Submitted by Chris Yeend
It may not have been a battle between two of the top two sides in the competition; but the contest between Wilston Grange and Maroochydore in Round 15 action at Hickey Park on Saturday may have just produced a contender for match of the year.
With both teams vying for a spot in the top six; these two fierce competitors threw everything at each other in a Saturday afternoon classic that saw Maroochydore edge over the line by three-points thanks to a 55-metre goal on the run from Lukas Kangar in the last 90-seconds.
Maroochydore would go on to keep on level points with sixth placed Palm Beach Currumbin in a memorable 16.8 (104) to 14.17 (101) win.
Could these two play on forever?
This was the third stellar match between the pair this year. While practice matches count for very little in the context of the upcoming home and away season; Maroochydore beat Wilston Grange at Hickey Park with the last kick of the day in the final hit-out before the start of the season for the two teams.
Just weeks later; the pair would dust the gloves off for the real stuff in Maroochydore where a high-flying Matt Eagles would lead his team to victory by 20-points, 111-91 in a pulsating high-scoring affair for the visitors.
Last Saturday produced the same style of contest with both teams kicking nine-goals apiece in the second half, which included 10.8 between them in the third term in a quarter that lasted 35-minutes.
The goal from Kangar was all class; and Dan Bowles almost responded immediately in the final minute with a long range shot at the goal from the corresponding centre bounce that sent the ball over the boundary line near the behind post. The siren sounded in the Gorillas’ forward 50 to end a game that lasted exactly 130-minutes; and one that did not deserve a loser.
FIRST QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
In an interesting twist of fate, and perhaps reflective of the extraordinary match, Lukas Kangar kicked the opening goal of the game while on the run for Maroochydore (as the footy gods would have it, Kangar would emulate this feat to put his team in front again before the final siren).
Scholard was well held by Zach Westerberg in the opening term despite having two shots on goal that missed.
When Sam McLachlan kicked a classy goal from around the body for the Roos, the number 23 was all fired up.
The goal from McLachlan prompted 16-year-old Ty Gallop to take matters into his own hands for the Gorillas. Sporting the number 23 on his back; after a narrow miss; Gallop made up for the missed shot with an inspiring tackle in the forward pocket and was rewarded with the free kick. He calmly slotted the goal to cut the margin to seven-points; showing maturity and ability far beyond his age.
The Roos led by 19-points at the first break, but not without incident. Former Roo Dan Lanthois tried to fire up his old team mates and things got a bit heated as players headed to their huddles. Lanthois’ former captain Josh Govan pulled him aside and straightened him up, and tensions died down immediately in a fascinating conclusion to the term.
SECOND QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
Dan Bowles ignited the Gorillas to start the second term with a long bomb on the run from outside 50. Bowles is vastly underrated and his left foot shots on the run make him one of the most prolific players with that ability in the competition.
The Roos responded with three of the next four goals. When Harrison Drew kicked a brilliant goal on the run at the 11-minute mark, the margin ballooned out to a game-high 25-points and it looked like the visitors were on track to running away with the contest.
Wilston Grange must have picked up a different script because for the remainder of the quarter, it absolutely dominated general play. Eagles was soaring in the ruck, winning the majority of hit-outs, sprinting all over the ground and doing anything that he pleased.
Lanthois was damaging through the midfield and the Gorillas, albeit through inaccurate kicking, finished the first half stronger with 2.4 to 0.1 to close the gap to 10-points.
THIRD QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
The second half provided tremendous insight into the high-level energy that would be a constant feature across the 68-minutes.
Zac Derksen asserted himself into the forward 50 alongside team mate Jordan Dillon and the pair proved an instant handful for the Maroochydore defense.
Derksen kicked two goals from set shots in the opening five-minutes with the second one putting his team in front for the first time of the day.
The margin had the potential to explode in favour for the home side if not for a pair of shots on goal from Lanthois that both cannoned into the right hand goal post.
When Hamish Govan steadied the ship for the Roos from a free-kick, it ended 30-minutes between goals for the visitors.
With Lanthois winning plenty of the ball in the midfield, he was joined by Bailey Gordon who dominated in the midfield alongside him as the Gorillas hammered home four unanswered goals in 8.5-minutes to turn a six-point deficit into a 17-point lead.
The chaos continued as the Gorillas failed to land a killer blow, missing five shots on goal in seven-minutes in between goals from Mitch Scholard for the Roos at the other end.
Wilston Grange kicked 6.9 for the term to lead by eight-points heading into the final change.
FINAL TERM HIGHLIGHTS
Will McKenzie kicked the opening goal of the quarter for the home side to balloon the margin out to 14-points. The margin would have been greater if another Lanthois shot on goal did not cannon into the right hand goal post again in an extraordinary run of misses from the young midfielder.
With the Gorillas struggling to convert from their first four scoring shots of the quarter (1.3), Maroochydore had no issue converting its first four scoring shots with perfect accuracy and turned a 15-point deficit a 7-point lead; highlighted by two goals from Lachy Robinson.
From the very next centre bounce, Derksen (after three goals in the third quarter) was awarded a free kick in the ruck for being shepherded out of the contest. He picked up the ball, played on, ran to 70 and kicked the ball to the top of the square and it was shepherded through for a jaw-dropping goal at the 24-minute mark and cut the margin back to a point. It could very well be one of the goals of the year.
Max Hewett kicked a big-time goal from long range at right half forward to put the Gorillas in front at the 28-minute mark and it looked like it was enough.
The ball went forward for the Roos where star forward picked up the ball, snapped around the body from near the behind post and sent the ball crashing into the right hand goal post, again.
With moments on the clock, Jordan Daniel had the ball at half forward, found Kangar in the clear in the middle of the ground for what proved to be the match winning goal.
Maroochydore prevailed in a classic 16.8.104 to 14.17.101.
After trailing by 20-points mid-way through the second quarter, Broadbeach stormed home to beat Palm Beach Currumbin in a thriller by 12-points. The highlight of the game was Cody Harrington bouncing his way from centre wing to 55 metres out with a long-range goal to ice the game for the reigning champs.
After being challenged early, Labrador led Surfers Paradise by 20-points at half-time before kicking 10 goals to three in the second half to win by 62-points. Harry Law was the hero with four goals for the winners.
Sherwood led Redland-Victoria Point 15-14 mid-way through the first term on the road. The Pies challenged the Sharks every step of the way in the second half to eventually go down by 26-points in a very courageous effort. Hammelmann kicked five goals (71 for the season) for the winners.
Morningside led Aspley on and off across the game including during the third term before Aspley kicked away to win by 40-points. Pat McCarthy (Aspley) and Keegan Downie (Morningside) kicked four goals.
Aaron Wilson kicked five goals in his best game of the season for Noosa who surged away early against Mt Gravatt and pushed on to an 87-point win. After running water for the Colts, Mt Gravatt’s Josh Lay was rewarded for his outstanding efforts in the Reserves by being called up to make his Senior debut, and showing all class as a quality clubman.
Picture by Tracey Jones