By Terry Wilson
Surfers Paradise v Morningside
At Sir Bruce Small Park, 2pm Saturday
Ins: Surfers Paradise – Jack Taylor, Josh Matulis. Morningside – no changes.
Outs: Surfers Paradise – Nathan Trevena (omit), Connor McKenzie (omit). Morningside – no changes.
HEAD-TO-HEAD THIS YEAR:
Round 2: Surfers Paradise 13.7 (85) d Morningside 12.7 (79) at Jack Esplen Oval. In three meetings last year the biggest winning margin was 10 points, including eight points in the first semi-final, and to start off 2019 it was the solitary goal that won the game for Surfers.
It was not until Southport-listed forward Cody Filewood kicked truly from a tight angle at the 30-minute mark of the final term that Surfers edged ahead.
Round 12: Morningside 13.9 (87) d Surfers Paradise 8.10 (58) at Sir Bruce Small Park. The Panthers big men Brad Hodge and Peter Mollison dominated in the air as the Demons were in the middle of a mid-season slump.
ACCORDING TO THE COACHES:
Brad Moore: We have to stop them from transitioning the ball by foot to either side of the ground, to make sure our pressure game will cause as many turnovers as we can.
Clint Watts: I believe the most important player for Surfers is Jack Prestegar and I know they play-on from everywhere – they like to go quick and the tjhing with their mids is that they try to outnumber you.
Surfers Paradise selectors have bitten the bullet and elected to go with two makeshift ruckmen in their QAFL qualifying final against Morningside at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday.
Rather than rush regular ruck Harris Newton back into the side, the Demons elected to go with regular defender, Southport-listed Sam Jewell, to back up Thompson Smith against the Morningside tall timber of Brad Hodge and Peter Mollison.
It is a risk but coach Brad Moore is confident his pairing will do the job as the Demons and the Panthers go for a spot in next weekend’s second semi-final against Palm Beach Currumbin.
While Smith and Jewell will be giving away plenty of height to the Panther pairing they were in good form last weekend when they beat the Western Magpies, who were not short on talls, as it were.
“We had to make some tough decisions this week,” said Moore, confirming that Nathan Trevena and Connor McKenzie have also missed the boat to make way for regulars, defender Jack Taylor and midfielder Josh Matulis.
The Demons also overlooked handy forward, Southport-listed Cody Filewood, for a place in the final 22 named.
There is plenty of motivation for the Demons to see off their Brisbane rivals because it was Morningside who eliminated Surfers from the 2018 flag race when they beat them in the first semi-final at Jack Esplen Oval.
That day the Panthers, under Steve Wildschut, starved the Demons of possession and that, no doubt, will be the target of the Panthers on Saturday.
Preventing the Panthers from piling up too much uncontested possession will be on the minds of the Demons who, it must be said, have arguably the best on-ball brigade in the competition right now.
And the sheer size of Small Park, the biggest ground in the league, will be a factor although the Panthers did beat the Dees there in the 12th round when big men Brad Hodge and Peter Mollison dominated.
“I think Brad Hodge got the 10 Syd Guildford Trophy votes that day but we have a few options up our sleeve this time,” said Moore.
That was the last time Surfers lost a game this season as they were in the middle of a mid-season slump.
Since then their midfield has been superb claiming the scalps of Palm Beach Currumbin and Broadbeach in the process.
But the Panthers are not too bad in the middle either, where Henry Joyce continues to be one of the competition’s best performers.
Morningside go into the qualifying final with an unchanged side, for the first time this season according to Watts.
He says the size of Small Park does not hold any fears for his players and that they have been working on ways to defend on bigger grounds.
Broadbeach v Mt Gravatt
At Subaru Oval, 2pm Saturday
Ins: Broadbeach – Jack O’Shea, Matt Fowler, Jai Lyons, Alex Aurrichio. Mt Gravatt – Jack Wratten, Daniel Daye, Bill Sam.
Outs: Broadbeach – Aiden Fyfe (omit), Hapeo Bobogi (omit), Alex Rayner (omit), Fitzroy Greenwool (omit). Mt Gravatt – Jack Coghlan (inj), Dylan Smith (NEAFL), Braydon O’Dea (omit).
HEAD TO HEAD THIS YEAR:
Round 2: Broadbeach 8.19 (67) d Mt Gravatt 9.12 (66) at Subaru Oval. Josh Searl levelled the scores with a red-time goal then kicked the winning behind right on the siren.
Round 11: Mt Gravatt 13.11 (89) d Broadbeach 14.4 (88) at Dittmer Park. The Vultures kicked the last two goals of the fixture courtesy of Dominic Nash and Jesse Green.
ACCORDING TO THE COACHES:
Beau Zorko: Mt Gravatt’s strength is their tall timber and they have plenty of it. I think they like to get the ball in the air and move it quickly to (Sam) Stubbs.
Adam Boon: Broadbeach through the middle is a key area. There is quality there in the likes of Josh Searl, Blake Erickson, Jackson Fisher and Nick Burton. Then there is big Jason Cloke up front.
If this battle for premiership survival lives up to the two previous meetings between the clubs this year it will be an absolute bell-ringer.
So far this season it has been one-all between the Cats and the Broadbeach – with the operative word being one – because a solitary point was the margin in both fixtures and both went down to the final kicks of the games.
Now it is down to survival mode for the elimination final at Subaru Oval on Saturday where the loser goes into mothballs and the winner lives to fight another day in the first semi-final the following weekend.
This season Broadbeach won the first clash at Subaru Oval, then Mt Gravatt returned the favour at Dittmer Park.
So there is a struck match between the sides going on those results although Broadbeach coach Beau Zorko says to throw out the form guide because it is a brand new season now the finals have started.
But form shows that Mt Gravatt have an edge in the ruck, where Andrew Smith and Jarrod Huddy go so well in tandem, as well as in overall height around the ground with versatile big men in Jonah Licht Mitch Hart and Jack Wratten who is one of three changes made by the Vultures.
Wratten, Redland-listed Bill Sam and Daniel Daye are the other two inclusions for Mt Gravatt who left out Braydon O’Dea and lost Jack Coghlan through injury.
Broadbeach made four changes to the side that lost in the final round to Palm Beach Currumbin.
The Cats brought in Southport NEAFL trio Jack O’Shea, Jai Lyons and big American Alex Arrichio, along with skipper Matt Fowler.
Mt Gravatt coach Adam Boon is hoping for a better result this time because last year, in the same elimination final, against Surfers Paradise at Small Park, he was a member of the losing side playing for the Vultures as a Redland-listed NEAFL player.
Boon has no doubts the Mt Gravatt mids match up well with that of the Demons.
“And we have added a few more strings to our bow,” said Boon.
“I guess one point in two games is a true indication of the closeness of the sides and we definitely match up well against each other.
“The brand of footy we play is similar so I guess whoever executes on the day will go home with the chocolates.”
And it may be that it comes down to goalkicking where Sam Stubbs (42) and Jason Cloke (40) are first and third respectively in the race to be leading scorer for the season.