Morningside boss John Blair remained confident that his side would withstand the Mt Gravatt charge in the final quarter of today’s grand final, even when the Vultures drew to within three points.

The Panthers were facing history repeating itself as the Vultures bore down on them, just as Southport did in last year’s grand final.

But Blair has refused to look back on last year, and his players kept positive, eventually booting the last five goals of the game to win by 31 points.

“I still thought we were going alright,” Blair said, despite the Vultures circling ominously 10 minutes into the final term..

“We made a couple of moves and some blokes were getting back,” he said.

“Aussie (Lucy) was up, and a couple of guys that went into the midfield like ‘Rooter’ (Mark Rootsey) were getting their hands on it.

“It was just a matter of if we could win the ball cleanly and not turn it over.”

Former skipper David Lillico showed enormous tenacity to overcome being felled heavily behind play early to play the last 100 minutes with a suspected broken jaw.

“That’s probably the most courageous act I have ever seen on a footy field,” Blair said.

“He didn’t shirk an issue for the day, he put his head down over the ball, and he was prepared to be in the clinches and  knock the ball forward.

“I don’t reckon he made a clanger all day, his cleanliness was second-to-none.”

Having won 17 games straight and gone into the game as hot favourites, Blair had prepared his side to play the ball throughout.

“We’d been challenged heavily by a very good Northern Territory team up in Darwin. They were physical against us and we had to come back strongly that day and we did,” he said.

“Southport down at Southport was a strong, hard, physical game, so we were quite confident that we could handle any abuse and still focus on playing football.

“Our mindset all week had been on winning the ball and winning the contest - at the end of the day, people only remember who got the premiership.”

Mt Gravatt co-coach David Lake identified Austin Lucy’s freak goal that gave the Panthers breathing space 10 minutes into the final term as the defining moment of the game.

“Lucy kicked one out of his backside - they’re the ones that get you,” Lake said. “If you’re going to win a grand final you kick them.

“It was a great goal and it was the one that got into our spirit a little bit.”

Lake was pleased with the pressure that his players applied to the super Morningside midfield all day.

“There were a lot of fumbles but we didn’t capitalize on what we created,” he said of the Vultures’ wastefulness in front of goal.

Lake went for broke in time-on of the final term, once Morningside went 21 points up.

“We made the changes, we had to win it. We had to make the decision you start to change things that have worked for you all day,” he said. “You have to roll the dice to win it, and you either win it or go down by five goals.”

Lake refused to be critical of Tom Tarrant for his send-off, which came at a time of the game when Mt Gravatt were more than holding their own.

He preferred to compliment Panthers midfielders Paul Shelton and Lillico for standing tall in the finish.

“Those two were terrific,” he said.


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