Ankle worries Beau as Bombers win thriller
11:56:43 AM Mon 3 June, 2002
Big Beau McDonalds first taste of reserves football in almost three years lasted less than a quarter yesterday in the Lions courageous loss to Redland on the Sunshine Coast.
McDonald dominated the tap-outs for the first 15 minutes of the game, then moved to full-forward and ultimately the bench as he decided against risking his dicey ankle further when it started to get sore.
The Lions Reserves missed his marking capacity up forward, but not in the ruck, as Dylan McLaren produced his second best-on-ground display in the space of a week.
McLarens palming ability at bounces was the centerpiece of his game early this season, but he has blossomed into a potent threat around the ground, and he took a string of big pack marks yesterday. None was better than in the sodden last quarter when he rose amidst a pack of 10 players to clasp the waterlogged, slippery Sherrin with one grab in a vice-like grip.
His efforts were not enough to secure a brave win, however, with Redland showing enormous determination and character to pile on four last quarter goals in the wet and grab outright third place on the AFLQ premiership table with an 11-8-74 to 9-13-67 victory.
A very good crowd turned out for the promotional contest at North Shore Football Clubs Mudjimba ground near Maroochydore Airport, despite a strong, cold breeze blowing down the ground towards the northern end.
The Lions capitalised perfectly on gaining first use of the wind, piling on 5-4 to 1-1 in the opening term. Craig Bolton won a string of centre breaks and kicked a good long goal himself, with McLaren controlling the air a kick behind the play. Damian Cupido also proved damaging up forward and he was again one of the sides better contributors in his third game back from a shoulder injury.
The Bombers hit back in the second term and appeared set to seize an advantage, only to be caught running forward of the play on several occasions and the Lions willingness to run hard and pinpoint passes helped them kick three valuable goals into the teeth of the wind.
They were hoping to open up a matchwinning lead in the third term after leading by 14 points at the main, but it was not to be. Redland worked hard getting players back inside the Lions 50m zone, and got more players around the ball to shut down any fast breaks as had happened in the first quarter.
The Lions missed three set shots from 40-50m in the opening seven minutes of the term, which proved critical in the final analysis. The heavens opened eight minutes later and a fierce squall lashed the ground, sending the crowd diving for shelter in the cars or under the marquees that ringed the ground.
The Lions managed 1-6 for term, while Redland kicked a crucial goal against the breeze.
However, the Lions still led by a healthy 19 points and while Redland had the aid of the wind, the ground was sodden and the ball extremely heavy.
Grogan Medallist Brad Jones came into his own in the conditions for Redland, taking complete control in the midfield and helping his side pepper the attacking 50m arc.
Captain-coach Dion Scott had struggled against the close attention of David Mapleston and Shane Morrison during the day, but pushed all his runners up the ground and left himself and Paul OBrien in space in front of goal.
The tactic worked beautifully, with Scott taking three strong, contested marks and kicking one goal for the term, and OBrien booting two from similar work.
Such was the Bombers dominance that they looked like winners from 10 minutes into the term, despite not hitting the front until the 20-minute mark.
While McLaren, Bolton and centreman Jarrad Wright battled hard against the numbers, they were powerless to stem the flow.
Wright was strong in the clinches all day, while half-back Luke Hammond continued his excellent form with another strong game, despite going into the game with a heavy dose of flu.
Hammonds pin-point footwork and great ability to read the play was responsible for a string of goals through the game.
The Lions cause was not helped by the loss of dangerous onballer Nick Raines, who had his nose broken in an accidental collision in the second term.
They went into the game without the competitions leading goalkicker Darren Bradshaw, who was a late withdrawal with groin soreness. Promising youngster Richard Hadley also missed his second game with mild osteitis pubis, while veteran Mick Martin missed another game with a calf complaint.
The late withdrawals required the Lions to pluck several youngsters who had represented them before from Suncoast Lions team, which had played the under 18 curtain-raiser yesterday, and they all handled themselves with aplomb.
In other games over the weekend, Mt Gravatt stayed unbeaten after a barnstorming 11-1 to 0-3 first quarter that flattened Broadbeach. The Vultures eased off the pedal to win 18-6-114 to 12-16-88.
The Northern Eagles showed they were not a spent force with a big 12-18-90 to 3-7-25 win over Morningside. The Panthers were held goalless in the first half as veteran Matthew Waters led his side back to respectability after the Eagles appeared to be on the wane.
Labrador opened their account and kept the Western Magpies winless with a 12-11-83 to 7-7-49 win, coming from a goal down at the last break. Former Southport rover Jamie Pilcher has been the Tigers best player this season and he was instrumental in the victory with a stack of possessions and four goals.
Southport had to work a lot harder than expected for their 15-12-102 to 5-8-38 win over bottom side Mayne at Kedron. The Nolan brothers have added some real heart to the Tigers, as has the return of Richard Champion from injury, and the quartet were the best for Mayne against yesterday.
Redland Bombers, 1-1, 6-4, 7-5, 11-8-74
Lions Reserves, 5-4, 8-6, 9-12, 9-13-67
Goals, Bombers: Wirth 3, OBrien 3, Tannahill, Lanyon, Nash, Scott, Faulkner. Lions: Cupido 2, Meveczky 2, Clarke, Bolton, McGrath, Hammond, Morrison.
Best, Bombers: Jones, Kelly, Stone, Nash, Heath. Lions: McLaren, Bolton, Wright, Hammond, Cupido.