SURPRISE packets Wilston-Grange find themselves in unfamiliar territory as competition pace-setters after they downed Palm beach-Currumbin on Saturday.
The Grange are now the only unbeaten side in the competition after four rounds after premiers Noosa beat Western Magpies in a classic clash at Chelmer and Surfers Paradise had a horror road trip to Sandgate where they copped a dreadful hiding.
Springwood scored their first win of the season against Mayne and Coolangatta made it two wins under new coach Neil McKay with victory on their road trip to Maroochy-Northshore.
By Terry Wilson
Grange Gorillas grab outright ladder lead
ONE challenge answered, the Wilston-Grange Gorillas now prepare for an even bigger one next weekend as the season surprise packets continued their rousing start under new coach David martin.
The Grange made it four wins in a row – and importantly secured outright top spot on the points ladder – after they downed perennial powers Palm beach-Currumbin at Hickey Park on Saturday.
The Grange finished all over the top of PBC, taking the match by 20.8 (128) to 13.14 (92) after a final term that netted them 8.1 to 2.3.
Up to the final stanza the game had been even, but when the Gorillas won the first three centre clearances to start the fourth quarter, and kicked goals from them, the game was theirs.
Martin, who seems to be keeping the lid on things at Hickey Park, now faces up to what he considers the hardest test in the competition.
“We’ve answered one challenge, now we’ve got another one next weekend – Noosa at Noosa. That’s the toughest on the calendar,” he said.
The final result suggests PBC again ran out of legs, although Martin thought it was more of his players’ desire rather than the other way around.
“We just kept running and running,” he said. “Our fitness level seems to be pretty good.”
Heading the Gorilla charge was centreman Brendan McGrath, who missed last round because of work. The Gorillas appreciated his class I think we kicked eight goals in the last quarter.
Former Southport youngster Lachlan Moir had a fine game up front and kicked four goals, while big blond Dan Collins at centre half-forward and Hugh Campbell in defence also stood out.
It remains to be seen, but if there is any hint of over-confidence in the Gorilla camp, Martin is not aware of it.
Asked if he is having any problems keeping the lid in things, he replied: “There was not too much hype about the place afterwards.”
The result raises a number of questions. The first two involve the Gorillas – (1) how long is it since Wilston-Grange won four in a row; and (2) how long is it since the club sat atop the premiership ladder.
The third is can Palm Beach-Currumbin now make it back into finals contention after losing three in a row to start the new season.
Sure, the Lions have lost to three top sides in Noosa, Western Magpies and now Wilston-Grange, but they have fallen way off the pace and are 12 points out of the current top five.
Co-captain Matt Carroll agreed it has not been an ideal start for the Lions but there is no way finals hopes are eroding.
“Sure, it’s not an ideal start, but we’re not thinking we’re out of the race yet,” he said. “We’re playing some good footy in patches but we’re not putting it together for four quarters.”
Carroll thought the Lions were in it right up to the last term when things went awry.
“We started well, then it was to and fro. Then in the last quarter they ran over the top of us. They were much cleaner, they hit their targets and moved the ball well.
“They have certainly improved a lot since last year and give them credit because they’re a good footy side.”
Carroll forecast some changes next round given the Lions’ reserves are unbeaten.
“The reserves are three and zip, we’re zip and three, so we have to reward some of the boys from the twos,” he said.
Lion-hearted ruckman Michael I’Anson was a clear best for the losers, while full-back Scott Vis and ever-reliable James Drake, at centre half-forward, also stood out.
Big fourth quarter gives premiers the points
A DEVASTATING final term from Noosa gave the defending champions victory over flag contenders Western Magpies in a cracking contest at Chelmer Oval on Saturday.
Noosa took the spoils by 20.11 (131) to 17.4 (106), but only after breaking open what had been a terrific arm-wrestle between clearly two of the competition’s power sides.
The Magpies opened their first home match of the season in style, forging a 17-point lead. But scores were level at half-time and again at three-quarter time before the Noosa machine clicked into top gear with a burst of 7.2 to 3.1.
That effort was particularly pleasing for coach Wayne Fletcher.
“For sure it was always going to be a test coming up against a fit team with plenty of pace,” he said.
“So I was more than happy with the way we came home in the last quarter. It was a good indication that we have the fitness there.”
Fletcher than sounded an ominous warning to challengers for Noosa’s title.
“It was a good win but there is certainly room for improvement,’ he said. “We turned the ball over too often and there are a few skill errors we can polich up on.”
Noosa had a clear winner in Travis Mills, who alternated between on-ball and forward-line duties. Mills kicked eight telling goals in one of his best performances in Tiger colours.
“He was just fantastic,” said Fletcher. “It was not just his eight goals, it was his pressure, his tackling – the 1 percenters.”
Champion Lucas Matthews was again to the fore in the middle, where his physical presence and ball-winning ways were again on display, while former Maroochy midfielder Owen Bailey also stood out.
Western Magpies coach Peter McClennan bemoaned the absence of three key forwards Val Pope, David Hamill and Jye Spencer which he felt hurt his side more than expected.
Although the Magpies came up with a winner in makeshift full-forward Alex Dickfos, no relation to the famous Dickfos family from Windsor-Zillmere, they did miss the presence of Hamill in particular.
“Our forward strength was affected without those three,” said McClennan, who also had only one on the interchange bench for that telling final term.
“That left us a bit thin on our rotations through the midfield.
“But take nothing away from Noosa, they played well and had a number of god running players.”
Dickfos was a stand-out up forward, while other Magpies to please McClennan were Kale Reed on a wing and midfielder Chris Judson.
‘Insipid’ Surfers slayed by Sandgate
SUCCESSFUL captain-coach Ben Long may have described it as ‘one of those days’ but his Surfers Paradise counterpart Rob Martin could not have been more blunt in his assessment of a disaster day for the Demons at Lemke Road on Saturday.
A week after downing premiers Noosa, Surfers Paradise left that form back on the Gold Coast and copped a drubbing – by 23.6 (144) to 5.6 (36) – at the hands of rampant Sandgate.
It was a completely unexpected result that surprised Long and left a stunned Martin gobsmacked.
“It was the most inspid effort I’ve seen in my time at the club,” said Martin after the dreadful Dees finished the first half with just 0.2 on the scoreboard.
“We never touched the football for the first 20 minutes.
“To be honest with you, we beat Noosa last week and the guys seemed to turn up against Sandgate thinking they would win.
“You’re always going to get beaten at times, but on Saturday we just gave up. We had given up even as early as 10 minutes before quarter-time. It was absolutely unacceptable.
“I was dumbfounded by the lack of application of our players because it was so horrendously different from the previous week.”
Long was equally at a loss to explain the 108-point victory, but he felt a top-notch performance coming after a good week by his players on the training track.
“Maybe we just had one of those days,” he said.
“We were confident if we played well we could win the game, but not in my wildest dreams did I think we could do what we did.
“We haven’t been playing too good this year, but training during the week was good.
“We had a chat about getting back tour style of running play and on Saturday we had run – and our forwards took marks and kicked goals.
“A few of our good players have been a little quiet this year and we spoke about everyone contributing – and that’s what has been letting us down.”
The Hawks made light of the early loss of ruckman/forward Brendan Forbes, but they quickly found new avenues to the goals.
The Hawks finished with 11 individual goalkickers, headed by Josh Walker with five.
Rover Ben Beaven starred for the hawks, picking up possessions at will. Ruckman Michael Pettitt again proved his value to the side with another strong effort and 2010 B@F Aaron Fabian revelled in his role back at centre half-back.
Little can be said for the Demons, who had Jacob Clark, Bronson Durack and Sean Atkinson as their best.
As Long put it, maybe it was just one of those days for Surfers. Coach Martin certainly hopes so.
Mayne v Springwood
SPRINGWOOD are finally on the board after they saw off Mayne in a tough clash at Everton Park on Saturday.
Paul Opbroek’s young Pumas took the clash by 15.8 (98) to 13.8 (86) for the club’s first win of the season, leaving Mayne and Maroochy-Northshore the only clubs to win in this 2011 campaign.
Because both clubs desperately needed the points, it was a vital contest and Opbroek could not have been happier after the Pumas had suffered two huge defeats after an encouraging first-round loss to Surfers Paradise.
“It was an important win for sure, just getting confidence back on track,” said Opbroek.
“We pushed Surfers so well in round one, but then we were thumped by Sandgate and Coolangatta.”
Springwood won through their first quarter – a term that is starting to haunt Mayne.
Springwood led 5.2 to 1.2 at quarter-time, then the rest of the game was even.
Opbroek was wary of a fired-up Mayne, whose players have been roundly criticised by payer-coach Luke Faulkner for their stuttering starts to matches this year.
“Mayne looked very intense before the game,” said Opbroek. “I could see the way they warmed up that they wanted to get off to a good start, so I told the boys they had to wear it.”
For Faulkner it is starting to be the same old story.
“Just write the same things again,” he said.
“We started slowly – then we outscored them for the other three quarters.
“We need to do something about it because it’s just killing us.
“We had a bit of momentum in the second quarter and it looked like we were going to run over the top, but a couple of things went against us.
“In the last quarter we started to come back again but we fell just short.”
Key performers for Springwood were half-forward Mark Thompson, defensive tagger Matt Hockley and Josh Brown in the middle.
For Mayne, half-back Sam Paterson, midfielder Jeames Gillett and Faulkner were best.
Faulkner started in the centre but finished with six goals after he stationed himself up forward.
Blues overcome slow start
COOLANGATTA conceded a four-goal lead before regathering and surging to a 16.17 (113) to 10.10 (70) win over Maroochy-Northshore at Fisherman’s Road on Saturday.
When Maroochy kicked the first four goals of the match, Coolangatta coach Neil McKay was understandably worried, but he was encouraged by the way his players fought back to steal a precious win on the road.
Coolangatta set up victory with a second-quarter effort of 6.7 to 2.3, but poor discipline in the third term let the Roos back in with a sniff.
The Blues gave away three 50-metre penalties, all of which resulted in goals for the home side, which left McKay decidedly displeased.
“But we got some discipline and concentration back in the fourth quarter,” he said.
Ruckman/forward Chris Carins was best the Blues, while his brother, former Mt Gravatt star Sam fired up on a flank and on a wing.
And newcomer Jacob Spackman, formerly with Broadbeach, also drew praise from McKay for his work on the ball and up forward.
Maroochy were, in coach Roger Delaney’s words, awful in the second quarter, a term that definitely cost his side the chance of victory, he said.
“But then in the last quarter we dropped off the pace,” he said.
The Roos were hurt by injuries to key duo James Page (first quarter) and Jesse Goldfinch (second quarter), who both were sidelined by ankle problems.
Best for the Roos were midfielder Kane Tyson, Jarrod Raun in the centre and up forward and back pocket Declan Magill.