Riverina Lions will enjoy their first home final in 15 years on Sunday as they look to secure a berth in the AFL Canberra women’s division two grand final.
The Lions have enjoyed a stellar season, winning 15 of 16 games for the year.
That will all count for very little on Sunday when they welcome Queanbeyan to McPherson Oval for the preliminary final.
Former Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong star Jed Lawton has taken the coaching reins this season and believes the ladies deserve to win through to next week’s decider.
“We’ve had a pretty good year,” Lawton said.
“We’ve only lost the one game, against ANU, and they have only lost the one game as well so it’s been pretty close.
“From what we started with, it’s been a really good effort. We lost six really good players from last year but I’ve just got a feeling we’re going better as a team this year.”
Lawton’s message has been simple in the lead up to this week’s opening final.
“I’m confident but we don’t need to do anything different because it’s a final,” he said.
“The only difference is the stakes are higher, if you lose it’s all over.
“The main thing we’ve got to do is when we get opportunities to score, we’ve got to score. And also win it around the contest, which we’ve been pretty good at this year.”
The Lions will look to league best and fairest winner, Eliza Oates, for a big performance in the midfield, along with experienced campaigners Kristin Ireland and Amy Coote.
Lawton says his ‘G-Train and Al-Express’, Georgina Bennett and Alex Lucas, have been brilliant in defence, while young players Millie Gentle and Emma Caldwell have also impressed as the year’s gone on.
Lawton has also enjoyed being back coaching this year at the Lions and praised the players for their commitment and love of the game.
“It’s been good, they’re a funny lot,” he said.
“I can’t fault their commitment, travelling to Canberra every second week. Just the overall experience of it, they’re just so thankful for everything. They bring their own tape, pay their own way, it reminds you what it’s all about.”
The Lions take on Queanbeyan at 10am at McPherson Oval on Sunday.