By Terry Wilson
Image: Highflyer Images
The Morningside faithful celebrated hard and long after one of the most outstanding days of football promotion success at Jack Esplen Oval on Saturday.
One of the biggest crowds seen at a Brisbane suburban match was there for the NEAFL/QAFL double-header.
But the matches between Redland and GWS Giants (NEAFL) and Morningside and Mt Gravatt (QAFL) were only part of a rollicking good time in the eastern suburbs.
It was Pink Panther Day to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House and it was also a premiership reunion for Morningside, who won all three grand finals in 2009 – ironically including the seniors who beat Mt Gravatt.
So it was probably destined that the Panthers ended a huge afternoon with wins in colts, reserves and seniors against Mt Gravatt.
The Panthers beat the Vultures by 29 points in the seniors and took full advantage of the loss by previously second-placed Surfers Paradise at Western Magpies, where the home side prevailed by 20 points in a low-scoring affair.
Elsewhere finals dark horses Labrador, premiers in 2015 and 2016, jumped to fifth on standings with a win over battling Sandgate and 2017-2018 champions Palm Beach Currumbin maintained their unbeaten run by overcoming Wilston Grange.
— Morningside Panthers (@MorningsideFC) June 16, 2019
Panthers set up blockbuster clash with premiers PBC
Morningside have jumped to second spot on the QAFL ladder by beating cross-Brisbane rivals Mt Gravatt in a nice warm-up for a blockbuster clash next weekend against reigning premiers Palm Beach Currumbin next weekend.
The Panthers took the spoils by 17.10 (112) to 13.5 (83) at Jack Esplen Oval after trailing at half-time before a second half that produced 9.8 to 4.1.
The big frame of Panther skipper and regular ruckman Peter Mollison provided perhaps the most telling period of the game when he kicked three goals in the second term at a stage when the Vultures had taken a 19-point lead.
The Vultures were 17 points down at quarter-time but kicked six majors straight before Mollison broke the run in the 27th minute. He added two more before the big break to have the home side trailing by seven points.
After some tactical tinkering by coach Clint Watts the Panthers took control and choked the run out of the visitors with a lift in tackling work rate.
That was, Mt Gravatt coach Adam Boon agreed, when the Vultures lost momentum.
“Credit to Morningside, they kept the ball on the inside after half-time and that shut down our running game,” said Boon.
For the first 20 minutes of that telling second term the Vultures looked to have had the measure of their rivals.
But when Watts called for a lift in tackling pressure, the home side responded superbly, leading to their second half of dominance.
Mollison ended up with four goals but the leading light up front for the Panthers was 17-year-old Nathan Colenso, a Rising Star Award nomination from round one.
The teenager kicked six goals and Watts had no doubts that the effort was a key ingredient in the Panthers’ success.
It was not so long ago that Colenso was dropped back to the reserves, so to turn that around was good to see.
“He works hard on his game and he got some real reward for it,” said Watts.
“He has definitely responded (to getting dropped) because he has a terrific attitude for a 17-year-old and he works as hard on his game as anyone.”
Ben McNiece playing as a wing/half-forward and Hiovake Livesey on the ball were other key Panthers to shine.
While Morningside play PBC next weekend, Mt Gravatt have a huge home match against Broadbeach.
Boon conceded that the loss has applied some heat on his charges because they are now sixth on the ladder, a win out of the five.
“But we’re not far off fifth,” he said. “Win a couple and we’re back in it.”
Best for the Vultures were captain and ruck Andrew Smith, Jimmy London tagging Panther goal sneak Eddie Mallan, first-gamer Justin Currie and captain Chris Murphy.
Morningside 5.1, 8.2, 12.5, 17.10 (112)
Mt Gravatt 2.2, 9.3, 10.5, 13.5 (83)
GOALS, Morningside: N. Colenso 6, P. Mollison 4, B. McNiece 1, J. Rayner 1, W. Pendlebury 1, M. Serrurier 1, B. Howard 1, S. Godfrey 1, A. Evans 1. Mt Gravatt: S. Stubbs 2, J. Wratten 2, D. Nash 2, A. Smith 1, M. Doust 1, M. Hart 1, B. Daly 1, J. Licht 1, F. Neate 1, C. McGuren 1.
BEST, Morningside: P. Mollison, B. McNiece, N. Colenso, H. Livesey, B. Aston, J. Rayner. Mt Gravatt: A. Smith, J. London, J. Currie, C. Murphy, J. Leahy, J. Green.
Magpies warming up for a charge at the finals
The Western Magpies are confident that the returns of a number of their leadership group, including skipper David Lewis, will lead to a late-season charge to the finals.
With Lewis back on deck, and former Brisbane Lions pair Ryan Harwood and Claye Beams firing up, the Magpies were way too good for Surfers Paradise at McCarthy Homes Oval on Saturday.
The Magpies won by 7.16 (58) to 5.8 (38) in a low-scoring affair, although Magpies coach Brydan Morgan thought his side should have had at least 100 points on the board given the number of chances they had.
“Generating scoring shots against a side like Surfers is the important thing,” said Morgan, pointing to the 23 scoring opportunities the Magpies had compared to the 13 of Surfers.
The only negative for the home side was obviously kicking for goal where the most damning statistics were the 1.5 in the second term and 2.6 in the last.
“We had two posters in the last quarter and a lot of the other chances were from set shots.
“We had probably six or seven ‘getables’ that we missed.”
That issue aside the Magpies did, as Morgan suggested, dominate possession around the contests, which allowed them to keep the Demons under the hammer.
“We owned time in forward half statistics,” said Morgan.
“We dominated clearances and if you do that, the way the game is played these days, you’re a big show.
“The main thing we changed was things around stoppages knowing how Surfers play the game – and it worked it to the letter.
“And we can say we had 16 or 17 players who could say they won their position on the day.”
Harwood kicked four goals in the low-scoring affair but best for the Magpies was 2018 Rising Star Award winner Riley Easton who had a big day on the ball.
Luca Winton in defence and utility Jack Goodall were two other stars for the winners.
The win left the Magpies in seventh spot on the ladder but they are only one win behind fifth-placed Labrador.
Surfers had a number of defenders, most notably Jacki Prestegar and Brody Haberfield in the best six and Josh Matulis worked overtime against the rampant Magpies midfielders.
The Demons now play Coast rivals Labrador in a clutch away game next week. The Magpies have the bye.
Western Magpies 3.2, 4.7, 5.10, 7.16 (58)
Surfers Paradise 0.3, 1.6, 3.6, 5.8 (38)
GOALS, Western Magpies: R. Harwood 3, L. Dennis 1, Z. Lovell 1, J. Austin 1, B. Reville 1. Surfers Paradise: S. Hilton-Joyce 2, D. Van De Werken 1, D. Stubbs 1, C. Haberfield 1.
BEST, Western Magpies: R. Easton, R. Harwood, L. Winton, J. Austin, J. Goodall, C. Beams. Surfers Paradise: J. Prestegar, B. Haberfield, J. Matulis, M. Green, N. Scott, C. Haberfield.
Lions lift after call from coach Sinclair
When Palm Beach Currumbin coach Jesse Sinclair called on his midfielders to step up and take the baton two players in particular, Tyler Cornish and Tom Thynne responded.
The on-ball duo played starring roles as the Lions ran over the top of Wilston Grange in their clash at Salk Oval on Saturday.
Appearing to be in trouble at half-time, after a term when the Gorillas dominated through big men Nate Dennis, Dylan Reid, Jack Tomkinson and Trent Aarons who were threatening as forwards, the Lions regrouped and went on to win by 17.19 (121) to 10.6 (66).
That final scoreline flattered PBC because they looked far from an unbeaten ladder leader when the Gorillas came at them in the second quarter.
Missing Liam McNeven the Lions lacked height and looked vulnerable as the visitors put on 5.1 to 3.4 for the term.
That was when Sinclair called for a lift from his midfield brigade because he knew their runners could carve the Gorillas right up with their run and carry.
“That was as hard as we expected them to be because we knew for sure they were going to come here to play,” said Sinclair.
“And they certainly did that and after quarter-time they started winning the arm wrestle, their clearances were on top and we had some worries because they were getting on top everywhere and stretching us up forward with their height.”
That was when the onus was thrown over to the likes of Cornish and Tom Thynne.
“We put it on the middies and Tyler responded with three goals in the second half,” said Sinclair.
“Tom Thynne overcame a hard tag and kicked a goal and Angus Munro showed again why he is such a reliable half-back.”
At the head of the Lions attack was Southport-listed Mitch Johnson, who started with a bang with three first-term goals on his way to a final haul of 7.2.
In many ways what PBC did after half-time highlighted just what Wilston Grange need – a couple of consistent ball-winners in the middle.
They have plenty of tall timber but as coach Barry O’Brien noted, they are one or two on-ballers short of what is needed.
And finding a winning mentality is also needed as the Gorillas develop.
“The first quarter it was five goals to nil then in the last quarter they scored four goals in the first 10 minutes – that’s nine goals and in the end what was the difference? Nine goals,” he said.
“At the end of the day we probably gave them a better performance than they expected but the boys just can’t maintain it for four quarters.”
Daniel Farry in the centre was clearly best for the Gorillas, along with Dennis in the ruck, Jackson Coulter, Luca Mason and Angus O’Brien.
Palm Beach Currumbin 4.5, 7.9, 11.13, 17.19 (121)
Wilston Grange 0.2, 5.3, 7.4, 10.6 (66)
GOALS, Palm Beach Currumbin: M. Johnson 7, T. Cornish 3, J. Derrick 2, R. Harris 2, T. Thynne 1, D. Troutman 1, B. Askey 1. Wilston Grange: T. Aarons 3, J. Tomkinson 2, L. Mason 1, D. Farry 1, D. Reid 1, H. Warren 1, N. McFadyen 1.
BEST, Palm Beach Currumbin: T. Cornish, A. Munro, C. McBurnie, T. Thynne, J. Croad. Wilston Grange: D. Farry, N. Dennis, J. Coulter, L. Mason, A. O’Brien, N. Dickson.
Tigers leave it until late to clinch victory
Labrador became the fourth Gold Coast club sitting in the QAFL top five after a hard-fought win away to Sandgate on Saturday.
The Tigers took until late in the fourth quarter to finally overcome the feisty Hawks and take four precious premiership points by 14.7 (91) to 10.7 (67) at Lemke Road Oval.
On paper, a four-goal win may appear comfortable enough yet it was far from that because the youthful Hawks really took it up to the Tigers until red time in the final term.
After trailing by 19 points at the first break, then by 23 at half-time, Sandgate fought back to the stage when they were only a goal down at the 26-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
It was then that Matty Watmuff broke the hearts of the Hawks when he goaled a minute later, a kick that sparked a three-goal late run by the visitors.
“That goal gave Labrador a little break and once they got 11 points up the steam went out of our young blokes,” said Sandgate coach Jarad Marsh.
“Our ball use was pretty good but I think the issue was that once we got to within a goal of Labrador they didn’t know how to win because they haven’t been in that position very often.”
Marsh said his back six played well and most of his match-ups worked but it was just that inexperience factor that kicked in to prove costly.
Half-back Mitch Crawley took some good marks across a half-back line, Aspley-listed ruckman Luke Bradford added some much-needed physical presence to the Hawks and young Max Homer did well tagging Labrador midfielder Alex McKay.
Over in the Labrador camp they were happy with Jaicob Kenny at centre half-back, 19-year-old Jarrod Mills on the ball, ruckman Andy Hollis and second gamer Matt Fraser on a wing.
“They took it right up to us for the whole game,” said coach Liam Burke.
“It was a pretty hard game, not free-flowing because of pressure applied from both sides, so it was good to get away with the win.
“I reckon they (Sandgate) will challenge a few sides in the run home.”
The Tigers leapt into fifth spot on standings but their fate will surely be determined over the next three weekends when they play Surfers Paradise (home), followed by a bye, then Broadbeach (away) and Palm Beach Currumbin (home).
By the end of that run the finals fate of the Tigers will be known.
Labrador 3.2, 6.5, 9.6, 14.7 (91)
Sandgate 0.1, 2.6, 6.7, 10.7 (67)
GOALS, Labrador; M. Watmuff 3, B. Retzlaff 3, R. Coombe 3, J. Young 1, M. Lakeman 1, E. Baru 1, B. Fagan 1, J. Mills 1. Sandgate: A. Fabian 3, J. Maynard 2, J. Preval 2, D. Paino 1, M. Hutchinson 1, J. Harding 1.
BEST, Labrador: J. Kenny, J. Mills, A. Hollis, A. McKay, M. Fraser, M. Lakeman. Sandgate: M. Crawley, M. Homer, L. Bradford, J. Harding, A. Fabian, J. Maynard.