By Harry Krebs
North Queensland survived a late fight back from Queensland Diversity, to snatch a 10.6 (66) -8.12 (60) win in their opening State U16 Academy Championship match.
The ball bounced and in the first 10 minutes Qld Diversity turned on the attack, kicking two goals.
The North Queensland defence and midfield battled through and helped their team kick four goals to end the quarter on a high note.
It was a real arm wrestle when the second quarter started, until North Queensland gained the upper hand with their midfield working overtime.
Diversity fought back hard with Jonathan Macanawi and Malachi Songoror keeping their team’s engine running, but could only assist in the one goal.
When the third quarter came around, the breeze had picked up and caused quite a stir for North Queensland, who found it hard from the bounce.
The Diversity forwards showed plenty of class and kicked four unanswered goals to take the lead 47-46.
The final quarter was on and almost straight away North Queensland answered Diversity what they couldn’t before by kicking a beautiful goal.
It was anyone’s game in the last 10 minutes with both teams playing hard footy, until the North Queensland forwards broke through twice to score two game-winning goals.
North Queensland coach Tony Burke was pleased with the win, but said his team took their feet off the gas in parts.
“We were complacent especially in the third quarter, and you just can’t do that,” Burke said.
“We had to play catch-up footy in the last quarter,” Burke said.
“But you’ve got to understand that these boys have never played together before, and I think they played very well considering that,” Burke said.
Qld Diversity coach Anthony Corrie was proud of his team’s efforts in the game, in the side’s inaugural State Academy Championships campaign.
“They can hold their heads up high. They showed their natural flair,” Corrie said.
“What I tell them to do they do, they’re a great bunch of kids,” Corrie said.
“I tell these guys it’s not about winning or losers, if you’re playing and not having fun at the same time, it’s not worth playing,” Corrie said.
Qld Diversity goal kickers: Jonathan Macanawi (3), Braiden Buyongii (2), Angus Johnston (1), Bailey Manuel-Isaacs (1), Elijah Baru (1).
Qld Diversity best players: Malachi Songoror, Jack Macanawi, Jonathan Peeters, Aaron Yusia, Mabior Chol.
North Queensland goal kickers: Riley Guest (3), Jack Dickson (3), Ben Dempsey (1), Jack Bowes (1), Micah Fitzsimmons (1).
North Queensland best players: Jack Dickson, Josh Redsell, Shawn Watson, Micah Fitzsimmons, Jack Bowes.