Voss the boss as Lions down Eagles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Voss the boss as Lions down Eagles

By Laine Clark 29/03/2009 12:38:49 AM Comments (0)

His AFL coaching career may have only just begun but Michael Voss already appears to have mastered one art - the halftime spray.

Because whatever Voss said at the main break worked a treat as the Lions picked themselves off the canvas to pull off a stirring 14.11 (95) to 13.8 (86) comeback win over West Coast Eagles in their AFL season opener.

By rights, Voss should have been in the Eagles quarters at the Gabba on Saturday night after initially signing on as an assistant to West Coast head coach John Worsfold for 2009.

And by the second quarter Voss would have been forgiven for wishing he was, as the Eagles took complete control to lead by 38 points.

However, the teams appeared to have swapped guernseys after halftime as the Lions roared in the third quarter to kick nine goals to two and snatch a 16 point lead by the final break.

Voss was then made to sweat it out - along with the 26,800-strong crowd - as the Lions failed to kick a goal in the final term.

But they held on to ensure three-time premiership-winning captain Voss made a perfect start to his AFL coaching career.

But Voss had plenty of other reasons to smile.

Small forward Rhan Hooper was not exactly Mr Popularity in the pre-season after being fined a whopping $40,000 for persistent breaches of his playing contract.

However, Hooper was mobbed by delirious teammates at the Gabba on Saturday night as he provided the third quarter spark with three goals in quick succession.

While Hooper appeared determined to snap up his last chance at the Lions to kick four goals on Saturday night, Voss would have been just as encouraged by boom draftee Daniel Rich's AFL debut.

It would be fair to say big things are expected from Rich.

In a not-so-subtle reminder, Rich was handed the No.10 guernsey before his first game by the last man to wear it, for 318 games no less, - none other than Lions legend Marcus Ashcroft.

Rich became only the third first-year player to make a round one debut in Brisbane Lions history.

Yet Rich showed experience beyond his years in a composed debut on Saturday night with 21 classy touches.

Also for the Lions, Travis Johnstone had an amazing 37 touches and Luke Power 35.

For the Eagles, Mark LeCras appeared intent on crashing Voss' party, kicking six goals - five by halftime.

Asked how he handled being in the coach's box, Voss laughed: "I hated it at times.

"But what I really loved was competing again.

"It was a game in which we persisted. It was going to be one of those games where we just had to keep soldiering on.

"It wasn't great, it wasn't flashy, but I don't know too many first round games that are."

The signs were ominous early on for Voss.

He was forced to leave out Simon Black after the star midfielder failed to prove his fitness following a horror pre-season in which he has endured a gastro bug, a broken wrist, a back complaint and ankle surgery.

But ruckman Jamie Charman surprisingly started for the Lions despite recovering from a knee injury.

Voss said he made the tough call on Black by Friday afternoon.

"We could have potentially risked the next month of football for him (if he played)," Voss said.

"We needed 22 fit players out there. You only had to see the war of attrition in the last quarter where guys are tired, cramping, they are making mistakes - it was intense,"

Asked if Rich exceeded his expectations, Voss said: "He probably did, he's got many different strings."

The win extended an incredible run for the Lions - they have not lost a season opening match at the Gabba since 1998.

Much to Worsfold's frustration.

He admitted it was a game that the Eagles didn't deserve to win after leading by more than six goals in the second quarter.

"If you are in front at the end you deserve to win. You have hung in there enough to give yourself a chance to win - we didn't do enough over four quarters to win and that's what we have got to do," he said.

"We did well for three quarters and very, very, very, poorly for one - and that didn't balance out to be in front at the end."

LeCras kicked a staggering five goals to give the Eagles a 9.4 (58) to 5.3 (33) lead at half-time but a shellshocked West Coast found themselves behind 14.6 (90) to 11.8 (74) by the final break.

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