Thursday 19 August 2010

The openness of the QAFL finals series is best reflected in the fact that each of the five teams expected to participate have a 1-1 win-loss record against each over the course of the season.

Even minor premiers Labrador are in the same boat. They might have lost only four games during the season, but they were to each of the teams immediately below them on the premiership table.

That will give heart to even likely fifth-placegetter Northern Territory, who have beaten every side above them.

The quirk to the Thunder’s record is that three of those four victories have been in Darwin, where they have proved near-invincible over the past two years.

Tellingly though, their only win over a top-five side in south-east Queensland was at Mt Gravatt – their elimination final opponent if they win on Saturday.

A premiership table for the last six weeks of the season makes for a very different picture to what it appears after Round 17.

Mt Gravatt have won six games, Morningside and Labrador are 4-2, the Thunder are 3-3, and Southport are 2-4.

That makes the Vultures the form team of the competition, having beaten Labrador, Morningside and Southport in that time.

History is against the Vultures going all the way to the premiership, however.

No team ever won a VFL/AFL premiership from the elimination final under the top five system, only one team managed to achieve the feat in the SANFL, and it has been done just the once in Queensland.

That occurred in 1976, when Windsor-Zillmere stormed to the title from fifth place in the first year of the final five format. The Eagles went back-to-back, having remarkably won the previous year after graduating from fourth place and the first semi-final.

The notable part of Mt Gravatt’s run has been the Vultures’ strong finishes to games.

They have won the third quarter in each of their last six wins, most comprehensively, and been almost as dominant with the fourth quarter finishes.

They have won five and drawn one, the only ‘tie’ coming at Aspley against the fast-finishing Hornets, with the Vultures having enjoyed a commanding three-quarter-time lead that day.

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