By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
Broadbeach produced their best finishing position in their QAFL tenure in 2017, finishing in the top three for the first time since the QAFL’s realignment.
While the Cats’ season was perhaps overshadowed by the dominance of their fellow Gold Coast clubs – Labrador and Palm Beach Currumbin, their improvement, from seventh in 2016 to their third-place finish, underpins a successful season at Subaru Oval.
A four-game winning streak between Rounds 4-7 was the standout month for Broadbeach, who finished the season with nine wins, a draw and an ever-crucial September victory.
But their ability to grind out wins in tight games became their trademark and their true highlight of 2017 – setting the Cats above the competition’s middle pack.
Broadbeach carved out wins by three goals or less on four occasions against the Demons, Magpies, Gorillas and Vultures.
After qualifying for the finals, Broadbeach came agonisingly close to usurping the eventual premier Palm Beach Currumbin in the first week, falling short by just 11-points in one of the best games of the season.
With a double-chance up their sleeve, the Cats kept their premiership hopes alive with a week two win over Morningside – the third time throughout the season where they had the Panthers’ measure, before a loss to Labrador in the Preliminary Final spelt an end to their underdog campaign.
Ahead of the 2018 season opener, Broadbeach head coach Brett Andrews was hopeful his side could do one better this year and looked toward experience to help the Cats achieve that.
Despite playing down his side’s new recruits, Andrews was adamant those new players could contribute throughout the year.
“We’ve brought in a bit more experience. We thought we were a bit young last year and we needed a few more leaders,” Andrews told aflq.com.au.
“Blake Erickson, Chook (Matthew) Fowler, Ryan Pantic – guys from Southport who are ex-Broadbeach boys add experience in the middle.”
“Those three with NEAFL experiences are good people to have around the club. They should make our game plan on the inside pretty good.”
Among Broadbeach’s other recruits are Darcy Irwin and Daniel Seri who have both moved to the club from Drouin in Victoria, along with Tasmanian pair Kyle Palmer-Hughes and Jordan Andrews who could make a push for the QAFL Rising Star in 2018.
“We thought we were a bit young last year and we needed a few more leaders,” Andrews said.
The numerous new inclusions not only boost Broadbeach’s experience level around the ground but has resulted in Andrews toying with the game plan to accommodate the playing styles of the recruits.
“Obviously, everything is sort of based on defence and we thought we had a pretty good game plan last year with the run and carry but we’ve tinkered with it a bit.”
“We like to switch and spread the play. We’ve now got a bit more grunt in the middle.”
“Last year, we played a really good outside game, but I think this year we’re stronger on the inside as well.”
Broadbeach open their 2018 season this Saturday, April 21, at Subaru Oval against Morningside; a team which the Cats have enjoyed recent success against.
But despite their success against the Panthers, Andrews kept a lid on any complacency, suggesting the QAFL’s development meant the league was as good as ever.
“It’s getting better and better every year. This year will be the same.”
“Palm Beach and Labrador were the two best teams last year and so we’ve got to be better again.”
Throughout the preseason, Broadbeach experienced a difficult run of practice games, coming up against Gold Coast’s NEAFL side and their academy in the lead up to the season, before more recent matches against Mt Gravatt and Sandgate.
“It probably dug into our last month of preparation a bit but it was also good to have a hit out. Last year, we had two practice matches rained out so this year, we thought we’d get in as many as we could.”
“It’s be been a bit up and down. We really didn’t get going until February because a couple of recruits came a bit later. We’ve also had a few injuries and a few post-ops. We’re just starting to get it together now.”
Their third-place finish has held them in good stead though, and for Andrews, their aim is to finish 2018 in a similar position.
“We came third last year and we had a really good finals series for such a young group.”
“Unfortunately, coming third doesn’t mean we will come second this year, so we have to fight for it. Like everyone, we put ourselves in the finals race.”
“We had a lot of injuries late last year to our senior crew, so we’re hoping to get a good base week in week out for September, get ourselves in the finals and then hopefully we get a bit of luck.”
Following their Round 1 matchup with Morningside, Broadbeach face the Western Magpies, Surfers Paradise and Mt Gravatt in which the Cats ought to be optimistic about kicking off their year with multiple wins.