WIN number four has kept the finals hopes of South Rovers alive and kicking after round nine.
The Lions sit two games outside the top five but a 30-point win over Deakin University has lifted them back into contender territory.
The win was based on a solid first half from the Lions, who snuck out to a 10-point lead at the first break, which increased to 22 points at the long break.
They extended that to 42 points by the last change, before the Sharks kicked six goals to four in the last quarter to limit the damage. It was a third straight win for the Lions, with a four-goal, best-on-ground showing from 17-year-old Laughlin Cowell helping them over the line.
South Rovers coach Brendan Whelan said Cowell was an impressive performer.
“He played a couple of games last year and did a big pre-season this year,” Whelan said.
“He is a black belt in karate and he went on a five-week tour overseas at the start of the season, so we have only had him back for the last three weeks.
“He’s a good size and took a lot of marks for us at centre half-forward and gave us a strong target.”
Cowell was one of a number of scoring options for the Lions, with Nathan Krepp and Julian Claridge kicking three goals each.
It was a change in roles for Claridge, who has made his name as a defender over the course of a long career.
Claridge played in the centre and half-forward in his first foray away from the back line this season.
The Lions’ back line was able to continue to function despite his absence, with back pocket Dominic Bushell producing a solid performance.
Whelan said the win carried on the team’s good form and was a reward for the football they were playing.
“I was really pleased with the way we played. The Sharks have been a bit of a bogey team for us over the last few years,” he said.
“We had a really good start and that really helped us and we were pretty consistent all game.
“We’ve got Panmure this week so that will be a good test. They apply a lot of pressure so it will be interesting to see how we handle that.”
Deakin University assistant coach Matthew Lenehan said the Sharks were not able to match the Lions’ intensity.
“We saw it as a game we could win but we were beaten by a better team on the day,” Lenehan said.
“There was a lot more positives than the last few games. We have six weeks ahead where we think we can be very competitive and win some games.”
First-year player James Crawford was best for Deakin. He started in defence before going forward and kicking three goals.