More than a game at Burpengary

By Andrew Wiles – @andrewjwiles

Brisbane and St Kilda headlined Saturdays NAB Challenge match at the Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex, but the day was much bigger than a single game.

It was an opportunity to showcase all levels of football, from community right through to the elite level.

With the sun shining on the last day of summer, a crowd of over 6200 people filled the $13 million dollar AFL precinct on a surface that would rival many AFL grounds.

Female footy kicked off proceedings at 11.45am, with members of the youth girls squad, all in contention to represent Queensland in the national championships later this year, mixed in with the under 21 AFL Queensland Academy Squad.

Despite the hot and blustery conditions the girls weren’t holding back.

The skill level was high in a free flowing display that saw plenty of goals, some quick transition football, and some strong tackles.

There were even a few familiar faces running around, with female AFL exhibition match alumni Emily Bates, Ally Anderson and Tayla Harris all imposing themselves on the contest.

Following on from this was the under 16 Brisbane Lions academy match, where some of the potential future stars of our game impressed in their first proper hit out for the year.

The Moreton Bay Lions and the Redcliffe Tigers took part in their fifth annual Councillors Cup match, as a curtain raiser to the AFL game.

It was the Lions who started the better, leading at the quarter time break 4.5 (29) to the Tigers 0.1 (1)

From here, Moreton Bay was never headed, helped greatly by the contribution of new recruit and clear best on ground, Jacob Huisman.

Huisman, who played the first half of the 2014 season at Sandgate in the QAFL, was electric running through the middle, using his pace to create endless opportunities, before finishing with three goals himself.

In a dominant performance, the Lions ran out 98-point winners, 15.15 (105) to 1.1 (7), and will hold onto the cup for another year.

Headlining the afternoon, Brisbane and St Kilda took to the field in front of a vocal crowd, which included a scattering of red white and black jumpers.

Lions fans got their first look at star recruit Dayne Beams, who finished with 25 possessions, and linked up nicely with the returning Daniel Rich, and 2014 NAB Rising Star Lewis Taylor.

Debutant and Queensland local, Harris Andrews, held his own in the back half, after coming on in the second half as the sub.

Saints fans were given the opportunity to take a close look at 2014 number one draft pick, Paddy McCartin, who showed promising signs and moved well in a difficult day for key forwards, finishing with five marks and a first quarter goal.

The only concern for the day was a hamstring injury to Jack Billings, taken off in the first half.

In the end, it was the Lions who scraped home, 0.7.16 (58) to 0.8.7 (55).

Burpengary was proof that the NAB Challenge is about taking footy out of the big venues, and delivering it to people in their back yards.

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