By Terry Wilson
Morningside shrugged off a horrible bout of gross inaccuracy with a convincing win over cross-Brisbane rivals Western Magpies at McCarthy Homes Oval on Sunday.
The Panthers had 33 scoring shots to 11 but still managed a clear-cut win, by 11.22 (88) to 5.6 (36), in a result that should have set off alarm bells in the Magpies camp.
In a game that was pretty intense in close, it was the Panthers who broke into the clear far more often despite the Magpies dropping numbers back in defence.
Morningside coach Clint Watts, who was rapt in the all-round term performance, promised some extra goalkicking sessions at training this week.
Chief offenders in the missing stakes were Sam Godfrey (0.4), Eddie Mallan (0.3), Luke Rogerson (0.3) and Nathan Colenso, who added three behinds to his three goals.
As well, the Panthers had three goal attempts go out of bounds on the full and they added three posters.
But that area was the only sore point for the marauding Panthers who really put the home side to the sword in the final term.
“You were magnificent out there today,” Watts told his troops afterwards.
Those were encouraging and well-meaning words because the Panthers really exposed some weaknesses in the Magpie line-up.
While they were still in the game until the final quarter, thanks to the inaccuracy of the Panthers, the Magpies could not mount any scoreboard pressure as the visitors spent a greater percentage of time in their attacking zone.
Watts has introduced a number of key performance indicators to Morningside and one of them, tackling, was especially high on Sunday.
The Panthers demand 80 tackles per game. They had 81 on Saturday including an unheard-of 34 in the fourth term.
“None of us had seen numbers like that before,” said Watts.
“If there was a time inside 50 statistic taken we would have blown that apart. And we’ve monstered them in clearances.”
Ruckman Brad Hodge was outstanding, ‘ridiculously good’ as Watts described him, while Luke Rogerson and Daniel Frame were also good in stints in the key role.
Around the ground James Rayner, Will Pendlebury and Lachlan Russ stood out, as did first-gamer Hiovake Livesey.
Livesey was a bright light for Morningside after coming in as a late replacement for captain and ruckman Peter Mollison, who sliced his thumb with a hedge trimmer on Saturday afternoon.
Livesey moved to Morningside from Yeronga in the off-season. His father is a Kiwi and his mother is from Papua New Guinea, got better and better as the game went on.
“He can do things other players can’t do,” said Watts. “He gives us what we want as far as tackling and pressure and he can take a catch above his head.”
The loss could come back to haunt the Magpies later in the season because they are sitting sixth a game out of the top five.
But they seriously need to find some forward firepower because that was the second game in a row against genuine flag contenders that they failed to find any scoring power.
Their effort was pretty good, though, and they will continue to trouble opponents – as long as they can maintain a fair percentage of possession.
Their best on Sunday were hard-working defender Jayden Gallagher, midfielder Dan Edwards, utility Riley Greene and former Brisbane AFL player Claye Beams.
Morningside 2.6, 3.11, 5.16, 11.22 (88)
Western Magpies 0.2, 2.4, 3.5, 5.6 (36)
GOALS, Morningside: N. Colenso 4, J. Rayner 2, B. McNiece 1, L. Russ 1, L. Dignan 1, R. Dadds 1, L. Rogerson 1. Western Magpies: L. Dennis 1, A. Highlands 1, C. Beams 1, J. Austin 1, D. Edwards 1.
BEST, Morningside: B. Hodge, H. Joyce, D. Frame, N. Beck, L. Rogerson, N. Colenso. Western Magpies: J. Gallagher, D. Edwards, R. Greene, L. Winton, C. Beams, W. Fletcher.