QAFL: Round 1 2024 – Match of the Round Report

By Chris Yeend 
Photo: Highflyer Images
MORNINGSIDE has kick-started its 2024 season in emphatic fashion with an impressive 40-point win over Labrador at Jack Esplen Oval on Saturday.
The Panthers led by 13-points at the opening break before kicking 13 of the 18 goals across the second and third quarters to set up a tremendous victory in front of an adoring home crowd; 22.8.140 to 14.16.100.
Morningside’s score of 140 points was its highest score since its tally of 143 points (21.17) recorded back on June 16 2018 against Mt Gravatt 2121 days earlier. It had recorded 140 points (21.14) against Labrador on August 18 of the same year.
Morningside started its dominance early under second-year coach Egan when Kai Purslow found himself on the end of a hack kick forward from ruckman Brad Hodge inside 50 and snapped truly from close range 3-minutes into the contest.
The second goal of the contest came through the aid of some brilliant transitioning from defence to the forward line with a coast-to-coast run on the far wing that had Kelly Castle kick the first of four goals for the day for the Panthers just five-minutes in.
In a frenetic opening term that had goals flow freely from both ends of the ground; Labrador was able to add some reward for missed opportunities with consecutive goals in the space of a minute; the second off the boot of Finn Brown who was front-and-square to a big kick inside 50 and converted with class from 35-metres out to give his team a four-point lead heading into time-on.
Consecutive goals in the shadows of quarter-time, the second coming from a wonderful snap off the boot of former Geelong and Brisbane Lions forward Nakia Cockatoo from 40-metres out sent the margin out to 13-points at the opening break.
A staggering 11-goals were kicked in a pulsating term that ended with a beat of heat between the pair with a solid push and shove after the siren.
When Ben Gibbeson kicked a goal from an inside 50 stoppage for Labrador 5-minutes into the quarter; the margin was cut back to seven-points.  It followed a few missed opportunities that trimmed the margin back to five-points; this would be the closest the Southern Tigers would get for the rest of the game.
Morningside kicked a staggering eight-goals without a miss to turn a five-point lead into a 31-point half-time lead in one of the most remarkable goal-kicking performances we will see this season.
Kelly Castle and Jake Godwin led the damage with two goals each for the quarter; one after the other.
Morningside led 14.2.86 to 6.13.49 at the main break.
The carnage continued in the opening stages of the third term. Former Shark-now-Panther Matt Waters kicked his first goal for the club with a brilliant individual effort. He chased down a defender just short of 50 metres out from goal near the boundary; was awarded a free kick and kicked truly on the wrong side of the ground for a right footer to balloon the margin out to a game-high 43-points just 7.5-minutes into the quarter.
The effort from Waters was the first of three goals for the quarter for the recruit. His third goal had him on the receiving end of a stunning, yet typical run of play from half-back with former Tooradin-Dalmore onballer Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds working in tandem with Cam Lovig in a passage of play that was a thing of pure beauty.
With the margin out to 74-points; Labrador’s Tom Simpson ended the run of nine unanswered goals from the home team.
The Southern Tigers kicked the final three goals of the quarter to close the margin to 56-points heading into the final change.
For the record; Morningside kicked nine goals without a miss.
Both teams were determined to run out the game strongly. With the margin out to 64-points late in the game; Labrador kicked the final four goals of the contest to reach the century; but finishing 40-points behind on the scoreboard.
For Morningside; the twin towers of Keegan Dwonie (five) and Matt Waters (three) combined for eight goals; small forward Kelly Castle (four) and damaging utility Jake Godwin (three) combined for seven goals; while Brad Hodge, Tommy Hornie, Zac Straker and Garrett McDonagh were sensational.
For Labrador; former Gold Coast Sun Academy product Will Derrington kicked four goals while Darcy McEldrew, Charlton Offermans, Jesh Morgan, Jay Foon and Aiden Fyfe impressed.
Morningside hosts Maroochydore on April 24 while Labrador travel to Subaru Oval to take on Broadbeach on the same day with both teams coming off disappointing losses.
SURFERS Paradise opened its 2024 account with an impressive 70-point win on the road against Noosa. After a tight first term with the margin at just five-points; the Demons kicked six goals to one in the second term to open up a 39-point half-time lead to set up its 18.16.124 to 8.6.54 victory.
For Surfers Paradise; former Leopold 2023 premiers player kicked six goals while fellow recruits Ewan Macpherson and Zac Smith impressed. Jamison Shea made the most of the VFL bye with two goals in a solid outing.
For Noosa; former Bordertown forward Curtis McCarthy kicked two goals while Mitch Langan and Billy Bowes worked hard.
TWO-time defending premiers Aspley opened up its premiership title defence with a hard-fought 32-point win over 2023 semi-finalists Broadbeach.
In a see-sawing affair; the Hornets led the Cats by eight-points heading into the final quarter before kicking 3.9 to three-points to close out the game 10.21.81 to 7.7.49 victors.
For Aspley; Connor Stackleberg kicked four goals and former Sherwood forward (albeit 2023 in the QFA for Aspley) Josh Coombes kicked two goals and former Mt Gravatt onballer Joel Leahy impressed on debut with a best on ground performance and a goal on debut for the club.
For Broadbeach; young guns Taine Dawson (four) and Riley Bowman (two) shared six of the team’s seven goals while reigning Grogan Medal winner Kwaby Boakye and defender Kasey Nicholas impressed.
REDLAND-Victoria Point had no issues with the late venue change to Kenmore against Maroochydore with a flawless 90-point win.
The 2023 Grand Finalists kicked the opening 13 goals of the game to lead by 80-points prior to half-time before sprinting away to a 22.8.140 to 7.8.50 win.
For RVP; Matt Hammelmann (six) teamed up former Mt Gravatt forward and genuine superstar Dylan Smith (four) to kick 10 of the team’s 22 goals. Former Killarney Vale Bomber Nathan Smith celebrated his first game as a Shark with a best on ground performance.
For Maroochydore; Mitch Scholard kicked two goals while Thomas Holt and Lukas Kangar stood out.
IN one of the games of the weekend; Palm Beach Currumbin held off a typically fast-finishing Wilston Grange outfit by just four-points.
The contest produced 35 goals but there was none better than the first with Lions’ legend Jonathon Coad kicking the opening goal of the game. Coad injured his leg in an horrific incident in Round 1 last year and endured a lengthy recovery. This goal was one of the feel-good stories of the round.
In the game itself; both teams traded blows late in the quarter but it was former Byron Bay forward Blayne Hull; with ice in his veins, sealing the contest for the Lions with a late goal to put them in front and celebrating a 18.10.118 to 17.12.114 win.
For PBC; small forward Cory Beaman kicked six goals and recruit Blair Rubock kicked four goals while Liam O’Brien and Tai Hayes impressed.
For Wilston Grange; goal kicking machine Lachy Rhook kicked six goals and Lions VFL listed player Jack Manly kicked three goals; while Rhys Mathieson dominated on debut with a best on ground performance and VFL Lions Joel Budarick and Bailey Gordon impressed.
NOW for the most extraordinary news of the weekend; after a change of coaches mere weeks before the season starting; Sherwood has overcome the rollercoaster that came with that process and won the opening game of the season over Mt Gravatt.
The Pies not only saluted victory on the road; it did so by 100-points in its biggest QAFL win in many seasons and in a rare case for the club, finishes Round 1 on top of the ladder.
This a remarkable achievement by the club that has had some very challenging results in the past few seasons; and it’s a testament to Andrew Thomson and the team to persist and strive for success on and off the field. This win; regardless of the margin – means so much for this proud club.
Jack Austin, captain Will Fletcher and Round 2 VFL Brisbane Lions hero Liam Hude kicked three goals for Sherwood in the 20.21.141 to 6.5.41 win. Riley Greene was outstanding.
For Mt Gravatt; it was a tough start in its new chapter at the club as Fletcher Clare kicked three goals while Jackson Griffiths and Austin Brent impressed.

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