By TERRY WILSON
STAGE one of Palm Beach Currumbin’s quest for QAFL redemption was successfully negotiated when they outpointed their 2019 grand final conquerors Surfers Paradise on Saturday.
A third-term blitz, when Southport (NEAFL) forward Mitch Johnson kicked three of his four goals, carried the Lions to victory by 12.9 (81) to 5.8 (38) before a seriously good crowd at Sir Bruce Small Park.
It was clear that local fans wanted their fix of footy because the crowd at Small Park was in excess of that which attended the AFL match across town at Metricon Stadium.
Both Surfers and PBC barely resembled the teams that went around in that classic 2019 premiership decider when only two points separated them at full-time.
On Saturday PBC fielded a side that contained only 10 of last year’s line-up and Surfers had 14 who were part of that occasion.
But without the retired Dan Green and the Haberfield brothers Brody (injured) and Cassidy (who is concentrating on his muay thai career at the moment), the Demons clearly lacked some firepower. Classy midfielder Jack Yelland, forward/ruck Matt Green and utility Jack Prestegar gave solid contributions to the Demons but the side could not match it with the Lions when the visitors moved the ball quickly and with precision.
Then Demons copped another blow when Joe Grant Medal winner, defender Jack Taylor, failed to finish Saturday’s cash with what appeared to be a bad hamstring strain.
Given the Lions had Jason Burge (knee), Jesse Derrick (retired), Jack Anthony, Liam McNeven and Steve Thynne all absent, coach Jess Sinclair was pretty chuffed by what he saw. “It’s always pleasing to win round one and obviously we wanted to make amends for last year’s grand final,” he said.
“It was a bit of an unknown going in today because it was such a new side and a different look and I had no idea how we would perform.
“But the guys we have had come in were pretty decent as well.
“It’s still early in the year and we have a lot to work on but I have no doubt Surfers will be a lot better when we play them again.”
Sinclair was particularly impressed by what his Lions managed in the third term when, after the Demons crept to within seven points early in the term, they kicked 52 points clear at one stage.
“That showed that when we click it can be devastating,” he said.
Mitch Johnson kicked three of his four goals in the third stanza as he and small forward Brock Askey feasted on the work of ruckman Jon Croad, who was man of the match.
“Jon’s a terrific ruckman and he plays like an extra on-baller for us,” said Sinclair.
“He obviously does a heap of work around the stoppages but the thing we love about him is that he gets out and gets uncontested ball, which is unusual for a ruckman.
“And Brock’s work rate and attack on the ball was massive. He kicked a couple (of goals) and gave a couple more off.”
Skipper Tom Thynne and veteran Jackson Emblem were also very good for the winners.
Maroochydore off to a winning start
COMPETITION new boys Maroochydore hopped straight into the action with a gritty win over Wilston Grange on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
In a dour clash at the Maroochydore Multisports Complex, last year’s QFA Division 1 runners-up scored by 9.10 (64) to 8.4 (52) in what was the club’s first foray into the main state league competition since 1998.
Josh Govan, Jacob Simpson and Mitch Scholard were instrumental as the Roos kept the Gorillas scoreless in the first quarter in which they established their match-winning lead of 13 points.
For the Grange, youngster Corey Gladdish, Kuot Thok and Luca Mason were best.
At Jack Esplen Oval, Morningside finally took control in the last quarter for a 13.9 (87) to 9.10 (64) victory against Labrador.
It was nip and tuck all the way until the three-quarter time siren sounded because the Panthers trailed by a point at the first break, then led by margins of three and four points at the next two intervals.
Their last-term spurt of 5.2 to 2.1 carried them home.
Best for the Panthers were Jack Rolls, Redland player Matt Hammelmann (five goals) and Aspley superstar Matt Payne were best while for the Tigers it was Alex McKay, Southport ruckman Fraser Thurlow and newcomer Matt Lee who stood out.
Out at McCarthy Homes Oval, Sherwood kicked off life under their original name by thrashing Mt Gravatt by 18.13 (121) to 12.6 (78).
It was an ideal start for new coach Anthony McDonald as his players took control from the opening bounce.
The Magpies had Tom Baulch, Liam Dawson and talented big man Aaron Highlands as their best while for the Vultures none were better than Gareth Hunt, Ethan Kerr and Andrew Smith.