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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Lions coach expects more support for big man Clarke

Subiaco coach Beau Wardman has gone into bat for Zac Clarke, saying the veteran ruckman needs more support from his teammates.

The 33-year-old has been one of the best players in the WAFL this season but faded in the second half after a strong start in the Lions’ elimination final loss to Peel Thunder on Saturday.

Wardman told Sports Breakfast Peel’s ruck tag team of Liam Reidy and Riley Smith would make life hard for any of the competition’s big men.

“I didn’t think we supported him in terms of our tight defence. We lost a bit of balance around our stoppage,” Wardman said.

“We’ve always said we can’t be reliant on Zac Clarke to be the difference in whether we win or lose, we’ve got to have 21 other guys that are prepared to buy in and play consistently.

“We expect that Zac will rebound this week, but we expect our other guys to really stand up around him.”

The Lions were left to rue missed opportunities in the 10-point loss to the Thunder, letting the game slip despite leading by 28 points at half-time and again hitting the front in red time in the final term.

Wardman said the result reflected the closeness of the competition and he was largely pleased with his team’s performance.

“I thought the way that we started was outstanding. We probably just didn’t take a couple of moments that we needed to, some execution in that second quarter and the margin probably could’ve been a little better at half-time,” he said.

“Our pressure and our contest game, particularly in the first half, was really strong. The boys came to play in the last quarter after being under siege for that 15-minute period in the third quarter.

“We take a lot of positives out of how we approached the game … we’ve got to move forward pretty quickly and that was our message after the game.”

Wardman’s side will welcome elimination final winners Claremont to Leederville Oval on Sunday, with the two-time premiership coach saying they knew what to expect from last year’s runners-up.

“We know that Claremont like to play a running game,” he said.

They’ve got a really strong and experienced midfield with Eastland and Bolton and Rogers going in there probably more than they have throughout the season.

“They’re going to present a really good challenge, but we’re excited for it. We know if we can play a similar brand to what we did on Saturday, we’re going to put ourselves right in the contest.”

The semi-final clash between the Lions and the Tigers gets underway at 2:10pm on Saturday and is being broadcast live on 91.3 SportFM.

IMAGE: The West Australian

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