Panthers Burst Kills off Sharks

Sunday 30 May 2009

Morningside killed off Southport with two quick bursts of goals in the third quarter to decide what was otherwise a tight contest befitting of a top of the table clash at Esplen Oval today.

Southport went into the Round 8 Velocity Sports Cup clash with six consecutive wins and Morningside with five, and little separated the sides in the first half.

However, the Panthers booted three goals in seven minutes early in the third term and four in six minutes late in the quarter to open a commanding 50-point lead.

Typical of the Sharks, they hit back with two goals in the last minute before three quarter time and refused to roll over in the last, the Panthers grinding out a 15.14 (104)-10.12 (72) victory.

It was a great way for Hayden Wilson, who applied enormous forward line pressure with his run and tackling in the decisive third term in particular, to celebrate his 100th game.

At the other end of the scale, his brother Justin was reported for allegedly attempting to trip Mark Rootsey in the opening two minutes of the game and tore a hamstring seven minutes into the last quarter.

He was giving the Sharks some life at that stage which they desperately needed after Paul Shelton had shredded them in the third term.

Shelton was the most destructive player on the ground, having rolled the dice in an intriguing shoot out with Danny Wise.

Both players were good in the first term, although Shelton was more dangerous as Morningside took control for the middle 20 minutes of the quarter.

By halftime Wise was close to best afield, working overtime in the midfield and setting up numerous attacks.

Yet it was Shelton who stamped the biggest imprint on the game with his stunning third quarter in which he collected possessions at will and more important engineered a string of centre breaks while under enormous pressure.

He roved brilliantly to the clever Jacob Gough, whose palming was outstanding all day but surgical during the third term.

"I was pretty happy with the work of all of our players in heavy traffic but Shelton has been really good for us and is getting better every week," said Morningside coach John Blair.

Lamented Southport rival Craig Crowley: "We didn’t react quick enough, that’s for sure. When they start running forward like that, they’re hard to beat."

Crowley's biggest concern would have been his side's inability to make the most of their chances up forward, with Ben Gibson doing a huge job with his spoiling and ability to rebound.

He received great support from veteran Nick Clark who kept the dangerous Justin Kahlefeldt under wraps in the first half, and youngster Alistair Nash.

Southport's leading goalkicker Luke Jarjoura took a spectacular high mark in the opening minutes and looked set for a big day with the first two goals of the game but was made to work hard by Brett Connell after that.

Jarjoura finished with 3.2 but could have kicked several more goals with an ounce of luck.

Kent Abey never stopped presenting for Morningside, collecting eight kicks and seven handballs in an entertaining duel with State full-back elect Kurt Niklaus.

The Panthers' small forwards roved particularly well at Abey's feet and the big forward could have had an even bigger impact had he not missed three set shots from 25 metres.

Morningside's reigning Grogan Medallist Nathan Kinch has rarely had a bad day against the top class opposition that Southport is and he was again in the best four players on the ground with dynamic, hard-running and constructive display.

Gough dropped back into the hole in defence nicely often during the game, while David Lillico lent strong support to Shelton in the clinches around the clearances and when resting up forward.

Wise never stopped trying for Southport, while former skipper Darren O’Brien was everywhere and it was mainly through his efforts the Sharks got back to within 26 points 10 minutes into the final term.

The Sharks had kicked four goals in a row and appeared capable of getting back into the contest further, with Justin Kahlefeldt providing plenty of run, although Justin Wilson's injury hurt them.

It was fitting that Shelton, who was a rookie at both Brisbane and Hawthorn without playing a senior AFL game, should burst through the middle and sink a running goal from 50m to end the fightback.

"Historically we have not always been very good with our milestone games and they always seem to come up in important games, so there was a build up for this one," Blair said of his side's determination to win for Wilson, who was chaired off the ground at the end.


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