Saturday 7 June 2008

Queensland stunned WA with a six-goal opening quarter, but it only served to galvanise the slick Sandgropers into action and they eventually careered away to 73-point win in the interstate clash in Townsville today.

Their sheer running power and slick use of the football saw WA power to a 24.20 (164)-14.7 (91) victory, with several of their young guns substantially enhancing their draft prospects.

The Maroons’ midfield broke even in the opening quarter and their tackling pressure had WA on the back foot, with some quality work around goal seeing the home State post an unlikely 6.1-2.8 quarter time lead.

WA responded with a dominant 8.4-1.2 second quarter and were more efficient in front of goal in the third as Queensland tried to go blow-for-blow.

Trailing by 39 points at the final break, the Maroons looked like being swept aside as WA added five goals in 13 minutes, before Matthew Payne went on a hot streak with four goals in 12 minutes.

It got the margin back to 47 points, but the effort took its toll and WA added four goals in the last eight minutes to put a strong exclamation mark on their victory.

Maroons coach Jason Cotter had no complaints.

“They were probably a 10-goal better side so it was a fair result,” he said. “They ran in waves and used the ball well.

“They knew to run because they would get the service of the delivery to them. We were caught flat footed and still watching the guy with the ball, while their direct opponents were off and gone.”

The first quarter was played at a cracking pace, with both coaches rotating players heavily off the bench and at both ends of the ground.

Matthew Payne was outstanding early with a nine-possession first term, David Lillico won a number of centre clearances, Aaron Shattock was solid, and Ash Evans got his hands on plenty of the ball.

Shane Morrison started at full-forward but hurt his troublesome foot early, and Justin Maddern gave the team a big lift when moved to the attacking goalsquare.

He led and marked strongly and kicked two good goals, while Dayne Zorko led well upfield from a pocket and provided a midfield target in a link role.

The highly rated teenager had eight disposals in the first quarter, but faded from the match from there, taking a heavy head knock at the start of the third term but playing out the game.

Jacob Gough and Mitch Andrews also did some top work at the bounces, while Darryl White did some clever things in defence and set up three goals in 10 minutes with his tackling, smothering and acrobatic marking when moved forward.

Youngster Rohan Bail was particularly sure with his handling and several of his one-touch efforts at full speed were breathtaking.

While he was not as prominent later in the game when WA assumed control, he was the best of the four teenagers debuting in open interstate football.

Queensland’s tackling pressure was fierce and WA struggled to get time to use the ball too effectively, although their return could easily have been better than two goals from 10 scoring shots.

They rectified that in the second term, forcing the Queenslanders into a number of errors in the middle terms and counter-punching hard, running down the ground in waves and using the ball with ruthless efficiency in general play.

Twenty-year-old Claremont goalsneak Ian Richardson kicked 5.3, including four in the game-turning second term to earn the Simpson Medal from the WA coaching staff.

His forward pocket cohort Hayden Ballantyne, 20, booted two goals during the second stanza barrage and finished with three for the game.

Many of their opportunities were generated by lethal left-footer Jarrod Kayler-Thomson, who gathered possessions and will and hurt the Queenslanders over short and long distances with his arrow-like passing.

Ruckman Luke Newick began to provide a presence around the ground, and captain Toby McGrath came into the game strongly at half-back after a slow start.

Both sides were happy to play with a five-man forward line and have a spare man in defence, but WA’s slick use of the ball rendered the Queenslander ineffective after quarter-time, while making life difficult when the Maroons went into attack.

While the Sandgropers were on a roll, one of the highlights of the game was at the 11-minute mark of the second term when Shattock launched himself onto the top of a pack and took a spectacular mark, bringing the crowd to its feet.

The crowd of just over 2000 was evenly split in their support of both teams on a balmy 25 degree afternoon that was perfect for a fast-paced game, but they all enjoyed the big fly.

Darren O’Brien suffered a heavy knock midway through the term and had to leave the field, just as Ballantyne kicked two goals in two minutes, one a special effort where he roved a pack in heavy traffic and snapped brilliantly.

WA’s tackling pressure increased with their run, although Payne early, Lillico, Evans and Scott Clouston, who did some strong things on a wing, tried to keep the Maroons in the game.

Wade Dickson moved onto Richardson after having kept the highly regarded Blake Broadhurst quiet and did a solid job in the second half.

So good was Dickson that he earned the nod from the coaching panel for the Zane Taylor Medal.

“He kept his poise under pressure really well,” Cotter said.

Leading by 27 points at the main break, WA couldn’t break away in the third term as the Maroons held their own, frittering away 1.4 in the opening 10 minutes while WA kicked two goals in their only sorties forward.

Jason Burge used his speed to effect to kick and nice goal and White took a clever one-on one mark to add another for the Maroons to keep in the contest, but two late goals saw WA win the quarter 5.4-3.4 and lead by 39 points at the final change.

Midfielders Jason Salecic, Kyal Horsley, Brett Robinson, Shaun Hildebrandt and Adam Cockie all got in on the action as WA finished full of run in the final term.

Payne’s heroics were just reward for his persistence, and he finished with 25 possessions and five goals in an effort that almost secured him his second medal in as many years, having been judged best afield in the 2006 win over the ACT.

Kent Abey worked particularly hard at centre-half-forward all day and was far from disgraced in an entertaining battle with Aiden Parker.

“We were rapt to get the win under our belt after traveling for a couple of days,” said Sandgropers skipper McGrath.

“We knew Queensland were going to be tough. They came out and hit us hard in the first half, but luckily the boys kept their composure.

“We got on top of them in the midfield and wore them down in the end.”

How they lined up:

B: Danny Wise, Shaun Tapp, Wade Dickson
Hayden Ballantyne, Andrew Merrington, Blake Broadhurst

HB: Darryl White, Tom Tarrant, Sam Carins
Brett Robinson, Brent Le Cras, Ian Richardson

C: Scott Clouston, David Lillico, Ash Evans
Jarrod Kayler-Thomson, Toby McGrath, Kyal Horsley

HF: Justin Maddern, Kent Abey, Darren O’Brien
Andrew McCarry, Aiden Parker, Scott Siekerka

F: Dayne Zorko, Shane Morrison, Rohan Bail
Ben Keevers, Darren Rumble, Greg Broughton

R: Jacob Gough, Aaron Shattock, Matthew Payne
Luke Newick, Ross Young, Phil Read

I/C: Daniel Hawkins, Jason Burge, Nathan Kinch, Adam Spackman, Mitch Andrews
Adam Cockie, Shaun Hilderbrandt, Simon Rosa, Jason Salecic, Zac Beeck



West Aust, 2.8, 10.12, 15.16, 24.20 (164)
Queensland, 6.1, 7.3, 10.7, 14.7 (91)
Goals, WA: Richardson 5.3; Ballantyne 3.1; Merrington 2.2; Le Cras 2.1; Broadhurst, Read, Hilderbrandt 2.0; Kayler-Thomson 1.2; Robinson, Rosa, Young 1.1; Cockie, Rumble, Beeck 1.0; Newick 0.2; Salecic, McGrath 0.1; 0.5 rushed. Qld: Payne 5.0; Maddern 3.1; Abey 2.1; Zorko 1.1; O’Brien, White, Burge 1.0; Bail 0.1; 0.3 rushed.

Best, WA: Kayler-Thomson, Richardson, Read, McGrath, Ballantyne, Robinson, Salecic, Newick. Qld: Dickson, Payne, Evans, Lillico, Clouston, Shattock, White, Abey, Maddern.

At Tony Ireland Stadium, Townsville     


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