By Beth Newman
Yeronga is one step closer to back-to-back Women’s League premierships, qualifying for the Division One decider on Sunday.
The Devils beat Coorparoo, 7.8 (50) – 6.9 (45), in a thriller, to book their place in the August 17 grand final and a well-earned week’s rest.
Alex Smith kicked the opener for Yeronga, but it wasn’t long before the Roos hit back, and the game continued in that vein for much of the day, with neither side able to get much of an edge.
After the opening-term arm wrestle, the Roos took a slender two-point lead into quarter time.
When Coorparoo’s Rachel Smith kicked the first of the second term, the Roos had the biggest lead of the match and looked like taking a bit of momentum.
A goal from Debra McPherson brought the Devils level, and the teams exchanged goals until half-time, when the scores stayed level.
In an intense third term, only one point was scored, and it was Coorparoo who took the slightest of leads into the final term.
The Roos kicked on in the last quarter, with the opening goal, but the Devils showed their quality, hitting back with goals to Hayley Newberry and Emily Wastle giving Yeronga, what was ultimately the game-winning lead.
Coorparoo’s Emma Zielke showed her star quality, with a sensational game for the Roos, along with Maddie Protheroe.
For the Devils, young gun Wastle took things up a level in the final term, culminating in her slotting the winning goal.
Yeronga will play the winner of next week’s preliminary final between Coorparoo and Zillmere, in the grand final.
Zillmere picked up a comfortable 10.14 (74) – 4.9 (33) over Kedron in their semi-final, keeping their season alive.
The Eagles’ talent simply proved too much for the Lions, with state rep Taylah Harris leading the way on the wing.
Eagles coach, Geoff Webster, said it was a day where everything fell the way of his team.
“Everything worked well and went according to plan, which doesn’t often happen,” he said.
“They did really well and started strong,” he said.
“The opposition kicked the first goal but we got ascendency real quick didn’t panic and set the game up in first quarter and a half.”
Lions coach, Ron Kemp, said his side was disappointed with the result, but proud of his side’s performance in the match.
“They just had a bit too much firepower around the ground and eventually they overran us,” he said.
“I was pretty happy with how they played. They played some good football, but it just wasn’t good enough.”
Kemp said the marking ability of players like Harris and Rachael Anstey for Zillmere was a key difference in the match.
“They took critical marks and shut down our plays coming up the ground, so from that perspective, they really shut us down at crucial times,” he said.
Kemp said the Lions were happy to have achieved a number of goals they had set out during the season.
“Our first aim was to make Division one, which we did,” he said.
“We made the prelim last year, so we would have liked to have won one more, but overall we ticked a couple of boxes we wanted to tick.
“They didn’t give in, we didn’t drop our heads we played out the game, from their perspective, they’re (the players) happy with what occurred.”
Zillmere takes on Coorparoo in a do-or-die preliminary final on Sunday.
Palm Beach reinforced its position at the top of the SEQAFL Women’s League Division Two, with a 10.24 (84) – 0.4 (4) win over Logan on Sunday.
The win puts the Lions straight through to the August 18 grand final, with Logan to play Griffith in a preliminary final this weekend.
Palm Beach were far too good for the Cobras, who started the game with only 19 players, all day.
The Gold Coasters took a 41-point lead into the quarter-time break, but with a return of 5.14, it could have been far greater.
Logan coach, Fred Meddings, applauded the efforts of his backline in what was an incredibly tough day defensively.
“I was impressed with the performance under the conditions,” he said.
“Our backline stood up and we couldn’t make interchanges, and they just kept going.”
Meddings was well aware of the talent in the Palm Beach side heading into the match, and said they were simply too good on the day.
“We tried, but we were undermanned and we knew we would be in a contest from the get go,” he said.
“Palm Beach probably didn’t deserve to be in second division, and they showed that.”
Twins Stephanie and Madeline Barnett continued their strong season for the Cobras in the loss, battling away all day.
Logan now has a week to reload ahead of their clash with Griffith Moorooka this weekend.
The Reds survived a fighting UQ side to take the first finals win of the club’s short history, finishing 4.10 (34) – 2.8 (20) victors.
It was an arm wrestle in the first, with the ball caught in midfield congestion for much of the term.
UQ had a number of opportunities early but couldn’t quite damage the Reds on the scoreboard.
After a goalless opening term, the Reds managed to take a slight edge in the second, with some clean transition through the ground.
Reds coach, Adam Fry, said the game started to fall in their favour when his side started taking possession from stoppages.
“I think once we started to win the clearances, we were delivering it int our forwards and we started to turn around a bit,” he said.
Samantha Virgo was damaging across the ground, clearly the best on gorund for her side, in the win.
After losing a couple of players early to injury, Fry said it was efforts from players like Sheridan Connor that made the difference in the match.
“Both teams had to grind it out,” he said.
If we were hurting, then UQ was hurting equally.”
“For Sheridan to just keep on running even though we were out on our legs was fantastic,” he said.
Fry said he hadn’t spoken to the girls about the improvement over the last 12 months, going from winless in their inaugural season to a Div 2 preliminary finalist, and was simply focusing on the game at hand.
While the Reds look to their final against Logan on Sunday, UQ was left to reflect on their own improvement in their debut season.
The Red Lions showed their grit in the match, led by midfielder Amelia House and Daryl Jenson.
Kate Heliotis was a rock at centre half-back, continuing her recent run of good form.
UQ coach, Nick Kent, said he was proud of the efforts of his side in their first finals experience.
“Finals footy isn’t about flashiness, it’s about guts and determination & the girls showed plenty of guts,” he said.
“Whether it was putting their heads over the footy, backing into packs, every girl on the park for both sides gave 100 percent.
“Every girl on the park played above themselves.”
And while many sides could find negatives from a finals elimination, Red Lions coach, Nick Kent, said he struggled to find any from their first season of competition.
“On a results basis, we exceeded expectations, on a personnel level we exceeded expectations and on an enjoyment level, judging by the group & the smiles you on the girls’ faces after the game yesterday,” he said.
“I have already received texts from girls talking about how much they can’t wait for next season, which is the real kicker for me.
“The fact that hours after being knocked out of a finals race they already want to jump back in is how you judge the real success of an inaugural season of women’s football.”