IT is difficult to think that the current top five teams in the Pineapple Hotel Cup will not be the ones contesting finals action later in the year.
On Saturday, when the top five sides played those occupying the lower rungs of the ladder, results left, in order, Sandgate (28 points), Wilston-Grange (28), Western Magpies (24), Noosa (20) and Palm Beach-Currumbin on the money to play in the finals.
Heading into the half-way mark of the 16-round season, it is going to be difficult for those sides out of the top five to get some September action.
Palm Beach-Currumbin’s hot streak of high scores was cut somewhat when they beat Surfers Paradise in their Gold Coast derby, the Lions scoring by 34 points after an even first half.
Co-leaders Sandgate and Wilston-Grange had comfortable wins over Maroochy-Northshore and Burleigh respectively, the Western Magpies coughed up a surprise early lead but still beat Mayne, while up on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa overpowered Coolangatta.
By Terry Wilson
PALM Beach-Currumbin co-captain Matt Carroll made a blistering comeback from injury, featuring prominently in the Lions’ success against Gold Coast rivals Surfers Paradise in their local derby at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday.
Carroll, resuming after overcoming hamstring problems, was to the fore at the business end of the clash which PBC took by 13.14 (92) to 7.14 (56).
That scoreboard suggests a comfortable win by the Lions, but that was far from the case because, up to the latter stages of the third quarter, then in the final stanza, the Demons worried the life out of their Coast rivals.
Carroll, extremely dangerous near goals, kicked two six-pointers and set up two others as he and class midfielder Brad Hewat (five goals) broke open what had been an arm-wrestle.
Hewat was moved from the midfield to a half-forward flank where he dominated as PBC kicked 9.5 to 4.7 after half-time.
Before then, the Surfers pre-match plan of shutting down PBC’s run through the corridor had worked beautifully.
The Demons led 2.3 to 1.3 at quarter-time, then trailed 3.7 to 4.9 at the big break before the Lions gradually asserted their superiority.
The conversion factors of Hewat and Carroll was something the Demons lacked, said beaten coach Rob Martin.
“In the third quarter we just couldn’t find an avenue to goal,” said Martin. “Palm Beach just finished a bit better up front.
“At the end of the day we probably had more inside 50s than them.”
At least the Demons showed Palm Beach can be put off their game by sustained pressure, especially down the guts of the ground and it took the visitors a lot of hard work to finally break the shackles.
“We tried to make it that way, to make them kick to contests rather than having things all their own way.”
PBC assistant coach Darren Beaufoy agreed the pressure of the Demons was something his players had not experienced for some time, coming off three huge wins against bottom sides.
“It was a great day for footy but there were quite a few errors,” said Beaufoy of the intensity close-in.
“It was not the greatest game, so full credit to Surfers because they were much stronger than the opposition we played in our last few games.
“By my count Surfers finished ahead of us in clearances at stoppages,” he said.
“And I guess our boys were not used to kicking to contests, at least not in our last three games.
“A couple of goals late in the third quarter made us feel more comfortable.”
The result pushed Palm Beach into outright fifth spot on the ladder, three wins off the pace being set by Sandgate and Wilston-Grange. The Lions play Sandgate at home next weekend in a huge match for the club.
Away from Carroll and Hewat, the Lions had full-back Scott Vis in commanding form at full-back and co-captain Angus Munro also stood out in the defensive zones.
Forme Broadbeach colt Ryan Dienjes was a clear best for Surfers, his work in the middle especially pleasing for Martin.
Teenager Brody Haberfield again produced in roles on a half-forward flank and on-ball, while captain Jacob Clark put in a lot of effort as a ruck-rover.