SEASON 2010 grand finalists Sandgate have suddenly found themselves under pressure to stay in the top three in the race for the Pineapple Hotel Cup.
The Hawks fell to ever-emerging flag threats Palm Beach-Currumbin by 16.5 (101) to 10.8 (68) at Lemke Road on Saturday, a result that dropped the Hawks from a share of top spot to a share of second with premiers Noosa.
By Terry Wilson
But with two huge matches coming up against Western Magpies and Noosa – both at Lemke Road – the pressure is right on Sandgate to hold on to that all-important finals double chance.
Saturday’s loss to PBC came after the Hawks led by 19 points at quarter-time. From that point, the Hawks kicked only 6.6 to PBC’s 15.2, clear evidence of the domination the visitors held over their rivals.
And at the forefront of that domination was PBC’s ageless, priceless, peerless James Drake.
The veteran, now 31, turned in a superlative performance that had coach Craig O’Brien in raptures and opposition captain-coach Ben Long just as impressed.
“We had no answers to drake,” said Long of the star Lion’s four goals from centre half-forward. “He’s a superstar of this competition.”
“There’s no doubt about that,” said O’Brien of Long’s rating of the lean, lanky Drake.
“He was absolutely sensational and he seems to be getting better with age. He’s fit, he’s running and he’s taking big grabs.”
It was a funny start to the game because Sandgate, running into the wind, opened with a term of 4.12 to 1.3.
But, as O’Brien pointed out, the team with the wind advantage had to kick to the wet end of the ground, whereas the side running into it had much drier conditions in the forward zones.
“Sandgate were very good early. They won the stoppages and we couldn’t get our hands on the ball,” said O’Brien of the opening exchanges.
“It was not until about the 15-minute mark of the second quarter that we started to get some ball and that was the momentum shift because we kicked the last four goals of the quarter.”
Long, who described the loss as ‘a disappointing day at the office’, said the Hawks played to their style in the first quarter, keeping mistakes to a minimum and pressuring their opposition.
“But after that they changed a few things and we didn’t adapt,” said Long.
“I thought on the day our best was as good as theirs. But when they played well they kicked goals and when we played well we didn’t.
“Our transfer of the ball from the midfield to the forwards let us down.
Picking good PBC players, away from Drake, was a tough task for Lions officials, such was the even spread of the workload.
But captain Angus Munro again proved what a consistent backman he is with another starring role. And the Hards brothers, Brad and Ryan, also stood out in their roles on-ball.
Ruckman/forward Brendan Forbes, starting to run into top fitness and set to be a key factor in what lies ahead for Sandgate, was best for the home side.
Defender Michael Richardson, Queensland under-18 star Tom Overington and small forward Kayne Nund also contributed strongly.