By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
If all finals football could be as good as what we saw last week, the pressure is on for the remainder of the teams competing in the Senior competition to live up to that standard.
We had the heart stopper at Sir Bruce Small Park where Morningside held on to a fast-finishing Surfers Paradise to win by six-points after leading by 41-points approaching time-on in the third term; and we had Maroochydore, who after leading by 18-points early in the first term, surrendered the lead to trail by 20-points late in the third, but came back from the brink of defeat to win by 10-points.
We can safely say that both teams have had their moments of worry, but responded well when the pressure was on to come away with the victory and extend their seasons by at least another week.
Meetings in 2021
Round 9 – Morningside 12.9.81 defeated Maroochydore 8.11.59
Round 15 – Morningside 12.8.80 defeated Maroochydore 9.6.60
1 – 9
2 – 7
3 – 9
4 – 6
Comparing these statistics to what unfolded last week, everything stood true to form. The Panthers bolted out of the blocks to lead by four goals to win the opening quarter. While they didn’t win the third quarter, they held a 41-point lead and looked set for victory.
The Panthers have been strong out of the blocks at the start of the match and after half-time; statistically and in real time. They have won 52-percent of their quarters this year.
1 – 6
2 – 8
3 – 9
4 – 13
The last quarter has always been the strongest for the Roos all season and that was clearly evident in last week’s match with the Sharks. After trailing by 20-points, the Roos kicked six unanswered goals to start the final term to hit the front. We shouldn’t be surprised that this team has won 13 out of 15 last quarters, the most of any team in the competition and best overall by any team in any quarter in this stat.
Maroochydore has won eight more quarters in the second half than the first half which is a danger for any team that thinks that they may have them beat, even to three-quarter time, to think again.
Morningside has kicked 149 goals across the season at an average of 10.5 goals per game. It recorded its first win of the season against Surfers Paradise last week, the fifth win against a team in the top six all season to put it on equal wins with Labrador for equal most wins in the competition against the top six.
Maroochydore had only one win against a top six team all season but turned that around when it defeated third placed Redland-Victoria Point to keep its finals hopes alive. To back up its strong second half, it has kicked 119 goals in the second half as opposed to 94 in the first half and a total of 213 goals at an average of 14 per game across the season.
Key players to watch
Saxon Crozier – fresh from his stint with the Brisbane Lions in the VFL and a successful part of the Brisbane Lions Academy Program, he is a brilliant gut runner and a crafty user of the ball. He is tough and hard to beat.
Nathan Colenso – there is just something special about watching this number 32 in action. Time seems to stand still when he gets the ball at half-forward and has a brilliant accurate kick. He has found the goals 25 times.
Bradley Dale – a tremendous player in the backline and is always reliable. If you need a player to put his body on the line to win a crucial contest, he is the player to be called upon.
Jack Whaley – he didn’t get the credit that he deserved last week but when the game was there to be won, his efforts across half back and pushing across to half-forward were critical. He doesn’t need to press inside the arcs to have an impact because it’s his work clearing the ball across half back and getting it inside 50 that’s essential. He is very good at finding space.
Lachlan Robinson – he kicked the goal that turned the game on its head last week. He beat Tom Salter in a key one-on-one at half forward that led to him kicking a goal in the opening few moments of the last quarter. He is small, dangerous and shows plenty of aggression. He does those simple things that force the ball loose or sets up a team mate.
Mitch Scholard – he did get a mention in this space last week, and deserves it again. After turning 30 the day prior to the Elimination Final, he kicked seven goals to lead the Roos to victory last week including 6.0 from set shots. He was Steph Curry with the hot hands from beyond the arc; he did not look like missing when he was shooting for goal. Displays like that in close games like that are some of the reasons you love watching the game on the sidelines, so thanks Mitch.
Morningside almost let the game slip last week. After welcoming a few key Academy players back into the fold, when they were hot, they were hot; but they almost got over-run.
When the Sharks were leading the play last week, Maroochydore was never really out of the contest. It conceded several goals but weren’t clearly out of the game when it wasn’t in control.
If you had to rely on a team to get the job done, you’d probably find that the Roos would be tough to stop, especially as they are the best finishers in the competition. Morningside have more depth on the park but Maroochydore have quality that player to their roles.
The one problem Morningside has is that if Scholard is quite, Maroochydore still has plenty of avenues to goal, especially as the highest scoring team in the competition.
On their day, Morningside could win this comfortably, and it has won the head to head 2-0 this year. It has kept the Roos to two of their three lowest scores of the year.
Given what is at stake, this will probably be the closer of the two Senior finals this weekend.