NQ HOPES GO SOUTH
THE five North Queensland AFL leagues will have 12 months to find a handful of bigger- bodied midfielders if they are going to compete with South Queensland in 2018.
For the second year straight, the South’s experienced on- ball brigade, led by former Brisbane Lion Daniel Dzufer, blitzed their northern rivals to claim the annual rep game.
NQ, made up of players from Cairns, Capricornia, Mackay, Mount Isa and Townsville, improved as the game went on but the damage had already been done in the opening two quarters as SQ held on to win 12.14 ( 86) to 8.8 ( 56).
Port Douglas defender Wes Glass won the Wayne Jackson Medal for most outstanding NQ player, while Townsville pair Leroy Larson ( University Hawks) and Jarryd Graham ( Hermit Park Tigers) also played well in the curtain- raiser for the Suns/ Bulldogs clash at Cazalys Stadium in Cairns.
The hosts were best served by Crathern Medal contender Mathew Medcraft while Cairns Saints pair Joel Newman and Fitzroy Greenwool showed flashes of brilliance.
NQ coach Brad Cooper felt his midfield struggled to compete against the opponents’ strong on- ball unit.
“We started slowly and did not play accountable football,” Cooper said. “We gave them a start and a quality side like them did not waste it.
“We had to work really hard for our goals where they seemed to get them easily.”
South had an obvious plan to not be beaten by Port Douglas skipper Kye Chapple as they swarmed on the full forward every time he was near the ball.
After winning the first two encounters between the regions, the North will need to convince a handful of their better players who avoided selection this year to play in 2018 if they are to turn the tables.
“I do not think we have got the full buy- in from players,” Cooper said. “We get full buy- in for the players that have turned up today.
“There are others who have decided not to play for whatever reason.
“All we can do is put together a program that becomes attractive to players and coaches of local clubs. For guys who have played NQ, the standard they played will hold them in good stead leading into the finals.”
Of the four years the game has been played, the ledger is now even at two wins each.
NQ fell behind early on as SQ took a 15- point advantage into the first change with Ezekiel Frank and Greenwool booting goals in the opening term. The hosts got on top for periods of the third term but battled to turn it into scoreboard pressure with just Medcraft and Chapple goaling.
In the AFL Townsville competition Thuringowa Bulldogs further solidified third place on the table with a 27.11 ( 173) to 3.2 ( 20) thumping of the winless Curra Swans, with Daine Macdonald ( seven goals), Rim Kris ( seven) and Lachlan O’Dwyer ( six) kicking bags.
Ladder leaders University were far too strong for Northern Beaches 12.13 ( 85) to 5.6 ( 36).