By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
The opening week of the Senior QAFL Men’s finals delivered two incredible spectacles that will forever be etched in the minds of those who were present to witness them.
Wilston Grange defeated Surfers Paradise by six-points in not what was the game of the season, but one of the greatest finals in the history of the competition.
Broadbeach defeated Palm Beach Currumbin in remarkable fashion to the tune of 95-points in its best win of the 2023 season.
WILSTON GRANGE 16.9.105 defeated SURFERS PARADISE 16.3.99
If a game can fit the cliche of “it had everything” – this one re-wrote that cliche and made it new.
From a surprise big lead; to a remarkable comeback; to a major injury delay (thoughts are with Jack Campbell of Wilston Grange and thrilled that he is making a full recovery), to a big haul of goals, a young star moving positions that turned the game, a blood rule late in the contest and a thrilling result that not one person predicted.
When the question was asked “Will the real Wilston Grange please stand up?” we most certainly saw that on the weekend.
Wilston Grange sprinted to a surprise 35-point lead at quarter-time and led the highly fancied Surfers Paradise 55 to 7 mid-way through the second term at Sir Bruce Small Park.
In his first season as a QAFL player; Lachy Rhook showcased the forward line that he and the world knew he could be with a tremendous presence and proved to be out-right unstoppable, kicking goals from all angles and looked to live up to the hype as being the Man of the Moment.
With Will Martyn running riot through the midfield and Dan Bowles unstoppable between the arcs, Wilston Grange was running hot and playing its best brand of football for the season.
Surfers Paradise made their move, or at least attempted to do so late in the quarter with consecutive goals, only to have Wilston Grange respond in the same fashion almost immediately.
Surfers Paradise finished the quarter strongly to trim the margin down to 38-points heading into half-time.
Nick Williams has been a stand-out junior for Surfers Paradise and while playing a key role with the Allies; was able to play some key roles on some dominant forwards. After playing back-to-back games in the VFL in recent weeks, he returned to the backline for the Demons, but a master-stroke move from coach Matt Lappin had him switched into attack in the second half.
Williams provided an unlikely option up forward but one that tactically proved fruitful. A great reader of the play to stop forwards from getting first use of the ball; it made sense for him to move forward to out-think his opposition defenders.
The Demons came out in the second half 38-points behind but filled with a tremendous amount of confidence that they could peg the lead back.
With Williams looking dangerous up forward, at times, he was the sideshow act as Jalen Curtis, who had kicked 16 goals from his previous 35 Senior games at the Dees had sprung to life. He kicked four goals in a majestical performance as his team clawed back to within 10-points at the final break.
With the momentum running freely for the home-team, a kick inside the forward line for Surfers Paradise with two players colliding while Williams marked for a shot on goal.
The spirit of the game lived wildly through everyone involved as volunteers, officials and first aid responders arrived on the scene immediately to address, support, and act professionally with the incident.
Play was suspended for over 30 minutes with both teams and officials returning to the field to finish what they started, a game for the ages.
Williams kicked truly for the home team to cut the margin back to four-points, but that was as close as they would get for the remainder of the game.
Wilston Grange responded with pure strength and courage to hold firm against quality opposition and proved that they are a genuine threat to the premiership crown with a remarkable 20 minutes to hold on to a famous win by six-points.
For Wilston Grange – Daniel Bowles was outstanding with 32 touches but it was Will Martyn who was the stand-out in the midfield with 28 touches and 12 clearances. Rhook finished with 7.2 from 17 kicks with four marks inside 50 while Zach Westerberg had a day out with 39 hit-outs.
For Surfers Paradise – Ben Woodburn had a blistering second half and finished with 24 touches, 11 clearances, and six inside 50s; Curtis had 13 touches, five tackles and four goals and young gun Nick Williams had 19 touches; three contested marks and kicked three goals.
Wilston Grange led the inside 50s by 14; 56 to 42; had 12 marks inside 50 to four; led the hit-outs 61 to 30; tackle count 53 to 9; clearances 44 to 35 and contested marks 22 to 10.
BROADBEACH 22.12.144 defeated PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN 7.7.49
This was always going to be a tough game for any visiting team with Broadbeach in some remarkable form heading into finals.
Palm Beach Currumbin deserved their place in the top six and worked so hard in the past month to head into the finals with some fine touch.
Broadbeach proved that whether it was going to be a low or high-scoring affair; it was going to take some massive beating. The game was essentially over at quarter time as they slammed home eight goals to one to lead by 42-points at the opening change.
While the other Elimination Final had a similar sort of fate in its early stages, unlike Surfers Paradise, this was going to be too big of an ask for the Lions to overcome.
The Cats kicked three goals to one in the second term to lead by 58-points at the major break.
With the possibility of a second-half resurgence on the cards; the hosts stamped that possibility out with a stunning third term to kick six goals to two and extended their lead to 81-points at the final change.
PBC showed some resilience in the final quarter, having six scoring shots after only having eight for the previous three quarters as Broadbeach ran away winners by 95-points and kicking their highest score for the season.
For Broadbeach – former Labrador and Southport star Tom Reeves enjoyed a break-out performance with 6.0 from 15 kicks. Reeves had kicked 13 goals from 14 games prior to this game and kicked 16 goals from 37 games in Queensland since crossing from Tasmania at the end of 2020, highlighting just how big of an effort this was.
Leo Lombard responded well after his debut in the VFL with the SUNS by registering 23 touches and having a game-high seven inside 40s. Cody Harrington kicked four goals and Sam Jasper kicked three. Taine Dawson enjoyed 26 hit-outs and seven clearances.
For Palm Beach Currumbin – young gun Dylan Patterson was simply sensational with 24 touches; three intercept marks; four clearances; five tackles and six inside 50s to go alongside a goal in a remarkable effort from an Under 17s player. Tom Thynne enjoyed 26 touches; 10 clearances and five inside 50s. Chimobim Anyanwu had his best game as a Lion with a blistering 45 hit-outs and three tackles.
Broadbeach led the disposal count 362 to 282; inside 50 count by 17 (53 to 36); marks inside 50 by 9; and clearance count 44 to 31. PBC led the hit-out count 52 to 36.
Broadbeach will host Wilston Grange in an elimination Semi Final this Saturday.
PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN 11.15.81 defeated MT GRAVATT 8.4.52
PBC entered the contest as one of the form teams of the competition and at the end of the game; there was enough evidence to back that up.
Mt Gravatt put the challenge out to the Lions and for three quarters showed that they had what it took to take down the highly fancied Lions.
The Vultures stormed clear to a strong start in the opening term with four goals to lead by 20-points.
An inaccurate Lions in the second term proved costly, kicking 2.5 to 1.0, closing the gap to nine-points at the main break.
The third quarter was make or break for the visiting Vultures and it was most certainly make as they withstood the barrage of the Lions, outscoring them by a point to extend the lead to 10-points. The Lions again, kicked 2.5 for the quarter; 5.10 in the middle quarters.
With the game firmly in the balance and up for grabs, PBC put their kicking boots on in the final term, kicking a staggering six goals to nil to come from 10-points down and stormed away to a 29-point win.
If the Vultures kept the winning score to 10 goals or less, they were a big chance to win heading into the game. The Lions finished with 11 and had to come from behind to get the job done; thus highlighting how serious of a chance the Vultures had.
For PBC, Ethan Dawson kicked three goals; Alex Fry showcased why he deserved a chance at Senior level in recent weeks by putting on a best-on-ground performance and Cam Poharama kicked two goals to take his tally to 39 from 17 games this season.
For Mt Gravatt, Kyah Moncur achieved a rare stat where he kicked two goals against PBC one weekend at Senior level and followed it up with two goals against PBC in the Reserves the very next week. Jayden Milne and Henry Brent impressed.
MORNINGSIDE 12.13.85 defeated MAROOCHYDORE 7.6.48
In a contest that was, on paper expected to go the distance, didn’t live up to the hype as Morningside sent a clear message to the rest of the competition with a remarkable 37-point victory.
Perhaps on form, the Roos were expected to be slight odds-on favourites but it was the Panthers that bounced from the opening bounce to establish clear dominance.
Morningside missed some crucial chances in front of goal in the opening stanza; kicking 1.6 to hold a five-point lead. Kicking in front of goal wasn’t an issue in the second term as they kicked 4.1 to 2.3 to lead by 15-points at the main break.
Maroochydore showcased tremendous desperation to start the third term but was hit by a tsunami from Morningside with four goals to open up a 28-point lead heading into the final change.
The margin was too great for the Roos to bounce back as the Panthers showcased their pure class with three goals to two and sealed a famous six-goal win.
For Morningside: Shaq McLeod kicked three goals in his first final in the sport, Ethen Pinchen kicked three goals in what was the sixth time this year he kicked multiple goals in a game, and Kai Purslow was outstanding.
For Maroochydore: Harrison Kerry kicked five goals to take his season tally to 41 in the competition, while Blake Ryan and James Puschmann played well.
Palm Beach Currumbin takes on Morningside at Subaru Oval in Broadbeach on Saturday in an elimination Semi Final.
BROADBEACH 13.13.91 defeated ASPLEY 3.5.23
The Cats made a stance to the rest of the competition with a commanding victory over the Hornets.
The opening term played a key role in determining the result of the game with Broadbeach kicking 3.5 to nothing to lead by 28-points; a lead that was extended to 38-points at the main break with they kicked four goals to two.
Aspley showed some strong resilience in the third term to prevent the margin from getting greater by restricting Broadbeach to one goal; but it proved to no avail in the final term as Broadbeach kicked five-answered goals in the final term to secure a 68-point win.
For Broadbeach: Gold Coast Under 16s and 18s Academy product Max Hudson was outstanding; Will Cooper kicked three goals (made his Senior debut earlier this year) and Charlie Corke had a break-out performance with three goals.
For Aspley: Under 17s stars Francis Quinn, Jake Pitcher, Milo Presland-Tack and Lachlan O’Dwyer all had impressive performances.
WILSTON GRANGE 7.14.56 defeated SHERWOOD 1.4.10
Wilston Grange advanced to the next stage of the finals series with an impressive 46-point win over Sherwood.
Neither team could buy a goal in the first term with the Gorillas kicking four points to one. The Gorillas made the most of their four scoring shots in the second term with 3.1 to open up a 20-point half-time lead.
Angus Parnell was able to break through for Sherwood’s first goal of the game in the third term but it was Wilston Grange who continued their dominance with three goals of its own to lead by six goals heading into the final term.
With the result almost locked away, the Gorillas continued the scoreboard pressure in the final term with 1.5 to 0.1 to win by 46-points.
For Wilston Grange: Ethan Keramidopoulos was outstanding and kicked two goals; Under 17s star Bailey Morgan was a force with two goals while Maverick Garaicoa impressed.
For Sherwood: first-year player Jack Gersekowski was impressive while James Preston and Julian Cruice trid hard.
Broadbeach host Wilston Grange in an elimination Semi Final; much like its Senior counterparts.
Photo by Highflyer Images