NOOSA coach Wayne Fletcher refused to use an extended bus trip from the Sunshine Coast as a contributing in the demise of the Pineapple Hotel Cup champions against Palm Beach-Currumbin on Saturday.
By Terry Wilson
Gold Coast Bulletin
What is usually a two-hour journey from the tip of the Sunshine Coast to Salk Oval was stretched to almost three hours after an accident on the M1 near Beenleigh, a delay that forced the start of the qualifying final to be put back from 2pm to 2.45pm.
But there was no way Fletcher was blaming the extended stay on the bus for the 11.11 (77) to 8.14 (62) loss to the Lions.
“That’s the way it goes,” Fletcher said.
“We’ve had to do the same before when we came down here and won, so it’s no excuse for the way we played.
“We just lacked consistency with our efforts over the four quarters.
“I suppose at the start we were a bit flat. It took us a while to get up and get going.
“But I’m definitely not going to blame the trip. Palm Beach had to sit around and wait for us. We were stuck on a bus, they were stuck here.
“We had time to get ourselves ready for it. We were a bit flat early and whether that was because of the bus trip I’m not sure.
“We know what is required to win games and we need to be consistent with those efforts and implementing what we know we need to do to win.”
PBC started like a house on fire, putting on 5.2 to 0.4 with the first-quarter wind at their backs and producing a classy running style.
But, as is Noosa’s wont, they came back and closed down that run. They always do, especially in finals, and at one stage in the fourth term they crept to within a goal of the Lions, who looked like being overrun.
PBC had led by 28 points at quarter-time, by 23 at half-time and by 27 at the last break.
When big forward Danny Brewster, unsighted until then, fired up with four goals in 14 minutes of the final term, the Noosa comeback was in full roar.
But this time, unlike a few occasions this year when they surrendered meekly, the Lions dug deep and had the final four scoring shots of the match.
“To the boys’ credit, the way they fought it out in the last quarter was pleasing,” PBC coach Daryn Cresswell said.
“But there is still a lot of work to do.”
PBC surprised when Brent Rynehart, Beau Runnalls and Brad Hewat all ran out despite not being named by the Lions on Friday.
Cresswell said Bryce Perry-Bolt, Jake Smart and Martin Curtis, all originally named to play, were late withdrawals, two of them with injuries and Smart with personal issues.
The work still to do that Cresswell was referring to was the inability of the Lions to bury the Tigers on the scoreboard.
“We struggled with our midfield and particularly our forward line,” he said. “We had 57 entries for 10 marks and that’s not good.
“Every time ball was up there it came out too quickly.
“But another pleasing thing was that our usually better players did not play well. Drake, Emblem, Bourke, blokes like that did not play well at all yet we were able to get across the line.”
Underrated Blake Schneider continued to emerge as a key Lion, racking up 31 possessions on a half-back flank to be best for the winners.
“He just cleaned up all day,” Cresswell said. “And Luke Sicka did a great job on Todd Panoho. Noosa ended up putting Panoho down back.”
Other stars for the Lions were Mick Atkinson, Brent Pearson and Hewat.
Noosa’s best two were standouts Owen Bailey on a half-back flank and on-baller Caleb Isles, along with key defenders Jason Boydle and Ryley Buntain, who were largely responsible for dousing whatever firepower the Lions may have thought they had.