By Terry Wilson
Poor Panthers were easy prey for the Demons
The Surfers Paradise tsunami has steamrolled another victim, this time the Morningside Panthers in the QAFL qualifying final at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday.
The rampaging Demons, clearly the form side of the competition right now, crushed disappointing Morningside by 17.15 (117) to 11.6 (72) to book a place in next weekend’s second semi-final against premiers Palm Beach Currumbin.
They absolutely smashed the Panthers in every facet of the game apart from the closing 10 or so minutes when teenager Nathan Colenso kicked four goals to reduce the deficit from 68 points to the final 45-point margin.
The Dees were hot from the opening bounce after winning the toss and running with the wind at their backs.
They led 8.4 to 1.2 at quarter-time but when Morningside had use of the breeze in the second term the home side killed off the visitors with two goals to one for a half-time break of 51 points.
It was obviously a case of how far the Dees after that although the big win lost some gloss in the fourth term.
Coach Brad Moore said ‘circumstances’ led to the Panthers kicking 8.1 to 3.3 in the final quarter when Rising Star Award fancy Nathan Colenso booted the final four goals of the clash.
“We rested a few players who had taken some knocks and (defender) Brody Haberfield was one of them,” explained Moore.
“He had kept Colenso goal-less up until then.”
Other than that, all was good at Sir Bruce Small Park and Moore said his physiotherapist indicated that all players rested in the final stanza would be okay to line up against Palm Beach Currumbin next week.
“It was a very impressive start because we had obviously made a point of needing to come out of the boxes quickly,” said Moore.
“We were fortunate to kick with the breeze as well and everything we had worked on worked for us.
“We just got our tails up and the big thing was we kept the ball up our attacking end of the ground – and we were able to capitalise as well.
“But I thought our second quarter was the one that set the game up, being able to outscore them kicking into the breeze.”
The stunning start from Surfers left the Panthers gobsmacked, particularly coach Clint Watts, who admitted to being lost for words at quarter-time.
“We were right off the pace, we couldn’t get hold of the ball and they had a gale,” he said.
“Then they held us in the second and that was pretty much it.”
Watts admitted the Panthers were ‘completely outworked’. He knew the Demons like to play-on at every chance and spread the ball quickly.
“We knew what Surfers do – and they did it and we couldn’t stop it,” said Watts.
It was a positive for Surfers that their small forwards – led by best-on-ground Noa Corbett (two goals), Rene LeFeuvre (four) and Harrison Fraser (three) – all had a big say in the result.
Corbett, son of former club champion Wayne Corbett, played his best game in a long time after rejoining Surfers from NEAFL club Southport in the off-season.
“Over the last month Noa has been building steadily, every performance has been better than the last,” said Moore.
“This time his forward pressure was outstanding. He probably laid double-figure tackles and the way he worked to keep the ball in our forward half was impressive.”
Also pleasing for the Demons was the work of makeshift ruck pair Sam Jewell and Thompson Smith, who did well against bigger Panthers opposition in Brad Hodge and Peter Mollison.
Best for the Panthers, who now need to regroup strongly before taking on Broadbeach in next Sunday’s semi-final, were veteran Brad Howard across a half-back line and in the middle, ever-consistent centre half-back Will Pendlebury, Sam Godfrey on a wing and young Colenso in a variety of roles.
Howard, ex-St Kilda, finished with two goals, a total matched by Henry Joyce.
Surfers Paradise 8.4, 10.7, 14.12, 17.15 (117)
Morningside 1.2, 2.4, 3.5, 11.6 (72)
GOALS, Surfers Paradise: R. LeFeuvre 4, M. Green 3, H. Fraser 3, N. Corbett 2, K. Ford 1, C. Haberfield 1, D. Green 1, D. Van De Werken 1, H. Kiel 1. Morningside: N. Colenso 4, H. Livesey 2, B. Howard 2, H. Joyce 2, B. Hodge 1.
BEST, Surfers Paradise: N. Corbett, J. Matulis, S. Jewell, H. Fraser, K. Ford, H. Kiel. Morningside: B. Howard, W. Pendlebury, S. Godfrey, N. Colenso, S. Crozier, E. Hunt.
Cloke plunges dagger through the Vultures’ hearts
Big blokes do not get any smaller, they get wiser according to Broadbeach coach Beau Zorko, who was rapt after ex-Collingwood forward Jason Cloke put on a late clinic in the QAFL elimination final at Subaru Oval on Saturday.
Cloke, at 37 years of age, was superb in a fourth-quarter blitz that turned the clash on its head and gave Broadbeach victory over gallant Mt Gravatt by 13.9 (87) to 13.6 (86) in yet another thriller between the clubs.
Zorko had no doubts that Cloke provided the difference with four telling goals in the final term as the sides turned on a cracking final that led to the Vultures packing up their gear, eliminated from the premiership race for the second successive season on the Gold Coast.
After three quarters of to-and-fro momentum switches the issue looked all over when Broadbeach, trailing by 13 points at the fourth minute mark of the fourth quarter, found their go-to man.
Cloke kicked four goals in a row for a match total of five, and Liam Nelson added another, and suddenly the Cats led by 13 points going into red time.
But that was not it, far from it, because the Vultures came back with three goals, the last two after a 12-pointer from an incident in front of goal, and it was back to two points, then three, as the final term stretched to 40 minutes.
Zorko had nothing but praise for his wisened veteran Cloke, who played 76 AFL games with Collingwood.
“Some smarts from one particular number 28, Jason Cloke, late was a big difference I thought,” said Zorko.
“Just his footy smarts and his ability to shut the game down.
“Clokey doesn’t get any shorter, he doesn’t get any lighter and he doesn’t get any dumber. In fact as the game goes on he probably gets smarter.
“Early we didn’t necessarily kick the ball to him at all well but in the end he was a significant difference, no doubt.”
This was a tense eliminator in every sense of the word.
Broadbeach started brightly, Mt Gravatt surged back and dominated the second quarter when they all but choked the life out of the Cats who then responded after a half-time piece of motivation from the coach.
“Our reserves coach (Shane Maddeley) wrote a message on the board at half-time of their match,” said Zorko.
“It read: ‘Finals don’t develop character, they expose it’. I used it at half-time of our game and to the players’ credit they responded.
“I just hope we haven’t used up all our nine lives today.”
With a trip to Brisbane next Sunday for the first semi-final at stake, the Cats and the Vultures continued a season-long series of thrillers between the two rivals.
They went into the weekend with one-point victories in two games against each other. This one was every bit as good.
The Cats started well, the Vultures then turned the screws and shut the home side down. Then it all changed in the third term when Broadbeach started to win ball at the centre bounces.
“Probably that third quarter changed it,” said Mt Gravatt coach Adam Boon.
“They started to play a bit of kick-mark, hit up at the ball footy and we probably trailed them, didn’t recognise it around the ground and tightened up a bit.
“It took our momentum away.
“But to the boys credit they fought right to the end. We were about four goals out of it and came back but couldn’t get over the line.
“The disappointing thing is we’ve had five or six games this year decided by less than a goal. Two have gone our way and the rest have gone against us.”
Young Joel Leahy, a 2018 Rising Star Award nominee, was excellent in the middle for the Vultures, who also had strong contributors in Troy Jamieson, ruckman Jarrod Huddy and teenager Tarj Townson.
“Tarj stepped up and hopefully he’ll stick around and be a valuable player for us in the future,” said Boon.
Away from Cloke, the Cats had great contributions from on-baller Nick Burton, sporting a blond-bleached hairstyle after losing a bet to team mate Brandon Chadwick, ever-reliable Josh Searl, defender Ben Hancock and utility Darcy Dienjes.
Broadbeach 4.2, 6.4, 8.5, 13.9 (87)
Mt Gravatt 3.2, 8.5, 9.5, 13.6 (84)
GOALS, Broadbeach: J. Cloke 5, N. Burton 2, L. Nelson 2, J. Hinds 2, M. Fowler 1, R. Dienjes 1. Mt Gravatt: D. Nash 3, F. Neate 2, S. Stubbs 2, K. Baker 1, J. Huddy 1, T. Townson 1, J. Wratten 1, C. McGuren 1, J. Leahy 1.
BEST, Broadbeach: J. Cloke, N. Burton, J. Searl, D. Dienjes, B. Hancock, L. Nelson. Mt Gravatt: J. Leahy, T. Jamieson, T. Townson, J. Huddy, D. Daye, F. Neate.