IT was a thrilling contest that went right down to the final siren, with Morningside Panthers remaining undefeated in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) thanks to a two-point victory over reigning premiers, Surfers Paradise. While Matthew Payne ultimately kicked the match-winning goal in the last minute, we take a look at a few of the young talents on show for both sides who caught the eye in Surfers Paradise’s Max Pescud, Jasper Graham and Myles Jewell, and Morningside’s Blake Coleman, Saxon Crozier, Nathan Colenso and Tom Griffiths.
#3 Max Pescud
Playing as a lead-up forward, Pescud was really busy in the first half, kicking a goal in each of the first two terms. His first came off reading the ball well from the bounce inside 50, cleverly sidestepping an opponent and kicked off a few steps straight through the middle. His second was more straightforward with a hard lead and strong mark 25m out which he duly nailed. It came after a late chance in the first term went begging to the right following a strong contested mark out in front one-on-one. Pescud has a nice little burst of speed off the contest and has the goal sense to get forward into dangerous positions.
In the third term he was a little quieter as Tom Griffiths went onto him at times. He pushed further up the ground and laid a strong tackle to lock the ball up in a stoppage, but by far his highlight was a massive hanger from five deep just inside 50. Unfortunately wheeling around on the right his shot stayed to the right. He did not get much opportunity in the fourth term with the ball predominantly in the Panthers’ half of the ground, but he scored his third goal after being on an early end-to-end play, marking 20m out with good position and slotting it home.
All in all, Pescud was impressive for the Demons, always looking dangerous, and if he had been able to convert those other two set shots, could have headed home with five, but three snags was terrific in a low-scoring contest.
#4 Jasper Graham
The overager is a midfielder-forward type who might not be big in stature, but he loves the contest. Straight from the get-go it was obvious he was willing to throw his body on the line and run hard. In the opening quarter, he took a good mark under fierce pressure inside 50 after copping contact but unfortunately his shot drifted far right. Not long after, he played the role of facilitator to get it to Pescud who sidestepped an opponent and kicked a great goal. He continued to push hard working up to the wing and roaming back inside 50 in the first half, setting up another goal, this time to Jack Brauman in the second term with a quick-fire handball out of traffic. He used great vision to spot the free Brauman who duly delivered from long-range.
In the third term he bullocked away with a great close-down tackle midway through the quarter to lock the ball inside 50. Whilst it was not his possession that provided another teammate – Tyson Brazel – with a goal, Graham’s ability to lock the ball up and force a stoppage gave Surfers a chance and they capitalised with a major. In another team-orientated play, Graham managed to gain some good distance with the kick along the wing and gained serious territory later in the third quarter. He did not see much action in the final term with the ball up the other end.
#31 Myles Jewell
A tall defender with some very nice traits that caught the eye. Still lean compared to others, Jewell is really strong in the air, clean with his marking and solid by foot. He can read the ball well in flight and was one of the Demons’ best in the tight loss. In the opening term, Jewell took a number of intercept marks by positioning himself well in the hole or a kick and a half behind play, knowing when the quick kick forward would come. He also showed he was willing to push up the ground and be an extra number if required, playing on the dangerous Reuben William at times. The second term he was quiet, but come the third, and in particular fourth terms, Jewell came alive with some big players in crunch moments.
The third did not start the way he would have liked, winning the ball in the contest and trying to handball to a teammate but misfiring to see it intercepted by Nathan Colenso who set up a goal for the Panthers. He made up for it with a big intercept mark in front of the dangerous Matt Hammelmann which showed he had some toe on the lead and was also not afraid to match it with stronger opponents. He timed a spoil to perfection in a pack early in the final stanza when William went up to mark, and then when William pushed up to the wing, he followed and got front position in a marking contest, reading the ball well and marking. One of the most impressive moments for Jewell was his terrific pack grab at half-back late in the term, calling for it off the kickout, then sliding across the pack to pull it in. He laid a desperate tackle in the last couple of minutes and closed down an opponent inside 50 who had to rush his kick.
Overall Jewell is a nice intercept defender with good hands, smarts in the air and athletic enough to play on smalls or talls. Aside from his one mistake with the errant handball, Jewell played a really strong game for the Demons.
#23 Blake Coleman
The lively forward had a quiet game by his standards with the ball, but it did not stop him providing a high level of pressure to the opposition. He was predominantly inside 50 for most of the game, but would push up to have stints through the middle, laying a big tackle late in the first term. The second term was his most productive. He started with his work at ground level early in the term able to see him keep the ball in front of himself, tried to spin out of trouble but was dispossessed. But he had a nice clean pick-up at half-forward off the half volley where he tapped it to his advantage then was able to use clean hands to handball. He had won the ball inside 50 about 35m out from goal and tried to snap after a quick burst out of a the stoppage, but his kick was smothered.
The second half he did not have many touches, but he is one of those players that still looks dangerous. He laid a crunching tackle five minutes into the third term at half-forward to lock the ball in the Panthers’ half, a theme of his game with his high-level defensive pressure. Coleman is good at keeping the ball in front of himself without taking possession because opposition players are aware of how quick he is, he can sometimes rely on a jumper pull to win a free, so he will tap the ball in front of himself without taking possession completely. He was also able to corral an opponent late in the match, forcing him to kick close to the boundary and along the line rather than open the game up through the middle.
#27 Saxon Crozier
Had a consistent four quarter game, and of the Panthers youngsters just kept getting involved. He had an early touch in the opening minute with a quick handball to a teammate who was able to deliver inside 50 for an early goal. Playing off a wing, Crozier was running hard and finding space with ease, and always getting to ball-winning positions. You can tell he is a natural ball-winner with the way he finds himself in positions around the field, and he earns the touches too with good hard running. He pushed hard into the back pocket at one stage in the opening term and won the ball, then cleared with composure. His vision and ability to open up angles with the handball is a strength, and despite being strong offensively, he still did the defensive things well, such as a spoil at half-back to knock the ball out of bounds away from Graham.
When having time and space, Crozier was able to hit up teammates well with nice kicks, and it was only when corralled he could sometimes chuck it on the boot for distance. He has the ability to give himself an extra metre or two and get his kick away, but has a safe option to kick long down the ground. His fourth term was memorable particularly early when he tricked opponents into thinking he was going to execute the handball back inside his defensive 50, only to sidestep, completely turn direction and then run out of the pack and kick long to the wing. He won the ball deep in defence again midway through the term, and then had a couple of impressive moments in the forward half late in the game. With seven minutes remaining, Crozier had a run through the middle, taking a bounce and having a long-range shot on goal from 50m but it drifted to the right. He continued to work hard and earned a free kick at half-forward to kick inside 50 a minute later.
Overall, Crozier was impressive, and most dangerous when he had time, space and options.
#32 Nathan Colenso
The over-ager can play as either a forward or a midfielder, but in this game was nearly exclusively inside 50. He has a big frame that he throws at the contest time and time again, and whilst he was lively in Round 3, had a quieter game in Round 4 this round. There is no question he puts his body on the line, laying some strong tackles, and after a quiet first half, he worked his way in with some moments. The third term he was tackled but managed to get his hands free and handball before being brought down – a feature of his game – and then moments later, set up a goal to Henry Joyce by intercepting an errant Jewell handball and timing his kick perfectly to hit-up his teammate inside 50.
Colenso looked a little ginger in the fourth term stretching out his quad later in the game, but he popped up in a crucial moment in the final minute, as Surfers Paradise attacked for one last roll of the dice. After kicking the go-ahead goal with 45 seconds remaining in the match, the Demons surged forward and Colenso’s opponent tried to win the ball off the half-volley, but the Gold Coast Suns Academy member crunched him enough to force the ball to bounce into the behind post on the opposite side of the forward 50.
#42 Tom Griffiths
It was a memorable game from Griffiths who was named among his side’s best in the narrow win. In the first half he was quiet, with only a kick on the boot through the middle and then a strong tackle at half-back to lock the ball up among the noticeable moments. He was playing his role without anything outstanding offensively, coming off half-back and dropping deeper to assist. Then came the second half, where he was massive in big moments, in particular, one-on-ones going to the dangerous Pescud at times who had two first-half goals.
His first appearance was actually at half-forward with a nice lead and mark just outside 50, delivering silver service to Hammelmann on the lead for a goal assist. While it might have looked like his role had changed, not long after, he was back in his usual post in defence, picking up a loose ball off the next opposition inside 50 and with clean hands helped Morningside get it out of danger. One-on-one against Pescud, Griffiths did well with his positioning to get in front and not allow his opponent much time to fly, taking a strong mark and hitting a target.
The final term was the most frantic, but also Griffiths’ best. He won a free kick at half-forward for being held in a tackle, and then pushed back into defence with nice pressure in the air to force the ball across the line. Composure personified, Griffiths was able to win a huge one-on-one at half-back when the Demons had numbers forward of the ball, then not only nullified the contest, but fended off his opponent and chipped well to a teammate, weighing his kick perfectly.
After a quieter start in terms of ball-winning but not defensive work, Griffiths got his offensive ability firing on all cylinders with accurate passes and big one-on-one moments that helped his side get over the line.