THE minor premiership, carrying with it the bonus of a home second semi-final, looks at the mercy of defending champions Noosa after they powered to an emphatic win over 2010 grand final rivals Sandgate on Saturday.
The Tigers, with fresher legs following their round 15 bye, ran all over the top of the tiring, injury-besieged Hawks to win by 12.16 (88) to 7.5 (47) at Lemke Road Oval.

By Terry Wilson

The result, added to a win by Wilston-Grange and the Western Magpies having the bye, means there are four teams level on 44 points at the top of the ladder, but Noosa’s healthy percentage of 178.7 puts them in pole position to take the Pineapple Hotel Cup minor premiership with two rounds to go before the finals.
Sandgate, on the other hand, have gone from possible minor premiers to a situation where they now are a big chance to miss the vital top-three for the finals – and even the possibility of an elimination final away to Palm Beach-Currumbin.
But things are looking good for Noosa, the defending premiers.
“We were well aware of the situation because there was a fair bit at stake,” said Noosa coach Wayne Fletcher, who is still to miss a finals campaign in his fourth season at the Tigers.
“So I was pretty rapt with the way our guys responded.
“But there are still two games to go and we’re focussed only on Coolangatta next weekend. We want to retain top spot so we’re not looking any further ahead than that.”
Fletcher praised his players for their four-quarter performance, matching fire with fire early, then clinically despatching the Hawks in the last quarter when they put on 6.4 to 1.3.
Up to the final stanza, things were fairly even. Noosa led by five points at quarter-time, scores were level at half-time and the Tigers again held the lead by 10 points at three-quarter time.
There were any number of star performers for Noosa, with half-back flanker Todd Panoho, full-forward Danny Brewster (four goals), half-forward flanker Chris McGuigan and ruckman Peter Trompf particularly dominant.
Noosa came through the scrap relatively unscathed, but for Sandgate, their injuries woes increased.
Captain-coach Ben Long reported ruckman/forward Brendan Forbes (broken ribs) and defender Jason Anthonisz (hamstring) have probably played their last games for the season. Which is a pity because both featured i8n Sandgate’s best players’ list.
Long said there were some other concerns, although he declined to reveal who they were as the Hawks prepare for next weekend’s away clash with Maroochy-Northshore.
Asked why the Hawks were blown away in the last quarter, Long said: “It really started in the first quarter.
“I thought we were dominant then but we didn’t convert. But we also gave away six 50-metre penalties in that term which hurt us – and I was not happy with most of those decisions.
“Then Noosa dominated the second half and took their chances.
“They had the bye last weekend, we’d had two tough games in a row and whether that caught up with us, I don’t know, but our on-ballers ran out of legs.”
Long agreed a top-three finish for the finals is now a tough ask, the Hawks relying on an upset or two elsewhere, their fate hinging largely on Surfers Paradise.
Over the remaining two rounds, the Demons play Wilston-Grange and Palm Beach-Currumbin, with Sandgate needing them to spring an upset.
“So we’re massive Surfers Paradise fans for the rest of the year,” said Long. “The only way we look like finishing top three is if they can beat Wilston-Grange and Palm Beach.”
Away from Forbes and Anthonisz (on Brewster), whose opponents featured in Noosa’s best, the Hawks were well served by on-baller/forward Ben Beaven and ruckman Michael Pettit.

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