Cats and Panthers to square off for QAFL title
By TERRY WILSON
BROADBEACH and Morningside will shape up for the QAFL flag after clear-cut wins in their respective Preliminary Finals on Saturday.
Broadbeach continued their unbeaten 2020 run when they beat Sherwood by 9.18 (72) to 4.5 (29) at Subaru Oval on the Gold Coast while Morningside downed Palm Beach Currumbin by 10.17 (77) to 8.10 (58) at Jack Esplen Oval in Brisbane.
The results have set up a Gold Coast-Brisbane Grand Final for the first time since 2015 when Labrador beat Morningside at Leyshon Park in Brisbane.
For Broadbeach it will be only the fifth premiership decider the club has made at seniors level in the 49 years that the Cats have been going.
And when they take on the Panthers at Yeronga they will be chasing only their third flag and their first since 1996 when they won the Gold Coast competition title.
Against Sherwood, the Cats had to work hard against a side that arrived on the Coast with plenty of purpose and intent to do well.
They never really threatened to topple the high-flying Cats but they made them work hard and earned the respect of the home side.
Ahead by 19 points at quarter-time, the Cats kept the pressure on and steadily increased their advantage over the Magpies, who struggled to put a decent score on the board.
And, even though the Cats’ usual goalkickers Jordan Moncrieff (0.3), Clay Cameron (1.3) Connor Nutting (1.2) and Josh Gore (1.1) had limited hauls for the day, the positive for O’Brien was that his side found other ways to put winning numbers on the board.
“Yes, our regular scoring avenues dried up, which is good, that’s a good sign,” said O’Brien.
“They (Sherwood) brought their A game today – and their pressure was really good.
“I think they bottled it up and tried to frustrate us. We haven’t had that sort of pressure for five weeks which is good.
“It wasn’t a pretty game. We looked a bit patchy in periods and didn’t look clean.”
Solidly-built flanker Liam Nelson, who five years ago was playing Gold Coast rugby league for the Nerang Roosters, was a star in his 50th game for the Cats.
Coach O’Brien made a point of moving Nelson from the forward lines to backman duties to help him develop a better understanding of what football is like with the ball coming at him.
Ruckman Stephen Mills, deputising for injured Jed Turner, was also outstanding, while Tyrone Armitage around the ball and flanker Sam Weddell also stood out.
Ever-consistent and hard-at-it midfielder Will Fletcher was again great for Sherwood, as was young Jack Briskey and former Brisbane Lions AFL pair Ryan Harwood and Claye Beams.
Up at Jack Esplen Oval Morningside set Palm Beach Currumbin up for the knockout blow with a first quarter that gave them a 25-point advantage at quarter-time.
It was a case of the Panthers putting a foot on the throat early and keeping it there as they put on 27 scoring shots to 18.
It took a fourth term that netted four unanswered goals that allowed PBC to reduce the final margin significantly.
“The fast start was important,” said Morningside coach Clint Watts.
“That’s because the pressure good from both teams the whole game. It was tough, it was hard.”
Co-Captain Will Pendlebury again stood out in his role of small defender and Reuben William was clean and quick on a wing.
Consistent midfielder Lachlan Russ and ruckman Peter Mollison were also prominent.
For PBC ruck pair Brayden Crossley and Jon Croad were outstanding, while teenager Ethan Hunt did some good things, as did Nick Crowley.
It hurt the Lions deeply to lose their central defender Jackson Emblem only five minutes into the fixture.
The veteran has torn an anterior cruciate ligament and has most likely played his final game for the club given he was considering retirement before this season began.