Submitted by Chris Yeend
The latest round of the QAFL Senior Men’s competition took an interesting turn when Labrador recorded one of the most remarkable wins of the 2022 Home and Away season.
The Tigers travelled to Victoria Point to take on the Sharks and after trailing by 15-points deep into time-on in the second term, stormed home in the second half to record a famous 31-point win with victory for the Gold Coast-based club was one that few would have predicted against one of the flag favourites.
Labrador conceded the first 45-points of the game against Aspley at Graham Road in the previous round, and lost Goldsmith and Boston to injuries following that clash, taking out some key midfield and forward line depth.
With the re-introduction of Lachie Henderson into the backline and welcoming Jay Foon back from VFL duties, the Tigers looked like it could genuinely compete against their highly fancied opponents.
Redland-Victoria Point went into the game after a week off following its narrow loss to Broadbeach and with plenty of forward line and midfield power in its artillery, looked set to put in a commanding display against the Tigers.
The first term was a dour struggle with the respective midfield going toe-to-toe with immense physicality. Matt Lee was simply outstanding by winning lots of the contested ball for Labrador, denying the likes of Franks, Brock Aston and Jack Rolls winning lots of the ball.
Josh Brown opened the scoring for the Sharks with a stunning goal at the 10-minute mark of the first term into the breeze to open up a narrow lead. Labrador failed to convert from three chances with the wind, and when spear-head Matt Hammellman found himself in some space against Henderson, the Sharks kicked away to a 10-point lead.
One of the more important kicks of the quarter came from Aiden Fyfe of Labrador who marked on 50, dead in front and confidently kicked truly from 60-metres out.
Redland-Victoria Point led by four-points at quarter time.
Despite the breeze, conditions were ideal but both teams struggled to score. It took a long-range goal at the 14.5-minute mark from Hammellman to open up the flood gates of more frequent scoring for both sides. This sparked a run of five goals across 14-minutes of play when the previous 44-minutes produced just three goals.
Franks kicked a big-time goal in time-on for the home side that opened up a 15-point lead; but a Ned Stevens mark and goal on the half-time siren trimmed the lead to less than two-goals at the break and set the stage for an epic second-half.
When goals were at a premium to start the opening two quarters; the flood gates well and truly opened to start the third. Three goals in six-minutes to the Tigers turned a deficit into a four-point lead.
Not to be denied, Brock Aston kicked a jaw-dropping goal for the Sharks during the Tiger’s surge when a set shot at right-half-forward pushed to the left; the ball coming off hands and Aston sticking out a boot that saw the ball sail through for the most unlikely of goals.
The game produced eight goals in 19-minutes of play but with the momentum firmly in Labrador’s hands.
With Bryce Retzlaff gathering marks and disposals at will for the Tigers, it was up to the likes of captain Scott Miller and Matt Hambleton to try and turn the tide for the Sharks.
The crucial turning point of the game occurred when the ball was kicked deep into Labrador’s forward line and Christian Buykx-Smith was taken out of the contest from close range at the 28.5-minute mark.
The valuable utility calmly slotted through his first goal of the game and didn’t have to wait long for his second as tensions grew in Labrador’s forward line that would see Buykx-Smith awarded another shot on goal from close range to kick two goals in the blink of an eye.
The action didn’t stop there as the heat was firmly dialled up to maximum temperature and Labrador gave away the free kick before the ball reached the centre from the second goal from Bukyx-Smith.
RVP ruckman Jarrod Huddy was awarded a free kick and then a 50-metre penalty due to the action in the Labrador forward line. Huddy had a set shot from 30 metres out to cut the margin back to 17-points. His kick sailed to the left; and from that very moment, the Sharks were never able to regain their touch.
Labrador led by 21-points at three-quarter-time.
RVP missed some golden opportunities to start the final term. Kicking with the wind, it was successful on just one of three shots inside the first 10-minutes.
Labrador on the other hand had no issues in front of goal; kicking three goals into the wind in the space of 4.5-minutes to turn a 13-point lead into a 31-point lead at the 17.5-minute mark of the final term. It was never troubled from that point on; cruising to a 13.9.87 to 8.8.56 win.
Labrador produced an extraordinary turn-around in the space of seven days on the back of a dismal performance against the red-hot Hornets the previous week; and turned the tide with the season’s biggest win that may very well set up its strong run into the finals.
Matt Lee was best afield for the winners while Josh Brown was consistent across all four quarters for the Sharks.
Picture by Queensland Sports Photography