By Terry Wilson
Gold Coast Bulletin
It's not that the 2010-2011 champions have ever been dismissed as 2012 premiership candidates, it was the manner in which they disposed of the Magpies in their victory by 14.13 (97) to 9.14 (68).
They did it after a third stanza that netted them 7.2 to 3.3 and extended a half-time lead of one point to a four-goal lead.
The Magpies still finished as minor premiers and earned a home-ground advantage for the major semi-final in a fortnight.
But Noosa, in danger of slipping to fourth or fifth before the weekend, will now play Palm Beach-Currumbin at Salk Oval on the Gold Coast in the qualifying final next Saturday.
Beaten coach Peter McClennan had no excuses for the loss, conceding the Maggies were beaten `fair and square' on the day.
``Our stats for inside 50s showed we wasted the football. Noosa didn't,'' said McClennan.
The Magpies did not have key midfielder Ben Heffernan-Roper, central defender and forward Greg Lavey available and there was no pressure on them because they could not lose top finals spot.
But there is pressure on them now, even if McClennan is not overly concerned about what lies ahead of the club.
``I donít think our guys were not mentally prepared enough and they got beaten fair and square, end of story,'' he said.
``We've had two bad games all year, this one and one in the wet against Wilston-Grange.
``But am I worried? No.
``I'll work with the opportunity of having a week off, then we'll have everyone fit and primed for the major semi-final.''
As is the Noosa tradition under five years of Fletcher at the helm, it was an even performance across the board that highlighted the Tiger effort.
``It was an even game except for the third quarter, it was tough and both teams had a good crack at,'' Fletcher said.
``I was pretty rapt with an even performance across the field.
Fletcher does not subscribe to the theory that, had one or two results during the regular season gone the way of Noosa, the Tigers could have finished outright first or second.
``That's the way it goes,'' Fletcher said. ``You cant look back, you can't change what has happened. We can only control it going forward.''
For Noosa, half-back flanker David Welch, centre half-back Ryley Buntain and Nathan Winter in the middle were excellent and for the Magpies, Brenton Saunders on a wing and up forward, centre half-back Ed McDonnell, forward Alex Dickfos were the standouts.
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PALM Beach-Currumbin did arch Gold Coast rivals Surfers Paradise a favour of sorts by beating Wilston-Grange in an impressive performance at the latter's Sunline Oval on Saturday.
After downing the Gorillas by 19.12 (126) to 11.13 (79), the Lions earned a home-ground crack at premiers Noosa in the qualifying final on Saturday.
At the same time, the Grange's loss pushed them down to fifth and means a trip to their bogy ground Sir Bruce Small Park for next Sunday's elimination final after Surfers, as expected, thrashed Coolangatta.
Considering the Lions, with second spot sewn up, did not have a whole lot to play for, they went about things in a professional manner and the fact that they have a number of key players available for the Noosa showdown could lead to some interesting moments at match committee time later this week.
Coach Daryn Cresswell said all players came through Saturday's exercise unscathed, and he was afforded the luxury of resting James Drake and Jesse Derrick late in the clash.
But the selection headaches are to come with Matt Boyd, Sam Bourke, Martin Curtis, Bryce Perry-Bolt and Beau Runnalls all under consideration for next weekend.
Adding to the issue was the form of Blake Schneider on a half-back flank against the Grange. He was a late replacement for Boyd and starred to the extent Cresswell can not leave him out of the club's 22 for the qualifying final.
Angus Munro was also a standout on the other half-back flank and ruckman Michael I'Anson, who has come on in leaps and bounds since the national Country Carnival, also stood out with 16 marks and five goals.
For the Gorillas, skipper David Tough was again best, ahead of Dan Brittain on the ball and Stu Galloway.
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BURLEIGH may have a new coach for season 2013 but Mitch Ferguson is already planning ahead after his Mayne Tigers completed an encouraging season with a big win over Burleigh at Bill Godfrey Oval on Saturday.
Mayne made it nine wins for the season after their victory by 18.22 (130) to 8.9 (57), and Ferguson immediately turned his thought to next year and what the season's biggest improvers may achieve.
``Yes, I want to coach again because we come off a pretty low base of no wins in 2011,'' Ferguson said.
``I guess at this time of the year you can think about the losses and what might have been had we been able to pinch one more win.
``But I guess, in reality, apart from Surfers, we didn't beat a team above us on the ladder, although Grange beat us by a kick both times.
``We went all right against the top teams but we were maybe a couple of players short of getting to the next level.
``But we'll work on it. We've gone from zero (wins) to nine this year.''
Ferguson expects most of this year's roster to go around again next year, but is realistic enough to realise that some of his prime movers are not getting any younger.
``We do have five or six over 30 years of age, but I reckon we'll get another year or two out of them,'' he said.
``But the window is closing on those guys, premiership wise, and they have to work hard.''
After an even first quarter on Saturday, the Tigers took control and went from five points up at the first break to 35 ahead at half-timer.
Best for the winners were all midfielders Sam Paterson, Adam Stevenson and Ben Davies.
For the Bombers, Oliver Rennie, Chris Johns and Trent Stanaway were best.
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SURFERS did not get the third placing they were after, but will still play their first finals for a number of years with a home-ground advantage next weekend.
The Demons were way too good for wooden spooners Coolangatta on Saturday, winning by 30.16 (196) to 5.9 (39) at Len Peak Oval.
The win secured fourth spot for the finals and the Demons are now pitted against Wilston-Grange in the eliminator at Sir Bruce Small Park next Sunday.
Most pleasing for coach Beau Zorko was the manner in which his players finished the Blues off. Too many times this season the Demons have lacked the killer instinct, but it was definitely there for all to see as they rammed on 12 goals in the fourth quarter.
Forward Korey Fulton kicked 10 goals in the rout, taking him to a season total of 66, just five off the goalkicking leader, Western Magpie Anthony Corrie.
But it was midfielder Jesse Haberfield who won the nod for best on ground, ahead of Fulton and the former's 16-year-old brother Cassidy.
``Actually Cassidy and our first-gamer Troy Clark were both outstanding on opposite wings,'' said Zorko.
``It was a pleasing way to finish the preliminary rounds off because we made it a focus for the week that we had to roll into the finals with a full head of steam up.''
Coolangatta, who will have a new coach next year after the departure of two-term boss Neil McKay, were best served by Matt Vigus, Gerard Robinson and Jeremy Cross.
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ROGER Delaney cannot wait to see his young Maroochydore players develop next year and beyond but he will not be around to steer them again.
After Maroochy closed their season with a comfortable 16.12 (108) to 6.8 (44) win over Springwood at Fisherman's Road, Delaney confirmed it was his last match in charge.
``I told the club a month ago and the players last week that I couldn't go on,'' he said.
``It's more a time thing with my business and family.
``But I believe the Roos can be a top-five side, and I say that on the back of the development of young players because we'll have 20 or so under-18s eligible to come up.''
Summing up a season when the Roos, like Mayne, showed great improvement, Delaney said progress had been pretty good.
``We probably could have beaten Surfers (a draw) and we lost by a point to Mayne after being up all day.
``All of a sudden you're looking at seven wins or eight wins and remember we played all the top teams twice.
``So to finish off with such a good win, with a lot of young kids around, I think we've done really well.''
Highlighting what Delaney was talking about was the fact that, of Saturday's best-player list of six, three of them are aged either 19 or 20, they being Jack Gale, Dylan Weikhardt and Jaryd Hill.
``It has been tough, but rewarding, watching the club grow again,'' was Delaney's final words on his stint at Maroochydore, a club that at one stage last year looked like folding.
Springwood were never in the hunt on Saturday, trailing by 31 points at quarter-time as their severely undermanned side struggled.
The Pumas' best were Matt Preston-Smith, Mitchell Vasterink and Nick Tronc.