By Terry Wilson
Surfers Paradise v Morningside
At Sir Bruce Small Park, 2pm Saturday
Ins: Surfers Paradise – Cody Filewood. Morningside – Lachlan Niland-Rowe, Ben McNiece.
Outs: Surfers Paradise – Sam Jewell (concussion). Morningside – Tom Griffiths (inj), Ben Murray (inj).
HEAD-TO-HEAD THIS YEAR:
Round 2: Surfers Paradise 13.7 (85) d Morningside 12.7 (79) at Jack Esplen Oval.
Round 12: Morningside 13.9 (87) d Surfers Paradise 8.10 (58) at Sir Bruce Small Park.
Qualifying final: Surfers Paradise 17.15 (117) d Morningside 11.6 (72) at Sir Bruce Small Park.
WHAT THE COACHES THINK:
Brad Moore: You combine Morningside’s ruck duo and their ground-ball group and it is definitely the best in the competition. Brad Howard had a great game last week, and then there is (Henry) Joyce.
Clint Watts: I watched them against PBC and they played the exact same team and every player in the same position. They don’t change much, they don’t play ducks and drakes, they just back themselves in.
Surfers Paradise are looking to end a 15-season drought when they host Morningside in the QAFL preliminary final at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday.
At stake is a place in next weekend’s grand final against reigning premiers Palm Beach Currumbin at Metricon Stadium.
The last time the Demons played in a grand final was back in 2004, in the AFLSQ Division 1 decider under John Millane when they lost to the Strathpine Swans, so it has been a long time between drinks for the club.
This time around and it is the 2014 QAFL premiers Morningside standing in the way of a shot at redemption and it goes without saying that the Brisbane club will head down the M1 full of confidence after a resounding semi-final win against Broadbeach last Sunday.
It is worth remembering that Morningside go into Saturday’s cash as last-start winners. Surfers go in as losers after succumbing to Palm Beach Currumbin in the second semi-final.
As usual there are any number of theories regarding Morningside. Do they have the leg speed to match it with the Demon gazelles? Do they have the capacity to handle a big ground?
Remember that it was at Small Park that Surfers put on a first quarter of 8.4 to 1.2 before the Panthers settled and scored 10.4 to 9.11 for the remainder of the qualifying final.
Panthers coach Clint Watts said he has watched video footage of that first quarter several times and that the Demons managed to get around, rather than through the middle, of his players.
Watts preferred to look at the way his side responded to that first-quarter effort – and he also highlighted the way the Panthers played against Broadbeach when they backed up last weekend.
This time it has been only a six-day break for the Panthers although Watts said the atmosphere at training this week has been great and that full recovery has been completed.
Watts has a huge advantage in that his ruck duo Peter Mollison and Brad Hodge are arguably the best in the QAFL and that they absolutely dominated against Broadbeach.
This is an area where the Demons have to conjured ways to nullify the Mollison-Hodge threat, especially now they have lost one of their options Sam Jewell.
Jewell copped a heavy knock at the first bounce of last weekend’s clash with PBC and, even though he trained lightly on Thursday night, has been ruled out.
Taking his place is forward specialist Cody Filewood, the Southport-listed player, which suggests that Matt Green will spend a lot of time partnering young Thompson Smith in the ruck.
The inclusion of Filewood means this will be the first time in three weeks that the Demons have made a change.
Morningside have lost Ben Murray and Tom Griffiths, both injured against Broadbeach, and replaced them with midfielder Lachlan Niland-Rowe and defender Ben McNiece, both players who have plenty of seniors experience.
Surfers coach Brad Moore does not expect a first quarter of similar domi8nance as when the sides clashed in the qualifier.
And the Panther ruck combo is an area of concern, he agrees.
“We’re going to have to be creative coming up against probably the best ruck duo in the competition,” said Moore.
And as for events of the opening term the last time the sides clashed, Moore said: “Obviously they’ll be working to make sure it won’t happen again but we’ll be doing our best and hope to replicate it.”
Saturday’s reserves preliminary final is between Palm Beach Currumbin and Morningside at 11.30am.
The colts prelim between Western Magpies and Wilston Grange has been switched to McCarthy homes Oval in Brisbane starting at 10am.