QUEENSLAND kicked five unanswered goals in the final quarter to claim an upset nine-point win over NSW/ACT at Visy Park on Saturday.
Queensland trailed by four goals at the last change – having kicked only three goals to three-quarter time – before dominating the fourth term to win 8.8 (56) to 7.5 (47), keeping the Rams scoreless.
It kept alive Queensland’s slim hopes of winning the division two title, meaning it, Tasmania (the only unbeaten team) and NSW/ACT will fight for the title on Thursday in round five of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships at Victoria Park.
Reeling reeling from a 69-point, Round 3 loss to Tasmania in Hobart last week, the Scorpions faced a confident NSW/ACT Rams team fresh from a morale boosting 110-point win over the Northern Territory.
Despite winning plenty of the football and leading the contested ball stats, Queensland again found it difficult to score early in the game and were ineffective in disposal at crucial times.
NSW/ACT looked dangerous – especially up forward – with Max King kicking two early goals and Jake Barrett snapping a miraculous left foot snap to slip away to a 22-point lead before Queensland’s James Ives got the Scorpions going with a nice kick.
Despite another unlikely snap and goal effort from Caleb Hay, the Rams looked in control when King kicked his third to give them a by 14-point lead at the main break.
Goals were hard to come by in an even third term before Cassidy Haberfield took a courageous mark to get the Scorpions within 8-points of their traditional rivals.
A controversial free kick to Rams Isaac Heeney steadied the ship for the Rams, with two more late goals giving them what looked like an unassailable 24-point lead at the final break.
The Scorpions defence led by Liam Dawson and Luke Rogerson were rock solid and Aden Rutledge had quietened the dangerous King.
In the midfield, Isaac Conway, Tyler Cornish and Lachlan Weller were winning plenty of the footy but when they went forward the Queensland forwards found it hard to find space.
Coach Ray Windsor moved Aden Rutledge forward and Stephen Mills to defence at three-quarter time, with both moves proving crucial in a last quarter Scorpions surge.
Firstly James Ives, then Aden Rutledge, banged through goals to narrow the margin, and when Josh Stiller marked and received a 50-metre penalty to goal, the Scorpions crept to within a kick of the lead.
Rutledge was dominating in the air and when he took another towering mark and found Matthew Hammelmann with a perfect pass, the youngster coolly slotted the goal to out the Scorpions in the lead with only 3 minutes left on the clock.
The Scorpions were inspired with plenty of run and held the ball in their forward half for much of the last minutes of the game.
James Ives snapped his third goal with a kick over his head near the goal square just prior to the final siren sounding to give Queensland boys a 9-point win.
Coach Ray Windsor was very pleased with the courage and resilience shown by the team who refused to roll over.
He was especially impressed with the leadership shown by Isaac Conway, Luke Rogerson and Aden Rutledge in the crucial final quarter.
Queensland will take on Northern Territory at 11.00 am Thursday 4 July at Victoria Park in the final Round 5 of the Nab AFL National Championships.
NSW/ACT 1.4 4.5 7.5 7.5 (47)
Queensland 0.1 2.3 3.5 8.8 (56)
NSW/ACT: King 4, Barrett, Edwards, Heeney
Queensland: Ives 3, Haberfield, Hammelmann, Hay, Rutledge, Stiller
NSW/ACT: Jansen, Clothier, King, Perris, Heeney, Green
Queensland: Dawson, Rutledge, Ives, Conway, Tickner, Smith
Round Five matches
Wednesday July 3 – Etihad Stadium
3.35pm South Australia v Western Australia
5.35pm Vic Country v Vic Metro
Thursday July 4 – Victoria Park
11am Queensland v Northern Territory
1.15pm NSW/ACT v Tasmania