Mulwala soured Finley’s day on Saturday, handing the home side a 53-point defeat as it marked Kyle Russell’s 200th club game.
Playing in front of a strong home crowd in very windy conditions, the Cats struggled throughout the entire match to suffer their second loss in as many weeks.
Mulwala, fresh off a bye the week before, appeared to be the stronger of the two sides right from the start and led at every change.
Finley’s Mitch Ryan settled straight back into the backline in his first game of the season combining well with Paul Massingham and Nick Robertson.
As they have done in past weeks, many of the Cats’ attacking moves were created from the back end.
With Tim Mead and Tim McKenzie both late outs for the home side, midfielders Robb Jewell, Zec Cuppens and Angus Robertson tried hard all day but couldn’t get the better of the clearances despite Lachy Hawkins and Tom Doyle’s dominance in the ruck.
Cam Robertson was used at both ends of the ground in an attempt to give the home side a lift.
A half-time deficit of 18 points was soon blown out to 62 points by three quarter time with Finley having few answers to the Lions’ seven goal onslaught.
Despite the loss there were positive signs with young forward Duncan Clarke (three goals) continuing to improve and Sam Orro, Nick Lyons and Liam Osborne also continuing to impress at senior level.
Final score, Mulwala 13.10 (88) to Finley 4.11 (35).
Finley coach Rob Daniel said it was his side’s worst performance of the year so far.
‘‘Mulwala used the ball well in the windy conditions and we weren’t able to adapt (to the conditions),’’ he said.
‘‘The Lions ran harder, were first to the ball and were on top of us for the full 120 minutes.
‘‘It was very disappointing we weren’t able to give Kyle (Russell) a win in his milestone game. He’s a much loved player at the club and he’s always been quite committed, whether it be showing up for training or helping at working bees, he’s just a genuine clubman.
‘‘Hopefully it was just a bad day. We’ll need to try and bounce back against Rumbalara in a couple of weeks.
‘‘Rumba are travelling really well this year and are always tough to beat at home.’’
The Cats have a break with the interleague bye this weekend, with their away game against Rumbalara to be played on May 26.
Finley captain Lachy Small has been selected in the 25-man Murray Football League interleague squad to play against the Gippsland League in Moe on Saturday.
The squad will be trimmed to 23 players later in the week however the in-form Small is expected to be in the final side.
Finley is well represented in the MFL’s under 18 squad with six players selected — Matthew Wilson, Zec Cuppens, James McCaw, Taylor Kleinschmidt, Luke Bramley and Duncan Clarke .
Unfortunately Wilson will miss the clash after injuring his ankle in the loss to Mulwala on Saturday.
Jason Limbrick will coach the senior squad assisted by James Hazelman and Josh Noonan, while Adrian Daly, Levi Power and Mick Taylor will share the role for the under-18s.