South Morang has taken huge steps forward this season despite falling at the final hurdle in Northern Football League division 3.

Playing in their first grand final since 2011, the Lions stuck with Banyule until the final quarter on Saturday, but couldn’t find consecutive goals when needed.

Banyule took home the win and premiership with a 13.17 (95)-10.10 (70).

Lions coach Gary Hall said he was proud of what his side had achieved this season, but in the end they couldn’t quite match it with the Bears.

“They gave it their all and I’m really proud of them,” he said.

“The second quarter was a killer. Bojan Marinkovic got a yellow card and they got a goal, and then got another shot on goal. They kicked two goals in a minute which was a bit of a killer.

“We thought if we kicked the first goals of the last quarter … we might be in with a chance and their confidence would drop. Every time we were able to get a goal, they kicked one.”

Jake Potter down back was the Lions’ best, continuing the form he had shown all season.  Daniel Caruso and Nathan Tassell, in just his second senior game, also stood out.

Hall said that while the side was disappointed with the loss, there were plenty of positives to take from the season, with the players in the early days of their  journey together.

The Lions claimed the minor premiership, returned to the winners’ list in finals and lost only to one team for the year, Banyule.

“We have such a young group,” he said. “Fourteen or 15 of the boys are 21 or under. The future at the club is bright.

“It’s been a step in the right direction in the 15 weeks I’ve had them and to make a grand final with the age group they are.”

Hall, who took over as coach early in the season when the club decided to part ways with Dean Grainger, will coach.

“I signed on for two years,” he said. “We need to get bigger and stronger.  We had smaller bodies and I think it took a toll after a while.”

South Morang ponder its defeat. Picture Damian Visentini

South Morang ponder its defeat. Picture Damian Visentini