Gympie Cats cough up hairball in Hinterland heartbreaker
AFL: An undermanned Gympie Cats squandered a last quarter lead to suffer a heartbreaking Queensland Football Association loss at the hands of the Hinterland Blues last Saturday.
The Cats' third foray into their first season as members of the QFA Division 3 competition began well as they booted four of the game's first five goals, but a momentum swing saw their buffer cut to seven points at the first break.
Dave Carroll's men found another gear in the second term, adding three more majors to go in 49-34 leaders at half time, but the Blues brought the margin back to one straight kick at the final change.
A lack of legs through the midfield meant the Cats couldn't quite respond to the home side's final quarter challenge, going down 11.13 (79) to 11.10 (76) at the full-time siren.
Carroll said his side was reeling from the tough loss.
"It's one of those games where you have the lead all day bar three minutes, maybe not even that, and can't finish off at the end,” he said.
"It felt as though we wouldn't be able to hold the lead when they were coming at us, they're probably not as fresh as I'd like at the moment.
"It was a hard slog, and the heavy ground under lights and the dew probably didn't suit our style of play.”
A silver lining came in the form of strong performances from forward duo Patrick Harris (five goals) and Michael Gafa (three), who find themselves sitting third and fourth in the league goal-kicking table after Round 3.
Rising young ruckman Ronan Neville also earned plaudits from the coach.
"He's probably been our most consistent player so far this year,” Carroll said.
"It's not just his tap work and providing our midfielders with first use, it's his work around the ground that's just outstanding.
"We're probably running him into the ground a bit.”
A return to Ray Warren Oval this Saturday against Kedron gives the Cats a chance to redeem their 121-point thrashing at the hands of ladder leaders Wynnum three weeks ago.
The opening bounce is scheduled for 2pm.