Ten Out of Ten For Perfect Panthers
Sunday 5 July 2009
Morningside produced one of their most dominant first halves of football against a finals rival ever with a stunning demolition of Mt Gravatt at Esplen Oval today.
The Panthers ran out 22.11 (143)-11.3 (69) winners, shattering any spell that Mt Gravatt might have had on them previously with the Vultures having won six of their last eight games.
The powerhouse performance was Morningside’s 10th win in succession and they showed no sign of slowing on an inexorable march towards September, while the Vultures remain locked in a close battle with the Brisbane Lions for the fifth and last finals spot.
The Panthers had 5.2-0.0 on the board after 24 minutes today and led 11.8-3.0 at halftime.
The 19 scoring shots to three were a genuine reflection of their dominance but to Mt Gravatt’s credit, they made two surges at the Panthers in the second half.
The Vultures booted the first four goals of the third term to get back to within 31 points, only for the Panthers to immediately slot two goals in the space of a minute.
Mt Gravatt then booted four of the first five goals of the final term to again draw within 31 points at the eight-minute mark, before the Panthers re-ignited with the last seven majors of the match.
Just as he did against heavyweights Southport five weeks ago, former Panthers skipper David Lillico was awesome in the middle, winning plenty of hard-ball and using it superbly by foot to the advantage of his teammates.
Lillico kicked two brilliant goals and set up three others in the opening onslaught and was simply unstoppable all day.
He received great support from an outstanding defensive unit, with half-backs Jack Lawler (pictured) and Nathan Kinch generating enormous run, particularly in the first half.
Ben Gibson locked down on Shane Morrison, Brett Connell was unpassable at full-back, Jarrod Price defended and attacked with great confidence, and Nick Tomlinson was unbeatable one-on-one against a number of opponents.
But it was the ability of Lawler and Kinch to consistently find hectares of space on the outer wing that flummoxed the Vultures.
“The boys off that half-back flank are playing really well at the moment,” Lillico said. “Their run and carry is really important to us and hopefully they can keep doing it.
“The third quarter disappointed us a fair bit although in saying that they had a fair crack at us, and it was good that we got away again.”
The Vultures defence was under enormous pressure all day, although key defenders Andrew Scott and Gavin Grose, and third tall defender Jake Furfaro battled manfully against overwhelming odds.
Scott made a huge number of hard-ball gets opposed to Austin Lucy, who did some good things for his team, while Grose held Kent Abey to one scrambled goal and ran down the field to kick two himself.
“The pressure they were under with the ball coming in as quickly up the ground was enormous and they did a terrific job,” said Vultures co-coach Russ Harding.
“Jake went forward and kicked a goal and Gav Grose kicked two, so for that to come from the back six under the pressure they were under was an enormous effort.”
Josh Vearing won plenty of ball but most of it was in the back half of the ground as the Morningside defence ran the ball in waves.
“We had a real control issue there with the run off half-back,” Harding admitted.
“We restructured how we went about the game at halftime, we had to work it a little bit differently. Kinch went from 10 possessions in the second quarter to zero in the third according to our statistics.
“We managed Lawler a lot better too but we had to. That really set us up to come home and we kicked off pretty well in the last quarter.
“But they really did work us over physically and when you have a limited rotation off the bench, you can’t keep asking the same few players to run the game out.”
An interesting sidelight was the performances of the two co-leaders in the Syd Guildford Trophy going into the game.
They had limited effect, with young Mt Gravatt tagger Todd Jamieson doing a solid job in keeping Panthers star Paul Shelton to 22 possessions, and Vultures ace Nathan Gilliland unable to exert a genuine influence with his 21 touches.
Morningside full-forward Shaun Mugavin continued his resurrection as a player of class at State League level following two seasons in the Pineapple Hotel Cup with five goals in an energetic display.
The Panthers simply did not have a passenger, with bench players Sam Faure and Mark Kimball injecting themselves strongly into the game when on the ground.
The Vultures will take some heart from the fact they matched the Panthers with eight goals each from halftime to time-on of the final term.
Ruckman Ryan Head did a good job in ensuring the white-hot Jacob Gough did not give his midfield an easy ride and was solid around the ground, while youngster Sean Yoshiura did some nice things.