By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
Morningside stopped a fast-ending Surfers Paradise from progressing to the QAFL Semi-Final after a thrilling six-point win over Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday afternoon.
After taking a whopping 41-point lead several times during the game, the Panthers stopped a demon’s resurgence in the final quarter to hold on to a famous win.
Surfers Paradise entered the game in better form for its opponents who had lost the previous three games, all against teams outside the top six.
Despite the poor form, the Panthers welcomed a host of stars to give them the edge, including Ryan Banks-Smith, Saxon Crozier, James Nelis and Toby Triffet; to name a few.
The match-up was unique in its own right, as the last two Senior QAFL premieres battled to keep their season alive in a sudden-death elimination finale.
The first quarter went against the traditional script of an elimination final between the fourth and fifth, where the matches are generally quite close and fiercely contested.
The Panthers stormed out of the blocks and scored four quick goals while the Demons were still locked in the stables trying to find their way to the track. They sprinted to a 26-0 lead and the result seemed to be in the books before half time.
A few missed opportunities late in the quarter robbed the Demons of some momentum heading into the halftime break.
When Banks-Smith added his second goal either side of halftime, alarm bells started ringing loudly for the home side. Ryan made his mark, putting the opening goal on the board for the demons after nine minutes of the second term, the first goal in 41 minutes of game time.
The Panthers celebrated a hat-trick of goals in the space of four minutes, sending the margin to a whopping 41 points, nearly time-on 51-10 in the second term.
Surfers Paradise gathered with the last two goals of the half to reduce the margin to 30 points.
Any hopes of a Demons revival were seemingly extinguished in the third as the Panthers scored back-to-back goals to reduce the margin to 41 points, nearly time-on in the third. Here, the scoring came to a complete halt for the Panthers.
Surfers Paradise again added the last two goals of the quarter via Merrett and Hilton-Joyce, but as the problem had been for the team all day, it was unable to get the margin below five goals and build on that momentum.
It wasn’t long before the Demons broke through the five-goal barrier when key ruckman Green kicked the opening goal of the last 15 minutes after two minutes. Hilton-Joyce kicked his second just minutes later and the margin was below 20 points for the first time since the 15.5 minute of the first term.
The goals continued to flow for the home side who rushed to the finish like a hurricane with a barrage of goals from the likes of Pescud and Smith to narrow the margin to just five points. Smith’s goal completed an impressive run of six unanswered goals in the space of 27 minutes, with his team taking 6.2 to two points in that time.
The last seven minutes felt like an eternity as Morningside held out desperately against an extremely determined Surfers Paradise outfit. The siren sounded after 28.5 minutes with Morningside leading six points and holding out after going goalless in the final 44 minutes of the game.
Henry Joyce was the clear luminary for the Panthers with a half-forward position in his best senior-level performance for the team in 2021. Alby Jones was always reliable in the backline for the Demons when their season came to a disappointing end.