Panthers salute their first win of the season

Submitted by Chris Yeend

Morningside has tasted its first victory of the 2022 QAFL Home and Away season with an impressive 25-point win over Mt Gravatt at Jack Esplen Oval on Saturday.

The Panthers trailed by 19-points midway through the first term before recovering to hit the front in the second quarter where they stayed until the final siren.

Strong forward Keegan Downie was the star of the match for the winners, finishing with six goals while Lochlan Dignan impressed in his 100thgame for the club with two goals, including a goal with the final kick of the game.

Mt Gravatt had some solid performers with Luke Sullivan, Daine McDonald and Joel Leahy instrumental in the midfield. But it wasn’t enough to help secure the second win of the season for the Vultures that went down in a gruelling contest as part of Sir Doug Nicholls Round in the QAFL.

The Panthers had not taken to the park since its Round 6 clash on the road against Broadbeach with their previous two matches postponed due to poor weather. In that clash, they showed tremendous resilience and fight against the reigning premiers and the 50-point defeat perhaps wasn’t a fair reflection on how the game played out

Mt Gravatt stormed out of the blocks early on a wet and muddy Jack Esplen Oval with young gun Harry Milford scoring the opening goal of the game from a brilliant snap inside the opening minute. Jonah Licht marked and kicked truly several moments later as the visitors opened up a handy 13-point buffer inside the first five-minutes.

Joel Leahy was the key impact player for the Vultures early as he recorded several key inside 50 entries and a number of strong contested possessions.

Morningside opened its account at the 12-minute mark of the quarter through Downie who dropped the mark in the goal square but recovered to kick a timely goal.

Milford responded not too long later with his second for the visitors, and when Ethan Kerr stuck his toe out to get his foot on a loose ball to soccer it through for a goal, they extended the lead to 19-points at the 20-minute mark and looked unbeatable.

When Downie kicked his second goal at the 22-minute of the term, the margin was cut back to just 13-points heading into the first change, and it would be a key goal in the context of the game.  

The second quarter belonged to Morningside who played its best quarter of the season. With Mt Gravatt’s Craig Malone off the ground, Brad Hodge and Max McDonald ignited as a duo in the ruck against Marcus Khoo as the Panthers started dominating the centre clearances.

Jackson Hille impressed on the wing, Sam Godfrey was tireless and Tom Jeffrey was countering everything from half back.

Downie kicked his third goal of the game at the five-minute mark to cut the margin back to a straight kick.

The game turned on its head when Darcy Cameron-Reeves went aerial with an incredible mark 15-metres out from the Panther’s goal and kick truly to level the scores. 

Cameron-Reeves was outstanding at half-forward and while he kicked two goals for the quarter, he also sent the ball inside 50 on a number of occasions.

When Downie kicked his fourth goal just before half-time, the Panthers, to that stage stage had kicked 6.5.41 to nothing and turned a 19-point deficit into a 22-point lead in the space of 35-minutes.

On a ground that played to wet weather conditions on a perfect, sunny, 24 degree day, Morningside opened up a handy 30-point lead when Ryan Dadds kicked a goal on the run to start the second half. That goal would cap off 14 unanswered scoring shots and a remarkable 49-point turn around.

Harry Milford pounced to with a goal to kick the Vultures first score in 44.5-minutes when he kicked truly at the six-minute mark of the term that sparked a run of dominance for the Vultures.

The play spent the next 20-minutes in the forward half for Mt Gravatt with any forward advances from the Panthers met by the golden fist of Gavin Grose who was rock-solid at half-back.

With Malone returning to the field and playing deep forward for the second half, the Vultures looked more dangerous. Malone won a boundary line contest with a magnificent tap over his head to Fletcher Gay-Brown who gathered the ball and snapped it around the body from 30-metres out for a remarkable team lifting goal. Mt Gravatt was back in town.

Zac Young added another several minutes later for the visitors where he picked up the ball and kicked from 50 off a step with the ball travelling like a bullet for a remarkable goal under tremendous pressure at the 14-minute mark. When Bailey Tome kicked truly at the 25-minute mark, the margin was cut back to just two-points with the Roos adding 4.4 to 0.0 in the space of 19-minutes.

Lachlan Dignan marked the ball for the Panthers on three-quarter-time and kicked truly to end the run and send the home team into three-quarter-time full of momentum.

Mt Gravatt drew first blood from the opening centre clearance through Licht for his second and cut the margin back to two goals. When Downie was awarded a free kick at the other end two-minutes later and kicked his fifth goal, the margin would push back out to eight-points. This was the closest that the Vultures would get.

Ironically, at the same time, with both Morningside and Surfers Paradise searching for their first wins of the season, they both led their opposition 70 to 62. Keep that stashed away for the record books.

When Downie kicked his sixth midway through the final term, it was all over. The last kick of the day belonged to 100 game player Dignan who kicked a goal after the siren. In a matter of moments, he was mobbed by team mates and then he was carried off the ground as Dignan and Morningside celebrated a well-deserved maiden win of the 2022 season.

Morningside 13.12.90 defeated Mt Gravatt 9.11.65

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