 overs, with skipper Gavin Webb top scoring with 59.
Matthew Cape was the pick of the bowlers for the Lions, who were without their three Sri Lankan imports.
Cape took three wickets, while Ben Longhurst and Hayden Jamieson took two wickets each.
The Lions got off to the worst start in their innings, losing Zac Ticehurst for two.
They settled, before losing two quick wickets to put them behind the eight ball at 3-49.
The wickets continued to fall regularly leaving the Lions at 7-121 with a lot of work ahead if they were to pull off an upset win, with only their bottom four batsmen left.
The bottom order, led by youngster Mitchell Ward in his first XI debut, weren’t going to give up without a fight and pushed the Lions’ total towards the needed runs.
Unfortunately they ran out of time, finishing 9-197 off the 50 overs.
Ward finished 45 not out, while Cape completed a strong game making 45 to add to his three wickets.
East Ballarat and North Ballarat were the other two winners in the first grade opening round.
The Lions second XI got a first-up win, while the third side was beaten with two overs remaining.