PANTHERS OVERRUN TIRING THUNDER
Sunday 9 August 2009
The Morningside machine made another emphatic statement last night when it flattened the Northern Territory in Darwin by 53 points.
The Panthers overcame a 20-point deficit midway through the second term to edge in front at halftime, then smash the Thunder with an eight-goal third term.
Morningside’s 21.10 (136) to 12.11 (83) victory was their 14th in succession and almost certainly guarantees them the minor premiership.
Thunder assistant coach Wally Gallio told Grey Morris of the NT News that the combination of a good opposition, sore bodies and a long 10 months of football took its toll on the Thunder players.
"We're not looking for any excuses, we were beaten by a very good side who used the ball well, ran in numbers and gave us no room," Gallio said.
"We set ourselves to be a goal up or within a goal at half-time and we achieved that, but after that a couple of players fell over and Mark McLean got crook.
"They (Morningside) have improved since we played them in Cairns. We had our best 22 out there but we just couldn't finish the job this time."
In fact, the Thunder were missing centre-half-forward Peter MacFarlane, while brilliant skipper Jarred Ilett hobbled into the game with the groin problem that has bothered him for the last two months.
Despite that the Thunder came out with all guns blazing in a fiery opening half.
With Ben AhMat and Tiwi Island pair Brad Palipuaminni and James Puautjimi running hard, the Thunder more than matched the much-vaunted Panthers running brigade.
The local crowd was in full voice when the Thunder raced three goals clear 10 minutes into the second quarter but that’s when the big guns stood up for Morningside.
Ruckman Jacob Gough and ex-skipper David Lillico were catalysts in the Morningside revival, which rattled the Thunder either side of halftime.
The Panthers booted eight goals in a row until Keegan Dingo and Mitchell Taylor gave the Thunder some hope.
But the home side was spent and a five goal to two last quarter saw the Panthers inflict the second home loss on the Thunder in as many weeks.
Morningside’s spread of goalkickers was impressive.
Rather than relying on their big key forwards as was expected pre-game, the runners made full use of the big TIO Stadium ground to find gaping holes in the Thunder defence.
Midfielders Lillico, Paul Shelton, Ryan Holman, Sam Faure (pictured ) and Nathan Kinch each kicked two goals, with Shaun Mugavin booting four in another solid display at full-forward.
At the other end of the ground, Jarrod Price enjoyed another victory over the explosive Darren Ewing, holding the league’s leading goalkicker to three majors.
Price did a solid job on Ewing in their first clash after moving onto him at halftime.
Holman and Gough were again outstanding for the victors, while Damien Bonney gave his side great drive.
The feisty Shane Thorne was in everything for the Thunder, while the coaching staff were happy with ruckman Ryan Smith against the goliath Gough.
Cameron Ilett and AhMat also tried hard to lift their side.