By Terry Wilson
Super-safe Stubbs seals victory for Vultures
Mt Gravatt 1.2, 1.5, 7.8, 10.13 (73)
Surfers Paradise 2.1, 5.4, 8.7, 10.11 (71)
GOALS, Mt Gravatt: Stubbs 4, R. Estall 2, K. Baker 1, B. Telford 1, J. Crawley 1, J. Bain 1. Surfers Paradise: Green 5, K. Ford 1, C. Haberfield 1, N. Corbett 1, T. Howard 1, B. Haberfield 1.
BEST, Mt Gravatt: Smith, J. Crawley, K. Baker, M. Hamill, S. Stubbs, J. Markham. Surfers Paradise: Manning, J. Taylor, N. Scott, M. Hopkins, C. Haberfield, D. Green.
MT Gravatt have staged the ultimate escape act with a comeback that has ensured them of QAFL finals action in a fortnight’s time.
The unerring boot of forward Sam Stubbs proved the clincher when the Vultures beat fellow finals contenders Surfers Paradise in a gripping match at Dittmer Park on Saturday.
Mt Gravatt won by 10.13 (73) to 10.11 (71) but had to rely on dead-eye dick Stubbs, who’s after-the-siren goal gave the home side a stunning victory that wrapped up a place in the top five.
It was one of three majors for the quarter and his fourth for the match.
In a season that has had more twists and turns than any in recent history, Mt Gravatt went from sixth on standings with less than 10 minutes to go to third, level on 40 points with Broadbeach but behind the Cats on percentage.
At the same time, they pushed Surfers into the danger zone, the Demons now needing to beat red-hot Western Magpies next weekend to make the play-offs.
There was no better man than Stubbs to complete the job of kicking the winning goal on Saturday, according to Vultures coach Daniel Webster.
When Stubbs marked about 35 metres out on a 45-degree angle, Webster had full faith in his spearhead.
“If you pick anyone on our team to have that kick he’s the one,” Webster said.
“He’s a fantastic kick. And I just watched his reaction as he kicked the ball.
“As soon as it left his boot he knew he’d kicked it and he had the fist in the air.
“There have not been many more important goals for us this year because obviously our season was on the line.
“We came through and now we have another huge match next weekend.”
That is when Mt Gravatt travel to Salk Oval on the Gold Coast for a showdown against premiers Palm Beach Currumbin.
But the Vultures know they cannot miss the top five and have a good chance of grabbing the finals double chance, even possibly second spot should Broadbeach lose their final-round fixture against Labrador.
Typical of the topsy-turvy season, the only time Mt Gravatt led the Demons was for a minute in the first quarter. They never took the lead again until after the final siren sounded.
It was a good effort, though, because the Vultures lost Frazer Neate and Jesse Green with head knocks before half-time.
Ruckmann Andrew Smith, key position utility Jayden Crawley (he played ruck, centre half-forward and centre half-back), Kailem Baker at half-forward and wing and middleman/defender Mick Hamill were outstanding for the Vultures.
It was a shattered Surfers contingent who headed back down the M1 to ponder how they let a golden finals chance slip away.
The loss tumbled Surfers from third to sixth on the ladder ahead of a now must-win match against the Magpies.
“We let ourselves down and that’s all there is to it,” coach Brad Moore said.
“After half time we couldn’t withstand the pressure from a team coming at us.
“I think the key element was that Mt Gravatt did it together and our boys went away from working together and they dropped off in our structures.
“You look at their entries into the 50 metres and I think our boys panicked under pressure.
“Unfortunately, you get what you deserve in the end and we deserved to get overrun because of the way we started playing. I was completely against everything we planned for.”
The equation for Surfers and the Magpies is now simple with both teams on 36 points just behind third-placed Mt Gravatt (40).
Whoever wins will play finals. For the loser it will be mothballs – that is if Morningside beat Sandgate as expected.
Surfers had defenders Connor Manning, Jack Taylor and Nick Scott as their best, called on for extra work after the midfield was soundly beaten after half-time.
Professional Panthers see off Tigers
Morningside 6.3, 11.7, 16.11, 21.14 (140)
Labrador 3.0, 4.2, 7.3, 9.7 (61)
GOALS, Morningside: Mitchell 7, M. Graham 4, E. Mallan 4, J. Rayner 2, W. Wolbers 1, D. Cameron-Reeves 1, Johnson 1, L. Dignan 1. Labrador : Goldsmith 5, Z. Brain 2, A. Djurovitch 1, C. Talbot 1.
BEST, Morningside: Evans, P. Mollison, M. Graham, A. Mitchell, E. Mallan, W. Pendlebury. Labrador: Clarke, W. Mills, J. Goldsmith, B. Retzlaff, T. Thorsen, A. Djurovitch.
MORNINGSIDE have rebounded from their humiliating loss to the Western Magpies with a clinical disposal of former powers Labrador at Cooke-Murphy Oval.
Beaten badly by 101 points by the Magpies the previous weekend, it was a determined Morningside unit that trekked to the Gold Coast to tackle their once arch rivals in what had shaped as a danger game for the finals-chasing Panthers.
Instead it was a one-sided contest with the visitors taking the points by 21.14 (140) to 9.7 (61) for their biggest win over the Tigers since a 123-point win at Cooke-Murphy Oval in Round 21 of the 2013 NEAFL season.
“It was a strong win, very professional, that’s a good word to use,” coach Steve Wildschut said.
“It was good to have some cavalry back and everyone’s doing their bit at the moment.”
The Panthers had key players in Will Pendlebury, Lachlan Russ and Michael Graham back in the side and they did look a far more settled, cohesive unit as a result.
Graham kicked four goals, the same as dangerous forward Eddie Mallan while tall spearhead Alex Mitchell finished with 7.0 for the match in an impressive performance.
“It was good to bounce back (from the Magpies hiding) – we did what we needed to do and move forward,” Wildschut said.
Barring an upset of monumental proportions when they play Sandgate next weekend, the Panthers can now finish as high as third for the finals.
Labrador were their worst enemies and started poorly.
In the opening exchanges they gave away six successive free kicks and turned the ball over stone cold, without pressure, four times.
They were to discover you cannot do that against good, strong, physical sides such as Morningside.
And hurting the Tigers was the loss, before half-time, of Jarrod Mills and 100-game celebrant Sam Walker.
A shining light for Labrador was big forward Jake Goldsmith who kicked 5.3 in what was also his 100th seniors game for the club.
Adam Clarke and Wayde Mills were also strong for the Tigers who simply lacked the depth of quality in their ranks to match it with the winners.
The opposite was the case for Morningside.
Playmaker Ash Evans was outstanding and continually worked the Tigers’ midfielders and defenders over.
“Ash was a class above everyone else on the ground,” Wildschut said.
“He is the complete package – tough, resilient and extremely clever with his ball use and decision making.”
Other standouts for the Panthers were ruckman Peter Mollison, Graham with his four goals, Mitchell with his seven goals and Mallan with his four goals.
Anthony fires as Clarke prepares to flip some burgers
Palm Beach Currumbin 5.3, 12.10, 14.15, 20.21 (141)
Wilston Grange 2.3, 4.5, 6.8, 8.9 (57)
GOALS, Palm Beach Currumbin: Anthony 10, J. Burge 3, N. Crowley 1, B. Denton 1, T. Thynne 1, J. Holland 1, Marsden 1, B. Payne 1, A. Dawson 1. Wilston Grange: Dickson 2, A. Hughes 2, L. Mason 1, A. O’Brien 1, F. McIvor 1, L. Molan 1.
BEST, Palm Beach Currumbin: Anthony, S. Thynne, T. Thynne, J. Croad, J. Holland, D. Neuhaus. Wilston Grange: Hughes, R. Thomson, L. Mason, J. Daye, J. McMahon, J. Lipscombe.
NATHAN Clarke did not get his ideal farewell present when he bowed out as head coach of Wilston Grange down at Salk Oval on the Gold Coast.
The former Brisbane Lions player is stepping down from the role after two years and would have loved to have gone out with a win against premiers Palm Beach Currumbin.
But such was not to be as the Lions ruthlessly destroyed the Gorillas to win by 20.21 (141) to 8.9 (57).
In a match dominated by another former AFL player, PBC forward Jack Anthony, Clarke could not do much as the big spearhead kicked his second 10-goal haul for the season.
“It wasn’t a great way to go out, I think we must have spent our petrol tickets last week (against Broadbeach),” Clarke said, adamant that he will be sticking to his decision to quit coaching.
Asked if there is any chance he will reconsider some time down the track, Clarke said: “No. I was very reluctant to do it in the first place and I thought I was going to do it for only 12 months.”
The popular Clarke will not be lost to the faithful at Bendigo Bank Oval. He is red, white and blue through and through.
“I’ll be flipping burgers at the club until I’m 80 – that’s how much I love the place,” he said.
Clarke no doubt departs the scene with lasting memories of the Anthony power display. He shaven-headed forward actually outscored the Grange on the day.
“He’s in some serious form is Jack,” PBC coach Chad Owens said.
“He was double teamed, he was triple teamed, yet he was still taking marks and feeding the ball off to team mates.”
Anthony has now kicked 46 goals for the season from only nine appearances. He has booted 37 from his past six matches.
PBC went into the match without key players Jesse Derrick, Josh Woolley, Jackson Emblem, Brock Askey and Jarryd Douglas.
Which led Clarke to comment on how formidable and how hard they will be to bat at full strength.
Owens was pretty happy with the effort although he said the third quarter was disappointing when the sides kicked two goals each.
“Our first, second and last quarters were really strong but in the third we dropped off in intensity and let in a couple of easy goals.”
With Anthony the star act up front, the Thynne brothers Steven and Tom revelled in the going, ruckman Jon Croad made a strong return from suspension and Jimmy Holland was sharp around the packs.
As the Gorillas headed into mothballs – they have the final-round bye next weekend – their best again was Adam Hughes on a wing. He was well supported by Ryan Thomson, Luca Mason and Joey Daye.
Magpies still unsure of finals action
Western Magpies 4.5, 11.10, 14.14, 16.23 (119)
Sandgate 2.1, 5.5, 7.6, 8.9 (57)
GOALS, Western Magpies: Copland 5, W. Johnson 3, L. Woods 2, R. Harwood 1, R. Easton 1, B. Jaenke-Cain 1, Ielasi 1, A. Corrie 1, J. Goodall 1. Sandgate: Harris 3, J. Harding 1, B. Hartley 1, J. Taglieri 1, J. Maynard 1, J. Patching 1.
BEST, Western Magpies: Easton, D. Adkins, J. Macanawai, R. Harwood, L. Winton, D. Mitchell. Sandgate: Patching, B. Hogan, J. Harding, L. Harris, T. Marango, D. Affleck.
WESTERN Magpies coach Brydan Morgan is still trying to get his head around the fact that his side is in as good form as any team yet is still no certainty to be playing finals.
After the Magpies beat Sandgate by 16.23 (119) to 8.9 (57) at McCarthy Homes Oval on Saturday Morgan was bemused by the ladder situation that shows his team can still miss the top five for the play-offs.
Saturday’s win pout the Magpies up to fourth on standings, on 36 points with a healthy percentage of 144.19.
They are level on 36, though, with Morningside (121.01 per cent) and Surfers Paradise (115.75), who crashed from third to sixth when they lost to Mt Gravatt.
Now the Magpies prepare for a Gold Coast showdown with Surfers at Sir Bruce Small Oval next weekend, a game that will determine who plays finals.
The loser will be out and that is just the one certainty that will happen.
“If we beat Surfers we’ll probably finish third but if we lose we’re out,” Morgan said.
“If we win we can finish third, that’s if Mt Gravatt lose to Palmy. It’s unbelievable.
“And if Mt Gravatt and Broadbeach both get beaten we will finish second, that’s if we beat Surfers.
“This season has been good for the fans but for coaches it is not at all good.”
Morgan said the bonus was to get through the Sandgate engagement unscathed.
“It wasn’t a great game to be honest but in the end we got the job done.
“I thought Sandgate were good, they competed hard with a group of mostly young kids.”
It was a young kid who starred for the Magpies.
Riley Easton’s performance led Morgan to describe him as “a big chance” of winning the Rising Star Award this year.
“He was sensational in the midfield and forward and he has to be a big chance of winning the Rising Star,” Morgan said.
“And he’ll probably go close to winning our best and fairest.”
Other key performers for the Magpies were Dylan Adkins in the ruck, Jon Macanawai in the midfield and Ryan Harwood in attack and in the middle.
Sandgate’s Round 17 Rising Star Award nominee Ben Hogan stood up for the Hawks again as Josh Patching, Jordan Harding and Lachlan Harris tried their best.