Match of the round
Western Magpies vs. Palm Beach Currumbin. Live blog: http://aflq.com.au/western-magpies-vs-palm-beach-currumbin/
Mt Gravatt has taken their game to new heights over the past few weeks, on a streak including momentous victories over contenders Palm Beach Currumbin and Broadbeach. It could be argued the improvement of their tall forward line targets and the addition of Andrew Smith is the reason for their turnaround, though that would be a disservice to their contested ball beasts.
Zac Stone, skipper Joe Murphy and Frazer Neate have made it difficult for their opposition in recent weeks, by way of simply denying them access to the footy. Each of these midfielders are inside bulls, that love getting their head in dangerous places and moving the ball forward at any cost.
The Vultures take on the Panthers this weekend in a third v fourth clash and it’s the inside battle that will go a long way to dictating the outcome. Morningside’s run in the last month has been just as impressive as Mt Gravatt with their last loss, against Labrador, occurring all the way back in round nine. If the Panthers are to get the points, however, the likes of captain Matthew Logan, Lachlan Dignan and Ashley Evans will need to roll their sleeves up at the coalface.
Also lining up for the Panthers are Brisbane Lions Academy prospects Keidean Coleman (half back) and 19-year-old Ryan Dadds (half forward); two dangerous talents that can impact with time and space.
Tiger young gun Cooper Portelli put on a show last week for Labrador against the Hawks, owning his position in the senior side and competing well against senior QAFL bodies. Portelli will again line up in the successful Tigers midfield when they take on the Gorillas, but this time he’ll be part of a young ‘Tiger brigade’ of talent.
Back into the side this week is U16 Queensland state captain Connor Budarick, as well as Gold Coast SUNS Academy prospects Charlton Offermans and Harry Simmington.
Simmington, who played for the Allies at the U18 National Championships after a strong Academy Series, is a tall midfielder that can provide plenty of outside run and skill. The Gold Coast talent is making his senior QAFL debut this week, after a number of NEAFL games for the SUNS.
The Tigers’ Round 15 opponents, Wilston Grange, are also fielding a side heavy on youth this week. Six of the Gorillas’ 22 are Rising Star eligible, a group including strong performing youngsters Harry Milford and Jordan McIvor-Clark.
The sky lounge
Young Hawk Cody Stackleberg has put together about as good a three weeks as anyone could expect from a 17-year-old playing at QAFL level. The strong bodied midfielder has battled away through the middle of the ground, often outgunned against senior QAFL opposition, and come away with the footy more often than not.
Sandgate now face the Broadbeach Cats, who have dropped from third to fifth on the ladder in recent weeks and will need to get some wins on the board to hold on to secure a finals berth.
The Cats are missing the likes of mountainous forward target Mitch Brewer and midfield gun Luke Shreeve due to injury, as well as their exciting Papua New Guinean trio who’ll be playing in the International Cup in Melbourne. As the finals approach the Hawks clash looms as a great test of Broadbeach’s depth.
Under the radar
The Western Magpies will take to the park on Saturday with seven QAFL Rising Star eligible players this week, but what has perhaps gone under the radar is that their side has sported a strong youth contingent all year.
The Magpies head into their matchup against Palm Beach Currumbin, perhaps as underdogs, but their star studded forward line always gives them a chance. Jakob De Winter, Val Pope, Charlie Pershouse and Liam Dwyer at stages, all offer something different to the Magpies’ forward mix and if given the opportunity can score really quickly.
On the flipside, Palm Beach are set to play a more experienced 22, in what looks like a good test for the Magpies youth. Lions goal kicker Jarryd Douglas comes back into the side and couldn’t appear at a better time, as they begin to ramp up for their finals campaign.
Demons coach Brad Moore has the bye this week, so took time out to provide some insight into Round 15’s games. First up, he spoke about the Western Magpies’ game against Palm Beach.
“They can be a really dangerous team,” said Moore when talking about the Magpies.
“They’re a fair chance. I think it’s going to be a big ask against Palmy, I think Palmy are starting to come good at the business end of the year.”
The last time Broadbeach played Sandgate, it resulted in a thrilling draw, but Moore thinks things might be different this time around.
“If you don’t watch them closely (Sandgate), they can cause some damage,” said the Surfers Paradise coach.
“But I think Broadbeach would have probably learnt a lot of lessons out of the last time they played and will be looking to bounce back in their home game.”
A young Wilston Grange side will come up against Labrador, a team with some exceptional experienced players; which is exactly the type of challenging situation that Moore is used to, given he’s at the helm of a young side himself.
“In the end, you go out there with a young group and you just give them a license just to hopefully play freely. There’s nothing to lose and sometimes you can get the best out of players when they’re not too caught up in their performance, as such, and just go out and play freely, with a free spirit,” said Moore.
Moore is particularly excited about the Mt Gravatt versus Morningside game, which he thinks will be one of this season’s most exciting battles.
“I reckon it will probably be one of the games of the year,” said Moore.
“I really couldn’t pick a winner, on form as well as where they’re both sitting on the ladder. It’s a real toss of the coin in my opinion.”
Broadbeach vs. Sandgate
Download footy record: Cats vs Hawks Round 15
Labrador vs. Wilston Grange
Download footy record: Tigers vs Gorillas Round 15
Mt Gravatt vs. Morningside
Download footy record: Vultures vs Panthers Round 15
Western Magpies vs. Palm Beach Currumbin
Download footy record: Magpies vs Lions Round 15
By Sean Melrose