The Woodsmen took on Morningside in the QFA Elimination Final on Friday night in front of a big home crowd on ‘Pie Night’ at the club. The theme continued as it certainly was the Pies night as they ran out 5 goal winners after a tough first half, before the experienced Woodies players took over to put the game to bed.
Getting off his sick bed for the match, regular CHF Matt Hockley was moved closer to goal to reduce his workload after a flu-ridden week and he produced the goods with a 6 goal haul, thanks to some quality finishing and regular supply from a dominant midfield.
The Woodies were strong early winning the first clearance and pushing forward, and while they spent a majority of the first quarter camped in their attacking 50 were only able to kick 2.3 for the quarter after some wayward kicking and some poor options going forward.
The 2nd quarter was more finely balanced with Morningside putting some good passages together, but a feature of the game was the ease with which the Woodies were able to rebound out of the defence and not spend petrol tickets with long period of defensive footy in their own half, while in contrast regularly locked the ball forward for repeat offensive opportunities.
Irish Sammy Banim was his usual lively self and set up an important second quarter goal for Captain/Coach Chris Mihalopoulous with a scinitilating peace of brilliance on the flank finishing with a deft left foot pass straight into Mika’s bread basket. Meanwhile the expected dominance through the midfield was coming to fruition with the Woodies batting particularly deep through the middle with the prolific Curtis and Judson, and the bullocking Woods and DeNys. Meanwhile, Morrison provided a touch of class despite being a little rusty coming back from an ankle injury.
This midfield depth allows the Woodies to play the likes of Chris Davis across half-back where his work rate, tackling and vocal direction are key, while Brent Hocking and Chris Mihaloplous are able to spend all their time forward without blowing up with midfield stints.
Also down back, Tim Green was controlling the air and while the Woodies were slightly undersized for height - the likes of Hopkins, Bilko, Prior and La Burniy dominated at ground level and Young was able to take plenty of intercept marks.
Kiran Verma played arguably his best game of the year showing some vintage speed, while Jake Fuentes was an important link man on the opposite wing.
With a 1 goal lead at half time, the Woodies were able to largely control the game in the 2nd half kicking 6 goals straight to take a 7 goal lead into time on before some junk time goals from the Panthers brought the final margin back to 5 goals.
Jason Evans was particularly strong in the 2nd half with some bustling play and the Panthers were noticeably beginning to 2nd guess themselves in contests as the experienced Magpies were strong and uncompromising over the footy. Judson was incredibly prolific and took huge advantage of Thomson’s ruck dominance around the ground as the midfield functioned beautifully. The addition of boundary throw-ins instead of ball ups for the finals certainly assists the older style ruckmen who prefer a wrestle to a jumping contest!
The reward for the victory is a Friday night game against Maroochydore in Maroochydore, and some of the Woodies are rumoured to have left already to beat the traffic!
Woodies 2.3 - 15 | 4.3 - 27 | 7.6 - 48 | 10.9 - 69
Morningside 1.1 - 7 | 3.3 - 21 | 3.6 - 24 | 5.7 - 37
Best: Thomson, Evans, Hockley, Judson, Green, Verma (average age 35!)
Goals: Hockley 6, Evans, Hocking, Mihalopoulos, Judson 1