New league, first win: Gympie Cats tame Lions in thriller
AUSSIE RULES: The Gympie Cats made a dream start to their new era in the Queensland Football Association Division 3 league with a nail-biting three-point win over the Moreton Bay Lions on Saturday.
New and experienced faces combined for the reigning AFL Wide Bay premiers against unfamiliar opponents on their home turf at the Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex, weathering minor deficits at half and three-quarter time to win 17.7 (109) to 16.10 (106).
Patrick Harris and Michael Gafa bagged five goals each in Dave "Tinners” Carroll's first game as coach, while Jordan Tucker and Kade Kent led from the front to finish first and second on the best list.
"You don't want those games every week, that's for sure. It was a pretty stressful finish,” Carroll said.
"As a non-playing coach there's not too much you can do in those last 10 minutes.
"There was a fair bit of mental attrition there. A lot of guys were cramping towards the end in the warm conditions but the boys willed themselves to keep getting to the contest. It was a fantastic start.”
It was the Tucker-Kent duo, along with 17-year-old backup ruckman Ronan Neville, who earned the bulk of his praise.
"Ronan took most of the ruck duties after half time and put in an outstanding effort. He won us a lot of taps and had a really high work rate all over the ground.
"We started strong winning clearances out of the middle but got smashed in the second quarter, so I told the midfield it was all down to them at half time, because you're putting your defenders under immediate pressure if you're losing the clearance count. Kade responded to that really well.
"Jordan Tucker really impressed me as a general in defence. He was really big on talk and directing his teammates, and lifted really well.”
The Cats will look back on last year's milestone when they unfurl their premiership flag at Ray Warren Oval before their clash with the ladder-leading Wynnum Vikings on Saturday.
The unfurling will be before the opening bounce at 2pm.