By Terry Wilson
Updated following the Sunday QAFL Fixture
Panthers all but guarantee a top-three finish
Morningside look like they have wrapped up a top-three finish for the finals and are in a powerful position to grab the important second place, after seeing off hot and cold Wilston Grange at Jack Esplen Oval on Sunday.
The Panthers scored by 20.15 (135) to 10.3 (63) to join Surfers Paradise on 44 points after gaining a significant percentage booster that appears certain to carry them to second for the finals and the all-important home ground advantage for the qualifying final.
After the dust had settled on a windy weekend of action, which featured 10-goal wins by Surfers Paradise (over Palm Beach Currumbin) and by Western Magpies (over Mt Gravatt), Surfers are second and the Panthers third, relegating Broadbeach to fourth coming into the last round next weekend.
Surfers have a percentage of 130.71 heading into a blockbuster against the Western Magpies next weekend while the Panthers, with their percentage of 122.24, are playing bottom side Sandgate away.
This means the Panthers are definitely in the box seat for home-ground advantage in the first weekend of finals because it is highly unlikely, they would lose to the Hawks.
It was a fourth-quarter blitz from the home side that destroyed the hot and cold Grange, who were 29 points down at three-quarter time.
The Gorillas had kicked the last three goals of the third stanza and were right in the game – until the Panthers unleashed with a spurt of 8.7 to two goals.
That term was typical of the Grange season in their final match of the year.
For coach Barry O’Brien, in his rookie stint as coach, it was a mixed bag filled with deep troughs and the occasional high as he tried to build foundations for a successful future.
Sunday’s final term summed up perfectly the Grange’s 2019 campaign.
At three-quarter time it was 12.8 to 8.3, a lead of 29 points. The fact that the Gorillas kicked the last three goals of the term gave the visitors some hope, trimming what had been a 53-point margin down to 29.
But the bad old habits kicked in with Morningside having last use of the wind, much to the chagrin of O’Brien.
“We had worked our backsides off for three quarters but again we couldn’t finish it off,” said O’Brien.
His best were back-up ruckman Jackson Coulter and forward Trent Aarons, who looks like he has called it a day after four goals.
For the Panthers it is now on to next weekend and the need not to foul up after what will be a six-day break.
Best for them were forward Nathan Colenso and hard-at-it on-baller Jimmy Rayner, who kicked four goals each, and utility Ethan Hunt.
Morningside 3.3, 10.7, 12.8, 20.15 (135)
Wilston Grange 2.0, 4.2, 8.3, 10.3 (63)
GOALS, Morningside: N. Colenso 4, J. Rayner 4, E. Mallan 3, L. Rogerson 2, B. Hodge 2, H. Joyce 1, E. Hunt 1, D. Cameron-Reeves 1, S. Godfrey 1, L. Dignan 1. Wilston Grange: T. Aarons 4, L. Molan 2, M. Heaslip 2, H. Milford 1, M. Linnane 1.
BEST, Morningside: N. Colenso, J. Rayner, R. Dadds, E. Hunt, E. Mallan, S. Godfrey. Wilston Grange: N/A.
Demons demolish premiership hotshots with big win
Surfers Paradise have ended the unbeaten run of defending champions Palm Beach Currumbin with a stunning demolition of their Gold Coast rivals on Saturday.
In a performance that has made everybody sit up and take notice, the Demons blitzed their rivals after half-time to win by 13.11 (89) to 3.7 (25) at Sir Bruce Small Park.
It was not that Surfers were not expected to win – they had been playing some outstanding football in recent times – it was just the manner in which they survived a first-half arm-wrestle, then do to Palm Beach what the premiers had been doing all season.
Rarely have the Lions had terms dictated to them in a manner that Surfers did.
Surfers had all the intensity, the thirst for hard work the hunger and the connectivity from back lines to the forward zones.
And while the Dees were up and about, the Lions looked flat, lethargic and, to be brutally honest, had too many passengers.
“They (Surfers) were super and they taught us a lesson,” was the blunt assessment of PBC coach Jess Sinclair after PBC lost for the first time since round 17 last year – when Surfers beat them at Salk Oval.
That winning run stretched for18 matches.
“They outclassed us, outworked us, outhunted us and we just looked second rate.”
Sinclair said the players have been through a block of hard training with intense running sessions and he suspected a loss was going to happen sooner or later before the finals.
“It is hard to keep rising when we know we were going to finish top and I sensed that before the game,” he said.
But take nothing away from the Demons. They looked every bit a grand final contender as there has been this season as they thrive under the coaching of Brad Moore.
Moore has his playing roster all on the same page. They are playing with passion playing a superb brand.
On Saturday it all started at the back. To keep an attacking side such as PBC to only 3.7 – and just the one major up to half-time – says the Surfers defence was brilliant.
Brody Haberfield, the best defender in the competition, Jack Taylor and linkmen Josh Matulis – the depth of the Dees goes on and on.
Moore told his players to be ‘extremely proud’ of what they are doing.
“We had 22 contributors across the board all doing what they had to do and you should be extremely proud of what you’re doing at the moment – and it’s my job to say at the moment because there’s still a lot of time to go,” he said.
“The biggest thing is that you are doing what you’re doing at the moment and that’s what’s going to put us in good stead going into the business end of the season.”
The Demons had big Dan Green firing up front with six goals, they had Matulis, Brody and Cassidy Haberfield and Taylor heading their best list.
PBC, on the other hand, had few consistently good players. Jed Harrison in the ruck and Tom Thynne and Dylan Troutman on-ball were exceptions to the rule.
We will leave the final words to Sinclair.
“Surfers had a carrot today, to go to second, and we were really playing for nothing,” he said.
“But the most disappointing thing was how we finished the game off. I challenged the guys at three-quarter time to respond and show a bit but they dropped their heads, which isn’t good.
“We’ll be better next time against them – if we come up against them again.”
Surfers Paradise 3.2, 4.5, 8.6, 13.11 (89)
Palm Beach Currumbin 0.1, 1.3, 2.5, 3.7 (25)
GOALS, Surfers Paradise: D. Green 5, M. Green 2, C. Haberfield 2, K. Ford 1, C. McKenzie 1, R. LeFeuvre 1, N. Corbett 1. Palm Beach Currumbin: J. Woolley 2, D. Troutman 1.
BEST, Surfers Paradise: J. Matulis, B. Haberfield, C. Haberfield, J. Taylor, R. LeFeuvre, T. Smith. Palm Beach Currumbin: J. Harrison, T. Thynne, D. Troutman, N. Crowley, A. Munro, A. McKenzie.
Magpies swoop on Vultures and grab fifth spot
It is definitely the time of year when cold westerly winds sweep in and those pesky black and white endothermic vertebrates start swooping on unsuspecting victims.
For those wondering what on earth endothermic vertebrates are, in this instance are magpies, birds that get stirred up towards the end of their nesting season and dive-bomb everything in sight.
This was exactly the case on Saturday when the Western Magpies thrashed cross-Brisbane rivals Mt Gravatt with a 10-goal hammering at McCarthy Homes Oval – taking victory by 19.7 (121) to 9.7 (61).
The completely unexpected one-sided romp elevated the Magpies into fifth spot on the ladder, now level on 24 points with the Vultures and Labrador heading into next weekend’s final round.
As much as it was an exciting and vibrant return to form from the Magpies it was a morale-destroying effort from the Vultures as they surrendered fifth place and dropped to sixth, although a mere .10 of a percentage points adrift of the Magpies.
What was most impressive from the home side was their hunger for the ball as they fielded arguably their best side for the season.
And, what is more, their attackers finally found their radar. To kick 19.7 in demanding conditions – after a season littered by inaccuracy – was a huge bonus as far as coach Brydan Morgan was concerned.
He was rapt for ex-Brisbane Lions pair Claye Beams (six goals) and Ryan Harwood (four) find the middle of the big sticks, not to mention Brody Lumber, arguably the dominant forward in the competition at the moment, to also kick four.
But their finishing power was venerated by supply from the midfield, said Morgan.
“Our attack came on the back of our midfielders and the pressure they were applying,” said the Magpies mentor.
“We knew Mt Gravatt are an honest team and get to work at the contests so before the game we knew we had to roll up the sleeves and compete hard around the ball.”
When the Magpies led 32-8 at quarter-tine after a term with the strong wind helping them, the writing was on the wall for the Vultures.
With the wind the Vultures kicked 4.1 but the home side put on 4.2 going into the break and setting up a dominant second half when they kicked 10 goals to four.
The hiding came as a total surprise to Mt Gravatt coach Adam Boon. He expected a close tussle, so did his rival Morgan.
“I knew they had a strong side in but so did we, so thought it would be a close contest,” said Boon, suggesting at changes in playing personnel.
“It just didn’t pan out that way unfortunately.
“It is not a good sign to have our biggest loss of the year so we’ll just have to put it behind us and focus on next week with Labrador.
“But we might have to make changes and bring in some enthusiasm and effort.”
Beams, Lumber, Harwood, captain and defender David Lewis and fellow backman Luca Winton were outstanding for the Magpies who again put their season on the line next weekend when they travel to the Gold Coast to play Surfers Paradise while Mt Gravatt are hosting Labrador in the final showdown for fifth on the ladder.
Best for Mt Gravatt were half-back flanker Todd Carbone, playing in his 100th game for the club, Joel Leahy on-ball and forward and defender Dylan Smith.
A savage blow for the Vultures was the loss of last year’s captain Mick Hamill, who sustained a badly broken leg during the second quarter.
Western Magpies 5.2, 9.4, 14.6, 19.7 (121)
Mt Gravatt 1.2, 5.3, 6.5, 9.7 (61)
GOALS, Western Magpies: C. Beams 6, R. Harwood 4, B. Lumber 4, K. Reed 2, V. Pope 2, L. Dwyer 1. Mt Gravatt: T. Matthews 2, A. Smith 2, J. Licht 1, J. Wratten 1, D. Nash 1, D. Marsh 1, D. MacDonald 1.
BEST, Western Magpies: C. Beams, B. Lumber, D. Lewis, L. Winton, R. Harwood, D. Edwards. Mt Gravatt: T. Carbone, J. Leahy, D. Smith, T. Matthews, B. O’Dea, D. Marsh.
Tigers stay alive in their hunt for finals
Labrador remain an endangered species in the QAFL finals race but will continue their fight for survival after a clear win over Sandgate on Saturday.
The Tigers scored by 14.12 (96) to 7.8 (50) over the bottom side at Cooke-Murphy Oval to stay in the hunt for fifth spot in the play-offs, joining Western Magpies and Mt Gravatt in a three-way battle for the remaining finals place.
The Tigers are seventh on the ladder with a percentage of 82.55 and trailing the Magpies (96.84) and Mt Gravatt (95.74) with next weekend’s final round of fixtures to go when they travel to Mt Gravatt.
“We’re still in the fight but obviously we need things to go our way next week,” said coach Liam Burke.
“We need to win and have Surfers beat the Magpies. That’s it.”
With big skipper Bryce Retzlaff leading the way on a windswept afternoon, the Tigers always had their measure of their inexperienced opponents.
Retzlaff kicked six goals and as many behinds and was named best for Labrador.
So it was interesting to listen to the rival coaches and hear their views on proceedings.
Marsh nominated defender Josh Preval as best for the Hawks. Guess who he played on? Yes, he was on Retzlaff.
“I thought Josh did a good job on him around the ground and I was surprised to learn after the match that he kicked six,” said Marsh.
But Burke had no doubts that Retzlaff was a key to the win.
“The fact he had 12 shots at goal shows that,” was Burke’s reply.
Midfielder Ben Fagan and youngsters Cooper Anderson on a wing and Pat Murtagh in the ruck played well for the Tigers who led by 19 at quarter-time and by 20 at half-time before a 5.2 third quarter shut the visitors out of the game.
“We were thereabouts but they kicked a few in the third quarter and opened up too big a gap for us,” said Marsh.
Away from Preval, the Hawks were well served by Jordan Harding and James Taglieri while Mitch Crawley kicked four goals.
Labrador 4.4, 6.7, 11.9, 14.12 (96)
Sandgate 1.3, 3.5, 5.7, 7.8 (50)
GOALS, Labrador: B. Retzlaff 6, D. Budarick 2, W. Mills 2, B. Fagan 1, M. Daniel 1, R. Clements 1, A. Mckay 1. Sandgate: M. Crawley 4, A. Fabian 1, B. Harding 1, L. Harrop 1.
BEST, Labrador: B. Retzlaff, B. Fagan, C. Anderson, P. Murtagh, D. Budarick, S. Walker. Sandgate: J. Preval, J. Harding, J. Taglieri, J. Larkins, S. Lubke, M. Crawley.