by Daniel Viles

Saturday 19 August 2023, 2pm at Fankhauser Reserve, Southport
Live stream with commentary on YouTube

Head-to-Head: Played 4 – Southport won 3; Abandoned 1
Head-to-Head at Fankhauser Reserve: Played 1 – Southport won 1
Last time they met: 17 June 2023 – Southport 5.8 (38) d Aspley 4.3 (27) at Zupps Aspley Oval

This Saturday’s Bond University QAFLW Preliminary Final sees the newest team in the competition host the second-newest for the right to play the Grand Final against the third-newest.
Queensland women’s Aussie Rules has changed so quickly that not only is a new name on the list of state league Premiers guaranteed, but the combined number of years of the three remaining teams in the QAFLW (13) is matched by the longest-standing club in the league, Yeronga.

Preliminary Finals can deceive in that only the lower-ranked team is coming off a victory and can often look to have the momentum, but it should be remembered that Southport has been a clear if not comfortable victor over Aspley in both of their meetings this year.

Round 3’s victory at home began with Maggie O’Connell scoring in the first minute on her way to four in the match, also the number of goals the Sharks had at quarter-time. In Round 10, Aspley prepared for an early onslaught and were rewarded with Hanna Brennan setting up Holly Mirfield to score in the second minute, only for Southport to reply 20 seconds later when Carly Remmos cleared from the ball-up before receiving the fifth in a chain of handballs to kick a major from 20 metres out.

In both matches, the Hornets showed that they had methods of hurting the Sharks. Four of their six goals came from marks inside 30 with their small forwards (Hanna Brennan, Rachael Vetter, Louise Tyson) running wide and stretching the defence to give space for the likes of Jess Stallard and Holly Mirfield to mark on the lead. Their defence also showed that they could shut down routes to goal and force Southport’s attack to go where they wanted.

Southport’s solution was to have more options available to them than Aspley could stop simultaneously. In the first game, the Sharks’ attack was shown the corridor, so O’Connell and Gregory ruled the front 50. In the second match, Aspley protected the corridor and pushed them wide, so Hannah Davies and Carly Remmos ran amok.

At the back of the park, the Sharks found that the best method of dealing with the Hornets’ front five was not to let the ball get past halfway in the first place. Southport’s midfield is brilliant at winning and moving the ball, but the primary reason that the Sharks were minor premiers is that no other midfield was consistently better at regaining possession 50 to 80 metres from goal.

That’s not just the inside midfield either, that’s from wing to wing. So often, the wide midfielders would regain the ball and relaunch the attack in one movement, although if you’re Rianna Schipp, you might be able to score from 45 metres (as she did in the first match) or maybe even 50 (as she did in the second).

With that in mind, this may be a rare case of a finals match being won on the wings. Jaimie Bryant played the two matches against Southport at halfback and Holly O’Flaherty didn’t play at all, so this will be a new challenge for the Sharks. If the likes of Schipp, Abbie Pluples and Sarah Ingram can continue to turn over the ball on the wing and ensure their forwards never go hungry, Southport will be on its way to a second Grand Final. However, if Bryant and O’Flaherty, with help from inclusions Ari Williams and Elysse McNiven, can win those wide contests and give their defenders a breather, the upset will be on.

FB | 35 Jess Maher | 24 Alessia Smythe (vc)
HB | 1 Kristi Harvey | 27 Georja Davies | 11 Leigh Alder
C | 45 Maddie Gault | 14 Maddy Watt | 8 Abbie Pluples
HF | 57 Ruby Mitchell | 36 Maggie O’Connell | 4 Hannah Davies
FF | 21 Selina Priest (c) | 32 Tayla Gregory
FOL | 7 Steph O’Brien | 10 Carly Remmos | 47 Georgia Breward
IC | 2 Rianna Schipp (c) | 19 Sarah Ingram | 34 Meghan Sullivan | 46 Maddy Baldwin | 58 Peyton Mackie

EMG | 5 Jess Malouf | 12 Tamsin Perry | 16 Tori Winstanley

Coach: Peter Doherty

IN: Georja Davies; Rianna Schipp
OUT: Tamsin Perry; Tori Winstanley

FB | 20 Emma Pittman | 13 Lucy Thompson
HB | 16 Anna van de Wiel | 23 Ange Lingard (c) | 5 Lucy Pengelly
C | 15 Jaimie Bryant | 8 Maddy Kawa | 22 Holly O’Flaherty
HF | 9 Louise Tyson | 59 Holly Mirfield | 37 Rania Crozier
FF | 40 Rachael Vetter | 25 Jess Stallard
FOL | 54 Emma Lendrum | 4 Courtney Daniec (c) | 30 Mikayla Martin
IC | 1 Ari Williams | 10 Morgan Lanigan | 12 Lucia Liessi | 19 Hanna Brennan | 29 Elysse McNiven

EMG | 32 Bree McKenzie | 35 Ella Desrettes

Coach: Luke Glacken

IN: Elysse McNiven; Ari Williams
OUT: Hannah Giles; Anais Kirvan

You can watch all matches in the Bond University QAFLW by visiting the Official AFLQ YouTube channel.

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