By Terry Wilson
Demons now a chance for that grand old flag
IT was a grand old fighting spirit that lifted Surfers Paradise into the QAFL Finals with a gritty 21-point win over Western Magpies at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday.
The Demons best utilised the wide, open spaces of their home venue to win 10.9 (69) to 7.6 (48), a result that elevated them to fourth spot for the Finals and a home-ground Elimination Final next weekend.
Playing in front of one of the biggest crowds of the season, the Demons conceded the first three goals of the match when the Magpies looked like running rampant.
But three goals in as many minutes just before quarter-time put the home side a point up at the first break.
It was all square at half-time, 33 points apiece, but the third term was the winner for the Demons and the killer for the Magpies, who managed only two behinds to 3.4 from the Dees. That was simply too big a margin to haul back as the rivals kicked two goals each in the fourth stanza.
Once the Demons stopped the bleeding at the back – their defenders were pushing too far upfield according to Coach Brad Moore – they wrested control.
“Credit to the boys that they worked things out themselves out on the ground,” Moore said.
“But, saying that, the midfielders started shutting it down and they (the team) got their energy back.”
Moore did not change anything structure-wise for the third term and rammed home a message that the players knew what they were capable of.
“It was just knowing what we can do,” he said. “We’re not the prettiest side in the competition but what we do is we stay in the contest, we make sure it’s a contest from start to finish.
“The last time we played the Magpies they gave us a touch-up and from then we made a real point that whatever happens the game has to be played for four quarters.
“We just went out after half-time wanting to maintain what we did in the first half, but we probably got a bit cleaner and we took the most of our opportunities.
“And Brody Haberfield started to really take ascendency in the forward line.”
Haberfield kicked 2.5 and was the difference between the teams as he sparked the offence. But Moore said full-back Connor Manning, who played on Jakob de Winter, was his best, along with fellow defender Jack Prestegar. And Mitch Hopkins, the player with the best mullet in the QAFL, was another Demon to get wraps from the Coach. Hopkins revelled in the tough going in-close against physical opponents and used his bulk to effect.
For the Magpies, unquestionably the hard luck story of the season, they are now in mothballs as Coach Brydan Morgan considers his future after two years with the club. The Magpies finished with a percentage of 139.32, third best in the competition behind top two, Palm Beach Currumbin and Broadbeach, yet somehow they missed the top five for the play-offs. But he conceded that Surfers was the better team on the day on Saturday.
“I thought we were probably outplayed for three quarters at least,” he said.
“Their speed really hurt us – they can break out of stoppages with that speed. And they didn’t turn the football over as much as they have in the past, by foot. “They played a really good game today, I was impressed by the way they went about it.”
Best for the Magpies were Ben Jaenke-Cain, Luca Winton, Kale Reed and Liam Dwyer. It did not help the Magpies that they lost Rising Star Award favourite Riley Easton to a bad ankle injury during the second quarter. He took no further part in the match.
Lions now await Qualifying Final opponents
DEFENDING Premiers Palm Beach Currumbin have a fortnight to get over any aches and pains after a harder than expected win over fellow finalists Mt Gravatt at Salk Oval on Saturday.
Making light of three late changes to their line-up, the Lions were made to work hard, especially in the second half, to win the match by 17.17 (119) to 16.8 (104).
The late withdrawals of Jack Anthony (ankle), Jon Croad (infected knee) and Brenton Payne, who was called up by NEAFL club Southport on match morning, forced some reshuffling on the 2017 champions.
Early on the Lions did not miss a beat, racing to a 32-point lead at quarter-time and ahead by 38 at half-time. However the Vultures would not go away and fought back to be behind by 20 at the final break and by only four points midway through the fourth quarter after three successive goals to start the term.
“It was like a finals game of footy, they kept coming and coming and we couldn’t put them away,” PBC Coach Chad Owens said.
“We had a super first half when our run and carry was excellent and when we attacked the contests really well.
“At half-time had 22 shots on goal but we couldn’t put the nail in the coffin kicking wise.
“We missed some easy shots and at the other end their kicking was incredible.
“There were momentum shifts all through what was a really good game of footy.”
In the opposition camp Coach Daniel Webster took plenty from the fact that the Vultures were able to make up such a large deficit and give the reigning Premiers a huge fright when they edged to within 95-99 in the last term.
Early on, he conceded, the Lions carved his side up but after some juggling of the magnets on the field board, things turned around.
“They were on fire,” Webster said of PBC.
“When they’re up and going they’re a good team and we just couldn’t get a hand on them early.
“We threw the magnets around because we had to try to match up their forward line because they were a bit smaller there.
“But the thing more than anything was our work rate and effort.
“The second half was obviously a lot better and we took some confidence from getting back from 40 points down against the best team and on their deck.”
Reliable defender Jackson Emblem was excellent for the Lions with his marking and spoiling trademarks at their peak.
Jarryd Douglas, back at full-forward after a month out after concussion issues, kicked six in the absence of Anthony, while Zac Harrison and skipper Jesse Derrick, playing on wings and on-ball, were prominent throughout.
Mt Gravatt had solid contributors in Jonah Licht (four goals at centre half-forward), Joel Leahy on-ball and on a wing, Dom Nash in the middle and ruckman Andrew Smith.
The loss sentenced Mt Gravatt to an Elimination Final showdown against Surfers Paradise, who beat Western Magpies on the weekend, at Sir Bruce Small Park next Sunday.
PBC have a week off as Minor Premiers waiting to see who wins the Qualifying Final between Broadbeach and Morningside at Subaru Oval on Saturday.
Cats win to set up home Qualifying Final
BROADBEACH earned a Subaru Oval home Qualifying Final next weekend after they saw off Gold Coast rivals Labrador by 87 points on Saturday.
Everything went according to plan for the Cats and Coach Brett Andrews in the 20.13 (133) to 7.4 (46) victory with an injury-free list finishing the game and with some improved form from key players.
“We achieved what we wanted to,” Andrews said after the Cats secured second spot for the Finals Series.
“We won every quarter, we got through unscathed, which is good, and we’re getting better and better.
“Our main aim was to finish second and we did that.”
And some of the bigger names went a lot better against the hapless Tigers.
On-baller and dual club Best and Fairest Ryan Pantic was one. Former Richmond and Brisbane AFL player Luke McGuane, back at his junior club, was another to lift a notch just in time for the Finals.
But a bigger achievement for the club, according to Andrews, was an across-the-board list of accomplishments, both individual and team-wise.
“We’ve got the leading goalkicker in seniors (Matt Fowler), reserves (Tayler Rolfe) and colts (Alexandre Crow),” Andrews said.
“And our teams have finished second (seniors), first (reserves) and second (colts) for the finals.
“So it has been a big year for our club.”
The Cats were never in doubt against their Coast rivals on Saturday after leading by 15 points at quarter-time and by 28 at half-time.
In the second half it was 10 goals to one when Fowler kicked four of his five goals and Darcy Irwin two of his four for the match. But it was Pantic, half-back Ryan Dienjes,McGuane across the defensive lines and Blake Erickson who dominated the best-players list.
Michael Lakeman, rising teenager Anthony Djurovitch, evergreen Wayde Mills and Jarryd graham who were the pick of the Tigers.
And so ended the two-year term of Aaron Shattock as Coach of Labrador in what was the worst season for the club since the disaster of 2013 in the NEAFL when the Tigers won only one of 18 games and went through the mid-year departure of Brad Moore, who was replaced by Jason Fennell. Then came some glory days for the Tigers, who were back in the QAFL from 2014 when they had a run of second, first, first and second before this year’s injury-smashed campaign which produced only three victories.
Panthers survive serious scare from Sandgate
MORNINGSIDE Coach Steve Wildschut had a gut feeling that the Panthers were going to get a serious examination from competition strugglers Sandgate at Lemke Road Oval on Saturday.
Another massive upset looked on when Sandgate led Finals-bound Morningside by eight points at half-time, but in the end the class of the Panthers prevailed and they won by 13.12 (90) to 9.6 (60).
Morningside blew the game wide open by kicking the first six goals of the third quarter in a much-needed burst of authority. With nothing but pride to play for, the Hawks were always going to take the game to the Panthers, just like they did in the final round match of 2016 and against Palm Beach Currumbin in the corresponding match last year.
It was last year that Sandgate thrashed PBC by more than 90 points at Lemke Road. PBC went on to win the Premiership.
So the omens were there that the Hawks could repeat the dose – and Wildschut knew it, especially remembering that Sandgate caused a huge upset by beating Morningside in the fifth round this year.
“I have the utmost respect for Sandgate,” he said fully expecting a real battle. “It was their grand final and they played that way, so full credit to them.
“It took everything we had to get over them. They pressured us but we stuck to what we were doing well and ground out an important win.”
Asked if he was concerned at half-time trailing on the big Lemke Road ground, Wildschut said: “We’d gone into the game knowing it was going to take four quarters of footy to win it – and that’s what we did, we did the job.”
Morningside now play Broadbeach in the Qualifying Final, between second and third, at Subaru Oval on the Gold Coast next Saturday.
Usual on-ball suspects Ash Evans and Alastair Nash were the linchpins for the Panthers, who also had good service from defender Jim Cowlishaw, ruckman Will Wolbers and Jim Rayner on a half-forward flank.
For the Hawks, who ended the year with just the one win, that incredible success against Morningside at Jack Esplen Oval, the best were Haydyn Cliff, Jordan Harding, Toara Marango and Josh Preval.
Despite it not being a successful season, the future looks bright for Sandgate, provided the club can hold to a group of bright young players who will surely be much better for the experiences of what has been a seriously tough learning campaign.