SUPER SIX: Talking points from Round 11 in AFL Mackay
MAGPIES LEAVE IT LATE
Mackay Magpies almost paid the price again for their inaccuracy, escaping Harrup Park with a five-point win against Mackay City Hawks on Saturday.
The Hawks held sway by nine points at three-quarter time and looked poised to seal one of the upsets of the season, but the Pies would not be denied, prevailing 12.16 (88) to 13.5 (83).
Heath Thiele bobbed up with a couple of big goals in the final term and Aaron Whinfield's major at the 21 minute mark ultimately proved the winner.
In a round of good contests, this game contained plenty of spice with a number of yellow cards dished out.
Tasmanian export Jarrod Watling haunted his former club, booting four goals for the Magpies.
Watling enjoyed a successful stint at the Hawks in 2015, sandwiched between a career that has seen him predominantly play and coach home club Smithton, now Circular Head Giants, but also grace the Tasmanian State League with Clarence and Devonport.
Thiele snagged three majors, while Connor Smith, fresh from representing North Queensland, won plenty of the footy and South Australian import James Gruitt also impressed.
It proved a significant win with the fourth-placed Magpies now 12 points (three wins) ahead of the Hawks in the race for a finals berth.
HAWKS RUE ANOTHER CLOSE LOSS
SATURDAY'S defeat in a match that was a classic eight-pointer means finals footy looks an uphill task for Mackay City.
Or is it?
A win on Saturday would have closed the gap to four points on the Magpies (and Bakers Creek for that matter) in the race for the finals series.
But the door isn't quite nailed shut and Mackay City does have a reasonable fixture ahead.
They only play North Mackay and Eastern Swans once, but face Bakers Creek (twice), Moranbah (home), Whitsunday (away) and Mackay Magpies (home) during the remainder of the home and away season.
Can the Hawks charge home with a late flurry?
Especially as their problem with playing numbers is easing a touch.
When they have a full compliment, Mackay City are a more than capable line-up as they highlighted against Magpies.
Three-time league medallist Desmond Hayes was again in the thick of everything, while Chris Butcher bobbed up with three goals.
William Rose, David Goodwin and Jakson Webb were other shining lights for the Hawks, whose fortunes have improved with the return of experienced duo Owen Battersby and Barry Badcock to the senior ranks.
Moranbah climbed off the bottom of the Allied Pickfords Cup ladder following a 16-point home win against Whitsunday.
The Bulldogs shook of an undermanned, but gallant Sea Eagles outfit 15.14 (104) to 13.10 (88) at the kennel.
Moranbah flew out of the blocks to lead by 25 points at the first change and it looked a case of how far for the home side.
But the visitors cut the deficit to 17 points by half-time and seven at the final change, setting the scene for an enthralling last quarter.
The Bulldogs found a hero in Sam Davis, who after a semi-quiet afternoon, bobbed up with a valuable three-goal cameo.
He snagged the first inside the opening minute and by the time number three turned up, Moranbah was 22 points ahead.
Davis, Lachlan King and the consistent Jake Tollenaar, who is having a fine season with the Dogs, each finished with three goals, while Dakota Matthews, Todd Makejev and Callum Johnstone featured in the best.
TEN OF THE BEST
As far as individual performances this season, Whitsunday key forward Dylan Ryan produced one of the best, if not the best in a losing cause at Moranbah on Saturday.
The Sea Eagles, who forfeited against North Mackay the previous week and then travelled to the Central Highlands with limited troops, had their backs well and truly against the wall.
He bagged both of Whitsunday's goals in the first term and had five at half-time when the Sea Eagles trailed 9.5 (59) to 6.6 (42).
Three in the third quarter lifted his tally to eight at the final change and two more in the last quarter saw Ryan finish with 10 goals despite being on the losing side.
He became the third player in the AFL Mackay competition in 2019 to boot 10 goals, joining Bakers Creek's Jordan Cullen (v Whitsunday in Round 2) and Eastern Swans' Chris Burdon (v Moranbah in Round 8).
But both of those hauls came in resounding wins, making Ryan's effort in a losing cause even more noteworthy.
He has been a shining light in a difficult season for Whitsunday after making the move north from Western Border Football League club Casterton-Sandford.
If he doesn't get the three votes on M.J Miller Medal night, there will be an inquiry launched.
SWANS ROLL ON
In the end, the scoreboard said a 13.13 (91) to 3.3 (21) win to Eastern Swans against Bakers Creek.
But it was a tight struggle at Etwell Park up until the main break, until the Swans found another gear in the second-half, booting eight goals to one.
Rising star Darcy Mealy did his M. J Miller Medal hopes no harm, with a four-goal haul and Kane Evans snagged three.
South Australian recruit Jack Ramsey is one in a rich vein of form and was named as the Swans' best, with Tyron Wood and Dylan McCutcheon.
The win was the ninth on the trot for the Swans ahead of this Saturday's blockbuster with unbeaten North Mackay at Rogers Oval.
It will be interesting to see how the Saints start the match with 21 days between games after not having to take the field to get the four points from Whitsunday and then having the bye at the weekend.
TIGERS SHOW SIGNS, BUT FACE SOME BIG WEEKS AHEAD
So what do we make of Bakers Creek after Saturday's loss to the Swans?
The endeavour was there for the Tigers and they certainly had periods of the contest in the first-half where they were on top.
But the Swans' superior run and class shone through, particularly after the main break.
Bakers Creek come into a challenging stretch of matches during the next month or so.
The Tigers face a resurgent Mackay City at Harrup Park this weekend before hosting North Mackay at home.
That is followed by the bye and home matches against Mackay Magpies, their rivals for third spot, Eastern Swans and Hawks again in Round 17.
ROUND 12 FIXTURE, JUNE 29
Eastern Swans v North Mackay Saints at Rogers Oval.
Moranbah Bulldogs v Mackay Magpies at Stevenson Sports Park.
Mackay City Hawks v Bakers Creek Tigers at Harrup Park.
Whitsunday Sea Eagles bye.