THE Small Park monkey still rides on the back of the Wilston-Grange Gorillas after the injury-plagued Brisbane club was bundled out of the Pineapple Hotel Cup by Surfers Paradise..
By Terry Wilson
Gold Coast Bulletin
Clearly plagued by injuries – a plague that hit mid-season and never got any better as key player after key player fell over – the Gorillas lost by 22.10 (142) to 7.8 (50) for their second competition exit in fifth position in as many years.
As good as the free-flowing Demons were, it was hard not to feel for Wilston-Grange, who had too many players going in carrying niggles but with the club having no other choice such was the situation in their medical rooms.
“We went in with a couple underdone but then we got a smashed cheekbone, we’ve got stuffed knees – you name it we’ve copped it,” coach David Martin said.
It was jokingly suggested the Gorillas would travel back to Brisbane in the backs of ambulances, but that comment was not far off the mark.
The injury crisis began around the time they played the Western Magpies, then Springwood.
Rather than get better, the plague got worse and the club’s bill for strapping tape soared sharply.
“They kept fighting, they were good,” Martin said.
“I probably reckon they were in it up until three-quarter time last week, but you can fight for only so long.”
Surfers, too, finished with injury concerns after former skipper Jacob Clarke (broken wrist) and on-baller Aaron Rolfe (ankle and shoulder) left the game in the first quarter.
Neither is likely to play again this season, leaving coach Beau Zorko and match committee members with plenty of headaches.
Zorko told his players afterwards that they had produced the brand of football they wanted to, but subsequently issued a warning not to expect it to be the same when they tackle the competition’s toughest test – a road trip to Noosa next Saturday.
The big question is can they, or will they be allowed to, do the same at Weybe Road in the first semi-final.
“I think the reigning champs will certainly hit back pretty hard after yesterday’s loss,” Zorko noted.
“We’ve still got a lot to improve on but remember for the majority of the group that was their first final in senior footy.
“They’ve had a taste of the tempo, but the tempo will go up next week though because Noosa have been there and done that and they’ll try to assert themselves on the contest really early.”
With so much ball despatched into the Surfers forward zone, spearhead Korey Fulton had a field day, finishing with 10.1 for his second such haul in as many weeks.
On the ball, Tayler Rolfe, Ryan Dienjes, Jesse Haberfield and his 16-year-old brother Cassidy were outstanding and ruckman Mick Cunningham turned in what Zorko described as his best game for the club.
The brave Gorillas had Mitch Howe, skipper David Tough, key-position utility Steve Brittain and ruckman Brent Ogle as their best.