Coolangatta Tweed 5.7.37 defeated Yeronga South Brisbane 4.11.35
It was what dreams are made of, with two points deciding Saturday’s QWAFL Grand Final.
It was by far the best game of 2016; physical, tight and outstanding. From the first bounce, it was on. Coolangatta was hot early, kicking with the breeze to the scoring end.
It started perfectly for the Bluebirds, captain Leah Kaslar tapping down to the roving Nikki Wallace who sent the ball forward; vintage Cooly.
17 year-old and U18 All Australian, Kalinda Howarth drew first blood, kicking a set shot from 35m out, right in front.
The first ten minutes really painted the picture; intensity in every tackle, shepherd and smother, and three players down before we even passed the halfway mark of the first quarter.
The Bluebirds hit the scoreboard again after locking the ball in the forward half; the Devils were on the back foot against the wind.
Kaslar was everywhere, doing everything; rucking then roving her own tap, tackling, you name it.
After five minutes of forward fifty pressure the Devils finally hit the scoreboard, thanks to a freakish Hayley Newberry snap from the pocket.
The Devils took advantage of the wind early in the second, Caitlin Collins – who spent the majority of her night down back – pushing forward to kick a brilliant running drop punt on the tightest of angles.
Cooly’s Jordan Membrey quickly snatched a goal back, giving the Bluebirds a chance to take a breath with a slight 8-point lead. Neither side was able to break away before half time.
Both teams came out breathing fire in the second half. Ruby Blair meant business for Cooly in the opening minutes. She evaded two players on the half forward line, and sent the ball down to a loose Jordan Membrey, who strolled into the goal.
This was the only goal kicked in the third quarter; the Devils pushed forward plenty but weren’t able to capitalise on the scoreboard. The Yeronga defensive line was holding up brilliantly despite the absence of centre-half back, Danielle Wall, who was injured in last week’s preliminary.
It was two goals in favour or the Bluebird heading into the final term with Yeronga coach, Scott Stephens, urging his side to do whatever it takes in their final 30 minutes of the year.
It was all Yeronga in the opening ten minutes, they had the footy and the intent, and it quickly paid off with Hayley Newberry kicking their first.
The Devils managed to steal a couple of crucial behinds, which turned the match into a one kick game.
Caitlin Collins was easily the best on ground in the final quarter, intercepting mark after mark and giving her side the belief they needed to take the game into their hands.
Then Kate McCarthy did something amazing. She kicked and collected the ball three times, gaining territory, before throwing it onto her boot from 45m out. The ball bounced and swerved before rolling through.
The Devils had the lead and all the momentum was running home with them. Someone needed to stand up for Cooly, and who other than the QWAFL leading goal kicker, Kalinda Howarth, kicking her first major for the day/
She was in the same position, 35m out, right in front where she loves to be, except this time she was at the other end, kicking into the wind. But it sailed over the goal umpire’s head; the Bluebirds had regained the lead.
The last few minutes were absolute chaos, Yeronga went forward one last time and the kick dribbled towards goal again. They weren’t so lucky this time, and it hit the post.
The Yeronga crowd was in agony. The ball went back up towards the middle of the field, but in the end, time wasn’t on the Devils side and the siren sounded the end of their 2016 season.
Check out the live blog recap from the game at aflq-new.fspdev.com
Coolangatta 2.4, 3.5, 4.7, 5.7 (37)
Yeronga 1.2, 2.4, 2.7, 4.11 (35)
Coolangatta K. Howarth 3, J. Membrey, E. O’Brien
Yeronga H. Newberry 2, K. McCarthy
By Jess Stewart