Panthers Overpower the Cats for Premiership Glory
By TERRY WILSON
MORNINGSIDE are the champions of the QAFL for the 10th time after they downed Broadbeach in a low-scoring grand final at Yeronga on Saturday.
Lessons learnt from a 50-point hiding they copped from the Cats in the final round of home-and-away fixtures provided the necessary motivation for the Panthers to turn that loss into a memorable 8.11 (59) to 7.8 (50) victory.
It was hard and tough and the Panthers revelled in the situation as they maintained extreme pressure on the Cats, who had been so free-flowing and free-scoring all season.
For example, Broadbeach kicked 805 points during the regular season. Morningside kicked 689 points. And the Cats were unbeaten going into the weekend.
So it was clear that the Panthers had to do something special to restrict their grand final rivals’ scoring power.
That they did to perfection and coach Clint Watts said that final-round hiding they copped at Subaru Oval was an important part of pre-GF planning.
“When we played Broadbeach at Broadbeach we went in after the game and said ‘they just showed us everything’ and we believed that.
“We were up and about after that game because we felt they’d thrown the kitchen sink at us. So we planned, we planned and eventually we were just too good on the day.”
Despite the closeness of the final score, the Panthers never let go after, at one stage in the second quarter, they trailed by 16 points.
But by half-time they were back in front eight points up and they held on to that margin as they systematically choked down the usually free-flowing Gold Coast side.
“We thought if we stayed in it long enough, keep applying the pressure, it would come,” said Watts.
“In that second quarter when we were challenged but we got back on top by the back end of it.
“We went in (to the change rooms at half-time) and we were full of belief. We knew they were going to throw a punch early in the third and we had to withstand the pressure, just go along and stay in the game.
“We kicked the ball to the right spots and I think we got them at their own game a little bit – and that’s the pleasing thing for the boys.”
Whereas the Cats had very few stand-outs on the day – most of their bigger names had little or no impact on proceedings – the Panthers had contributors everywhere.
The best was Matt Payne, a superstar according to Watts, who was named Joe Grant Medal winner for best on ground.
The champion rover was wearing three medals at game’s end. One was for the J.A. Grogan Medal, his third such honour, a second was the premiership medallion and the third was the Joe Grant Medal (best onground). The defence of the Panthers was superb, an area where Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds and Ben Kethro stood out.
Then there was Reuben William, a former Brisbane Lions rookie, who kicked three goals; and there was excitement machine Blake Coleman (two goals); ruckman Peter Mollison; and forwards Luke Edwards and Matt Hammelmann.
Victory also gave coach Watts his first flag as a coach, although he had won seven 10 grand finals as a player.
In the Broadbeach camp coach Craig O’Brien was obviously disappointed and said the Panthers ‘just wanted it more’ on a tight ground.
“We had a lot of guys who didn’t want to put their heads over the ball – it was obvious,” he said.
“And a couple of 50-50 decisions went against us at crucial times.
“Still, we can’t complain. We’ve had a good year but we just got found out when it came to the pointy end of it.”
Veteran Josh Searl, playing his 150th seniors game for the club, was best for the Cats, along with Tyrone Armitage and teenager Aiden Fyfe.
The loss in the seniors completed, dare we say it, a Cat-astrophic day for Broadbeach, who were hoping to emulate the deeds of the club’s 1996 glory day when they won all three grades in the Gold Coast competition.
Early on Saturday at Yeronga the Cats’ colts led by six goals during the third quarter and by five goals at three-quarter time but were overrun by Palm Beach Currumbin, who won by 12.10 (82) to 9.8 (62) on the back of an eight-goal final term by the Lions.
Then came the Reserves and Broadbeach fell again, losing 9.10 (64) to 9.2 (56).