Morningside stayed in the race for the QAFL minor premiership with a gritty 13-point win over Southport in a fluctuating contest at Esplen Oval.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Morningside’s defensive pressure proved the difference as the Panthers ground out an important 13-point victory over Southport in another epic clash between the two great QAFL clubs at Esplen Oval today.

In a game of three distinct momentum shifts, the Sharks kicked five of the first six goals, conceded 11 of the next 15 through the middle stages, then surged to get within seven points late in the final term.

A goal after the final siren by Panthers full-forward Shaun Mugavin extended the final score to 15.14 (104) to 13.13 (91) at the finish.

Southport’s two best performed midfielders Danny Wise and Darren Pfeiffer helped the Sharks get off to a flyer, despite Wise conceding two free kicks for off-the-ball infringements in the opening five minutes.

With Matthew Payne helping out the dynamic duo in defence and running freely down the ground, the Sharks booted five goals in 11 minutes to lead 5.3 to 1.3 at the 24-minute mark of the opening term.

However, in a 35-minute first quarter, Morningside moved back to within 21 points at the first break due mainly to some super work by Damien Bonney and Aaron Rogers.

Bonney won plenty of ball and kicked a miracle goal under pressure on the boundary line from 55m.

Jacob Gough, celebrating his 200th game, was quiet early but put his body on the line to win a free kick and goal on the stroke of quarter-time.

It seemed to inspire the big man, whose palming of the ball in the second quarter gave his midfielders and armchair ride.

Gough batted the ball to the advantage of Bonney, who goalled within 15 seconds of the restart.

Sensing danger at quarter-time, Morningside’s attack on the football was fierce throughout the second term and the Sharks began to turn over the ball under heavy pressure.

The half-back line in particular began to dominate with Aaron Rogers destroying the ball and rebounding at will, and Jarrod Price backing him up superbly in the last line of defence.

Sam Faure engaged in a gripping battle with David James for most of the day, and the lively Faure took control for a key period during the second term.

Connor Petterson was a livewire in the first half and his interception and goal against the run of play helped the Sharks stay in front by six points at the long break.

Morningside’s relentless pressure continued in the third term, drawing level 10 minutes into the term and kicking 21 points clear at the last change. Their lead should have been greater, with posters – on the inside edge – to Gough and Tyson Upton denying the Panthers.

Running half-back Nathan Kinch came into the game strongly in the third term and the defence conceded just 1.2 for the period.

Youngster Tom Bell did plenty of good work and Rogers reigned supreme by this stage.

Wise and Pfeiffer weren’t quite as prominent as the warm weather and hard running began to take a toll, with Adam Devine doing a power of work across half-back and Michael Wise trying to lift his side.

The Sharks lifted their intensity at the start of the fourth term and kicked the all-important first goal four minutes in courtesy of Devine, who ran the length of the ground off Paul Shelton to take a big mark 15m out.

Devine again ran forward to make a crucial intercept and set up Ben Merrett three minutes later to reduce the margin to nine points.

Bonney got the steadier for the Panthers following a sensational tackle on big Dean Putt, who had been useful around the ground for the Sharks.

Putt made the mistake and grabbing Bonney high as he got up and conceded 50m, allowing the Panther to goal from the square.

Both sides threw themselves into the fray and Luke Wilson got free from Price to goal halfway through the quarter, only for Shelton to take a spectacular mark over Devine and goal at the 21-minute mark.

The Sharks refused to die and Danny Wise popped up to goal two minutes later to reduce the margin to eight points.

The ball swung between the half-back lines before Brett Davis missed from 35m at the 26-minute mark, the Panthers sweeping the ball forward from the resultant kick-in and Mugavin marking and goalling after the siren.

“We had significant control of the game in the first quarter, they came back at us and we didn’t adjust,” said Southport coach Craig Crowley. “They got momentum and we couldn’t pull them up.

“We came back hard at the end, our last quarter was good.

“We didn’t win the disputed ball and they were able to get it out and run away. We did that in the first quarter and looked good, but they controlled the stoppages better than we did after that.

“13 points was probably a fair indicator. They had a good two and a half quarters and we had a good quarter and a half.

Panthers coach John Blair was ‘very pleased’ with a win that took Morningside to within a game of Southport and Labrador, and kept them two games clear of fourth with four games to play.

“They have got a lot of good players who know what they’re doing,” Blair said. “They’re a good footy side so to get close to them and beat them was very good.”

Blair was more than satisfied with the work of his back six.

“The young kids down there ran and worked the ball and ‘Rodgo’ and ‘Pricey’ gave us two solid bricks to work off,” he said.

Blair also had plenty of praise for milestone man Gough, who chopped off a number of Southport attacks across half-back in the last quarter.

Gough has played the last two weeks with a painful shoulder complaint, but showed few signs of it.

“He’s just a fantastic bloke and fantastic player,” Blair said.

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