A slow start proved costly for South Morang as its hopes of a Northern Football League division 3 premiership ended.
The Lions, who have been the surprise packet of the finals series, knew they needed to have everything go their way in the grand final against Panton Hill at Whittlesea Showgrounds on Saturday.
Panton Hill jumped out of the blocks and led by 37 points at quarter-time.
The Lions would get within three goals early in the third quarter, but that’s the closest they would come.
Panton Hill kicked a couple of quick goals to steady, winning, 11.13 (79)-5.9 (39).
Lions coach Gary Hall said things didn’t quite go to plan.
“It was pretty heavy conditions up there,” he said. “It was pretty much a carbon copy of last year in the preliminary final when they kicked the first five or six goals.
“We just couldn’t make up the ground.”
He said the closest the side got was early in the third quarter when Nathan Bell kicked a ripper.
Panton Hill quickly responded.
The Lions were dealt a blow mid-week with Tye Hall being ruled out of the game. In another setback, James Hewson pulled out before the game.
Hall said missing those two really hurt the side. “That hurt us to go in without them against a side that have had the year that they’ve had.
“We didn’t need setbacks like that. We needed everything to go our way.
“They [Panton Hill] deserved it and were the best team all season.”
Bell and Mitchell Kalpakis kicked two goals each for the Lions. Hall said the pair, who are both young players, were among the best and showed good signs standing up under pressure.
Luke Shelton was the other standout.
Despite falling short in the grand final, Hall said they would view this season as a success.
It’s the second time in three years the Lions have made the grand final.
While the senior side’s season is over, the under-19s are in their grand final next week, with a lot of young talent coming through the club.
“You have to keep knocking the door down,” Hall said. “Hopefully it will open soon.
“We played 49 players in seniors this year, which is a lot of players and a lot of experience.
“The finals experience is good for them.”
Hall said he would look to continue coaching for another season.
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