By Terry Wilson
Same five clubs left to fight out the premiership
After all the permutations, what-ifs, possibilities and theories leading into the 2019 QAFL finals series the dust has settled and, surprise surprise, the five teams that made the play-offs last year are back again for more.
From first to fifth, Palm Beach Currumbin, Surfers Paradise, Morningside, Broadbeach and Mt Gravatt are left to fight out this year’s premiership, although in different order to last season.
Broadbeach finished second last year and Surfers Paradise were fourth.
In the weekend’s last round, Surfers proved too slick for the Western Magpies and eliminated the Brisbane club from the finals; Morningside kicked too many behinds against Sandgate to be able to grab second spot on the ladder; Mt Gravatt overtook the Magpies to finish fifth; and premiers Palm Beach Currumbin regained form with victory over Broadbeach.
The results mean that Western Magpies and Labrador are now in mothballs.
So it is on to next weekend and the first bouts of the play-offs, both matches scheduled for the Gold Coast on Saturday.
The qualifying final (second versus third) is between Surfers Paradise and Morningside at Sir Bruce Small Park and the elimination final (fourth versus fifth) is between Broadbeach and Mt Gravatt at Subaru Oval.
Slick Surfers eliminate Magpies from title race
Last year Surfers Paradise hosted an elimination final, which they won against Mt Gravatt.
The Demons, hitting some effervescent form at the business end of the season, have now gone one better by clinching second spot and a finals double chance after beating Western Magpies at Sir Bruce Small Park On Saturday.
Surfers won by 13.11 (89) to 9.5 (59) to host qualifying final rights against Morningside next weekend.
The result also forced the Magpies into mothballs, beaten by the Demons at Small Park for the second year in a row in the final home-and-away fixture for the season.
The Surfers victory proved their previous weekend’s win over Palm Beach Currumbin was not a fluke.
Indeed the Demons were super impressive as their speed, unquestionable mateship and hard work carried them to their 30-point win.
These were factors not missed by Magpies coach Brydan Morgan who doffed his cap to the Demons.
“It was just their speed, their energy, their slickness around the ball, their ability to outnumber us in the midfield that was very hard to beat,” said Morgan.
“I thought we performed better than we did last year.
“The margin may have been more (it was 22 points in 2018), so this one blew out in the end.”
A remarkable stat from the clash was that, despite leading by 10 points at half-time, the Demons had a 16-2 free-kick count going against them at that stage.
Yet the camaraderie so evident in the ranks at Small Park shone through and, as coach Brad Moore said later, it has given the club to have a full-blooded run at the big prize.
It was a pressure-packed contest with the Magpies playing for their season and the home side determined to take second spot for the finals.
The pressure resulted in plenty of turnovers although as the game wore on the better the Demons were.
“It was a high pressure game and they were throwing anything and everything at us to get the win,” said Moore. “It was their season so there was a lot of pressure there.
“At times we were not as composed as we needed to be with ball in hand – we made some really simple mistakes.”
Moore finished his post-match address by reminding his players what is to come.
“The most important season is now about to begin,” he said.
Victory was especially sweet for Matt Green and Nick Scott who were playing their 50th games for the club.
They were good but heading the Surfers charge were midfielder Jack Yelland, speedy half-flanker Daniel Van de Werken (four goals), midfielder Kain Ford and Paddy Rankin, with two goals from a wing.
Over in the Magpies camp coach Morgan gave every indication he would like to continue his role in 2020, especially with a youthful group.
Where the Magpies fell down this year was the slow start, as was the case last year, to their campaign.
“A couple of small-margin losses in our first five games came back to bite us on the backside,” he said.
“We felt we were good enough to be in the five but ultimately it went back to that.”
Veteran Val Pope (four goals) and hard-working teenager Dan Edwards on a wing were best for the Magpies, who were also served well by defender Brenton Saunders and teenage flanker Riley Greene.
Surfers Paradise 2.3, 6.8, 9.11, 13.11 (89)
Western Magpies 4.2, 5.4, 8.4, 9.5 (59)
GOALS, Surfers Paradise: D. Van De Werken 4, P. Rankin 2, D. Green 2, K. Ford 1, N. Corbett 1, N. Trevena 1, J. Yelland 1, H. Kiel 1. Western Magpies: V. Pope 4, L. Winton 1, D. Edwards 1, B. Lumber 1, D. Lewis 1, C. Beams 1.
BEST, Surfers Paradise: J. Yelland, D. Van De Werken, K. Ford, P. Rankin, S. Jewell, R. LeFeuvre. Western Magpies: V. Pope, D. Edwards, B. Saunders, R. Greene, W. Fletcher, A. Highlands.
Cats lose to PBC and forced into elimination mode
Premiers Palm Beach Currumbin will go into finals action nice and fresh but Broadbeach now walk the tightrope after losing to the Lions on Saturday.
PBC took the big Coast derby 16.10 (106) to 10.10 (70) at Subaru Oval after Southport-listed Trent Stubbs kicked a telling six majors and now have next weekend off as minor premiers.
At the same time Broadbeach, beaten by the Lions in the 2018 grand final, are now into sudden-death mode and face an elimination final against Mt Gravatt this weekend.
The Cats need to keep winning – all their remaining matches will be on the road – to be able to repeat last season’s deeds and coach Beau Zorko is confident that task can be accomplished.
“I think it is an ideal dress-rehearsal going into the finals and what we hope is another month of football,” said Zorko after the loss.
“In all seriousness we did not deserve to win (on Saturday) and I thought that Stubbs’s accuracy was the difference.
“At times we made poor decisions and poor mistakes but one thing I was rapt in was our level of intensity.
“In the end it was that Palm Beach were probably a bit better in clutch situations while lacked a bit of polish and had some brain farts going inside our 50.”
It was a good comeback for the defending premiers PBC after their lesson from Coast rivals Surfers Paradise the previous weekend when they lost for the first time in 2018.
Coach Jess Sinclair is happy that his side is going into the finals with some form back and confidence restored.
The Lions had good performers in Dylan Troutman on a half-back flank, club champion Jesse Derrick playing his new position at virtual centre half-forward, defender Jackson Emblem on Jason Cloke (four goals) and on-ball pair Tyler Cornish and Tom Thynne.
A bonus was Stubbs, who is qualified to play in the finals.
And it did not go unnoticed that Jack Anthony, best on ground in the 2018 grand final, acted as match-day runner for Sinclair.
With just one quarter on the field since a round-seven ankle injury, Anthony was used as runner by Sinclair in the hope it would serve as a fitness test of sorts coming onto a second semi-final in a fortnight.
“We want to get some conditioning into Jack,” said Sinclair.
For Broadbeach on-ballers Nick Burton, Brandon Chadwick, Benji Neal and Blake Erickson were the pick.
Palm Beach Currumbin 4.4, 10.5, 13.7, 16.10 (106)
Broadbeach 2.2, 5.4, 7.5, 10.10 (70)
GOALS, Palm Beach Currumbin: T. Stubbs 6, J. Derrick 3, J. Woolley 2, J. Croad 2, T. Cornish 1, J. Harrison 1, B. Askey 1. Broadbeach: J. Cloke 4, J. Hinds 1, B. Neal 1, L. Nelson 1, B. Chadwick 1, N. Burton 1, D. Irwin 1.
BEST, Palm Beach Currumbin: J. Derrick, D. Troutman, J. Croad, T. Cornish, C. Marsden, J. Emblem. Broadbeach: N. Burton, B. Chadwick, B. Neal, B. Erickson, B. Hancock, J. Newman.
Vultures back to Coast for another eliminator
Mt Gravatt will trek down the M1 next weekend for a second successive QAFL elimination final, this time one against Broadbeach at Subaru Oval.
Last season the Vultures were beaten at the same stage of the finals by Surfers Paradise at Sir Bruce Small Park.
On Saturday the Vultures leapfrogged Western Magpies to grab the fifth and last remaining finals spot after they beat Labrador by 15.12 (103) to 11.17 (83) at Dittmer Park on Saturday.
The Magpies lost by five goals to Surfers Paradise, leaving fifth place open for the taking, and that is exactly what the Vultures did.
They trailed early but steadily worked their way back into proceedings and basically held sway after quarter-time when the Tigers had a three-point lead.
It was a show of ascendency that pleased coach Adam Boon the most.
“I thought we played a better brand of footy and weren’t dictated to as much as we had been in the past few weeks (when beaten by Western Magpies and Surfers Paradise),” said Boon.
“We had to fix up things up forward, work on our polish and not over-using the football.”
That the Vultures did as they survived to fight another day.
Impressive youngster Joel Leahy was a shining light in the midfield and at half-forward for the Vultures, Mitch Hart did a good job on veteran Tiger Wayde Mills, Jonah Light was also solid on a tough opponent in Bryce Retzlaff and usual midfield spark Frazer Neate was at his best.
Indications from the Tiger camp were that former Brisbane Lion Mills has played his last game of football and that a rebuild will happen at Cooke-Murphy Oval in the off-season.
Coach Liam Burke should be at the helm again for the second year of a two-season deal in 2020.
“We knew this year was going to be a bit about building and development,” he said.
“We had a new list and debuted a few young guys looking at the future.”
Burke agreed that Saturday’s result was indicative of the Labrador year.
“We were just off the pace and that probably summed up our season in one game of footy.
“It was a good effort but not for four quarters – and we leaked goals too easily.
“Mt Gravatt put on quick goals and we just couldn’t get them back.”
For the Tigers young ruckman Lachlan Davidson did well against quality opposition, 19-year-old defender Josh Deacon did well as did Ben Fagan and Dyson Budarick in the middle.
Mt Gravatt 2.4, 7.6, 13.9, 15.13 (103)
Labrador 2.7, 5.7, 9.11, 11.17 (83)
GOALS, Mt Gravatt: D. Nash 3, F. Neate 2, A. Smith 2, S. Stubbs 2, D. Smith 2, K. Walsh 1, M. Doust 1, J. Coghlan 1, T. Matthews 1. Labrador: B. Retzlaff 4, D. Budarick 2, R. Clements 2, J. Boxer 1, M. Fraser 1, W. Mills 1.
BEST, Mt Gravatt: J. Leahy, M. Hart, F. Neate, T. Jamieson, J. Licht, S. Stubbs. Labrador: L. Davidson, J. Deacon, B. Fagan, D. Budarick, B. Retzlaff, J. Young.
Panthers miss second spot after rush of behinds
Morningside have missed grabbing a home QAFL qualifying final by the barest of margins after a truckload of behinds in their win over Sandgate at Lemke Road Oval on Saturday.
Needing to make up a deficit of about 8 per cent to overtake Surfers Paradise on the ladder, the Panthers ended up just 3.74 per cent away from hosting the qualifying final next weekend.
Instead the Panthers will now play that final against Surfers at Sir Bruce Small Park on the Gold Coast this Saturday after the Demons eliminated Western Magpies from the title race.
Morningside beat Sandgate by 14.20 (104) to 5.4 (34) and, after the Hawks began in usual style by kicking the first goal, they were never in danger.
Things could have been much better for the Panthers had they kicked 17 or so goals but what has happened has happened and coach Clint Watts was left lamenting what could have been.
“It was a bit of everything,” said Watts of the total of 20 behinds.
“There was inaccuracy, there were clangers inside the 50 metre arc like running towards goal but going sideways instead of attacking the big sticks.
“But that’s all done now and we’re going into a new season (the finals).”
In-form Nathan Beck was outstanding for the Panthers across the half-back line where he was the stopper and also used the ball well by foot.
Jimmy Rayner on-ball and up forward and Darcy Cameron-Reeves, as a midfielder and forward were other prominent Panthers on the day.
The result left Sandgate as wooden spooners but taking plenty of hope and promise into 2020 when Jarad Marsh is expected to be coaching again.
“I’m taking to the club to see what may go on but this was the second of a three-year deal for me,” said Marsh. “I will be coaching somewhere.”
As the Hawks have done most of the season, they started promisingly enough but could not maintain the rage for four quarters.
That is all part of the development process and it has to be said the Hawks do have a fair bit of young talent on their list.
Impressive teenager Tahj Abberley, who will be the subject of NEAFL approaches, was again outstanding on a wing and others to do well for the Hawks were half-back Jai Larkins and midfielder Jordan Maynard.
Morningside 3.6, 6.10, 9.14, 14.20 (104)
Sandgate 1.0, 2.3, 2.4, 5.4 (34)
GOALS, Morningside: P. Mollison 3, E. Hunt 3, B. Aston 3, D. Cameron-Reeves 2, R. Dadds 1, H. Joyce 1, N. Colenso 1. Sandgate: K. McKenzie 1, B. Harding 1, S. Cashen-Harris 1, C. Barber 1, J. Maynard 1.
BEST, Morningside: N. Beck, J. Rayner, D. Cameron-Reeves, E. Hunt, P. Mollison, B. Hodge. Sandgate: Abberley, J. Preval, J. Larkins, J. Harding, J. Maynard, B. Hogan.