THE brave run at a finals berth ended for Surfers Paradise on Saturday, but only after a terrific effort against strong flag contenders Palm Beach-Currumbin at Salk Oval.
Needing to win their last five matches to make the play-offs, the Demons fell at the second last hurdle, going down to the Lions by 22.12 (144) to 19.9 (123) in a classic Gold Coast derby.

By Terry Wilson

The win set up a last-gasp shot at the finals double chance for PBC, who play Burleigh in next weekend’s final round knowing they can finish anywhere from first to fifth for the play-offs – although they would need some extraordinary results elsewhere to grab top spot away from premiers Noosa and leapfrog Western Magpies or Wilston-Grange.
But for Surfers, who are now eight points shy of fifth place on the ladder, there is only round 18 against Wilston-Grange to perhaps get some compensation for their Saturday performance.
As happy as he was for his Lions to stay in with that finals double chance, PBC coach Craig O’Brien praised Surfers for their effort, the Demons producing some refreshing offensive tactics that almost paid dividends.
“They are a pretty good side and I liked their new attacking style,” said O’Brien.
For most of the contest it was an arm-wrestle, PBC leading by two points at both quarter-time and half-time.
Then the game opened right up as the sides rammed on a combined 17.4 in a term that ran for 38 minutes.
This was the period when PBC threatened to break the back of the Demons, several times kicking three or four goals clear only to have the brave visitors fight their way back.
Then, in the last quarter, the Lions finally put the visitors to the sword as they surged to a seven-goal lead only to have the Demons fight back and kick the last four goals of the clash.
It might be a piece of mere statistical compensation for the Demons, but Saturday’s 19.9 (123) score was the highest they have kicked against PBC since round 14 of the old GCAFL 1996 season when they managed 18.15 (123).
That piece of information was heartening news for Surfers coach Beau Zorko, who is determined not to let his players suffer a mental letdown with one match – a finals position-defining away match to Wilston-Grange next weekend.
“I’m proud of the effort on Saturday and I certainly can’t fault the endeavour,” said Zorko.
“Palm Beach are a good side and they move the ball very well, but we again showed a willingness to fight a game right out against one of the top sides.”
Surfers had a winner in James Nancarrow, who kicked five goals in roles on a wing and drifting forward.
Skipper Jacob Clark in the middle on PBC’s champion Brad Horn did well, as did ruckman Troy Armstrong and rugged midfielder/forward Dan Green.
It was not all roses for the Lions, who may lost co-captain Matt Carroll after he dislocated a thumb during the contest.
The Lions also lost veteran James Drake, who was a late withdrawal because of back soreness.
But he is expected to be right for next weekend’s derby against Burleigh, when forward Lee Clark and ruckman/forward David Round should also be back in action.
While one co-captain was in the injury wars the other leader, half-back Angus Munro, continued his stellar season as he formed a speedy combination with Arnold Knight for the Lions.
“Angus has been super for the past six or so weeks and has taken his game to a new level,” said O’Brien.
And encouraging news was the continuing promise of teenagers Nick Burton and Stephan Thynne, who played on opposite wings and did plenty of damage.

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