Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
If we thought that Round 15 of the QAFL Senior Men’s competition was full of surprises, check out this weekend that should provide the most appetising round of football in the competition this season to date.
Morningside is playing for its season against a Noosa team fresh off a major win over Labrador; Mt Gravatt is coming off the upset of the season when it toppled Broadbeach, the third most in-form team of the competition and it faces Redland Victoria Point who are in fine form; Sherwood is looking to make it back-to-back wins as it takes on Labrador who were shell-shocked in the second half against Noosa; Broadbeach faces its biggest test of the season when it plays host to Aspley in a secondary re-match of the 2022 decider with the first going to a draw; Maroochydore is in the box seat to threaten and derail the run of Surfers Paradise who is the smoking gun of the competition; while both Wilston Grange and Palm Beach Currumbin suffered tough losses last week and by no-means guaranteed a place in the top six.
Six massive games and each of them could produce different results according to expectations; can you feel finals football coming early?
MORNINGSIDE v NOOSA
Key ins – Mitch Robinson, Kelly Castle, Jay Moroney (Senior debut), Wylie Buzza (VFL bye), Wilson Barry (VFL bye)
Key outs – Ryan Cole, Shaq McLeod, Harry Taylor, Cam Macqueen, Charlie Cole
The Panthers have made five changes to the team, welcoming the return of four big guns, highlighted by Mitch Robinson from a leg injury. Kelly Castle returns to add some poise in the midfield, Buzza and Barry return with the Brisbane Lions having a bye in the VFL while Jay Moroney makes his Senior debut.
Key ins – Kurtis Evenden
Key outs – Aaron Laskey
Noosa’s captain Aaron Laskey comes out of the team and is replaced by Kurtis Evenden
Morningside let a golden opportunity slip last week against Sherwood where victory could very well have had it sitting in the top six for the first time in a number of weeks. Results for teams now fifth to 11th count for so much and percentage is going to play a key part in proceedings too.
Sherwood was hungry last week, and Morningside knew it would have to play to its full potential. There was a lot to like, especially with Brad Hodge in the ruck, and the dual-pronged forward line of McLeod and Downie, it does work, and it will continue to work. This group has to bounce back because the fate of its finals aspirations is firmly in its hands.
Noosa plays an attacking brand of football that on its day makes it one of the must-see acts in the QAFL, and while we witnessed a remarkable effort from this group last week, it still wasn’t its best effort with so much potential still to come out.
This Noosa side is capable of pushing the best in the competition and turning the tables on those in the bottom half of the ladder above them. This will be a tough task for this group on the road to the Panthers, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if it comes away with the win.
The pair last met in Round 3 when the Panthers had a big win on the road but that came at a period when they were looking dangerous and threatening to be the next big break away team this season and make a statement in the top four after a challenging few seasons. Noosa is arguably better.
With so much riding on the line for the Panthers, this is now or never – and with the Cats, Sharks and Demons awaiting them in the final three weeks, they need to get a few key wins on the board now to grow that confidence to beat those teams.
The fact that the Panthers have the return of three VFL stars and Mitch Robinson definitely adds incredible strength to this team but the pick of the bunch of the returns is Kelly Castle who is extremely underrated. Noosa losing its captain Aaron Laskey does hurt. Could we see the turn of the tide for the Panthers?
REDLAND VICTORIA POINT v MT GRAVATT
Redland Victoria Point
Key ins – Jack Rolls, Damian Steven
Key outs – Matt Thomson, Tajuan Bromwich
Thomson and Bromwich come out while Jack Rolls and Damian Steven return to add some extra strength through the midfield.
Key ins – Taj Moncur
Key outs – Gavin Grose
Gavin Grose comes out of the team for the Vultures that had the big win over the Cats last week while Taj Moncur slots into the backline as his replacement.
“New coach? No worries,” said Mt Gravatt as it had its biggest win of the season and honoured club legend Tony Lynn in style with his fingerprints all over the blueprint of the club’s biggest win of the season. While the Vultures have a new leader, this potential is greater than what results have shown for this group, and it should come to the surprise of no-one that there is some genuine talent in the ranks.
Joely Leahy is one of the most underrated players in the competition and he won’t get mentioned in the same breath as elite midfielders Brock Aston, Will Fletcher, Caleb Franks, Blake Erickson, Brandon Batchelor and Josh Govan (to name a few), but when you watch him in action, he is often one step ahead of his opponent and reads the play extremely well. He had a big day against the Cats last week and his efforts lift those around him.
Redland Victoria Point have the best forward line in the competition and that’s been the case for the past few seasons. Matt Hammelman and Josh Brown make it near impossible for opposition teams to shut down their impact and with a commanding midfield and swift movement from the half back line, the supply and demand will go 1:1 as they’re both just so good.
This is a game that the Sharks should win but with the Vultures putting on an incredible performance last week and knocking on the front door, they should put on a bold performance. The backline will be tested but they do have two strong ruck options that will cause some headaches for the Shark midfielders.
AFL caller Jason Bennett raised on Twitter this week just how impactful are hit-outs as opposed to clearances. The Sharks have a strong midfield that dominates clearances and so it’s up to the Vulture midfield to get first hands off the ruck.
This will be a good contest with the Vultures competing hard against the highly fancied Sharks.
LABRADOR v SHERWOOD
Key ins – Jayden Young, Jack Hammond, Harry Sullivan (debut)
Key outs – Matt Cecchin, Luke Coombes, Jed Riddle
Harry Sullivan makes his debut. He has come through the Colts system and has played a number of games for the Gold Coast Academy and Sandringham Dragons in the Coates Talent League. Jayden Young is a welcome return but miss Matt Cecchin and Luke Coombes, while Jed Riddle is an emergency.
Key ins – Owen Collins (VFL), Riley Greene (inj.), Bruce Reville (VFL), Sean Ryan, Tom Gillett (Senior debut), Elijah Glass (VFL).
Key outs – Deng Arok, Riley Easton, Xavier Knight, Ethan Harris, Jonty MacDougall, Morgan Smith
Tom Gillett makes his Senior debut after coming through the Colts and junior system at the club. He has played five games this year from the Brisbane Lions Academy for the Coates Talent League. Riley Greene makes his long awaited return from injury; while Collins, Reville and Glass come back from the Brisbaine Lions VFL team who have the bye.
Has Charlton Offermans put himself in the mix as a contender for the Grogan Medal? One of Labrador’s prime movers, Offermans enjoyed a day out against Noosa’s midfield with 45 disposals and three goals in the best individual performance of any player on the weekend – by a long stretch.
Offermans has embraced the opportunity to have a greater impact at Labrador this year, earning himself a recent call-up to the VFL and one of three players in the team to make their VFL debut for the Sharks this year.
Labrador was outgunned in the second half last week with a red-hot Noosa outfit but the inclusions of Young and Hammond will help its cause.
Sherwood benefits from the Brisbane Lions having the bye in the VFL with Collins, Glass and Reville all returning for the week. If we thought this Sherwood team looked good last week, it will be far greater this week with massive inclusions that will boost the quality and depth like it hasn’t experienced this year.
Riley Greene returning from injury is massive, and he has VFL experience with the Brisbane Lions, essentially coming in as a new recruit.
If Sherwood fans were optimistic against Morningside last week, there is no doubt that it should be equally optimistic this week.
Labrador has a lot of VFL listed players in its team from the Gold Coast and Sherwood also has just as many from Brisbane. While both teams haven’t lived up to the expectations this year, there is so much talent filtered through both line-ups making this a must-see clash for QAFL supporters.
Labrador needs to win this in order to keep ahead of the pack in the race for the top six, but Sherwood could just pull out another incredible effort.
BROADBEACH v ASPLEY
Key ins – Kwaby Boakye, Jonah Semmler, Jared Eckersley Adam Hull, Nick Jasper (Senior debut)
Key outs – Jye Lockett (ankle), Max Masters (leg), Rhys Finn, Josh Zanker-Close, Joel Fiippone
The Cats have five changes from the team that lost to Mt Gravatt last week with Kwaby Boakye returning alongside Jonah Semmler and Adam Hull; Jared Eckersley returns from the Gold Coast VFL team (kicked a goal) while Nick Jasper (brother of Sam) makes his Senior club debut. Nick played for Kalkee in the Horsham District Football Netball League Grand Final last year that unfortunately went down to Rupanyup by six goals (both Sam and Nick played in Grand Finals last year).
Key ins – Tom Templeton, Lachlan Sherwood
Key outs – Matt Payne, Mason O’Sullivan
The Hornets welcome back Tom Templeton while Lachlan Sherwood returns for his first game of the season.
This is the second time that the 2022 Grand Finalists meet in season 2023 and as it stands, there is nothing separating the pair on the back of a thrilling draw in the season opener at Aspley.
Broadbeach will be desperate to atone for the loss to Mt Gravatt on the road last weekend after being highly fancied to take the four points and continue its impressive run across the season. The team welcome back some great talent headlined by Boakye who will provide tremendous run across half-back.
Josh Searl will be the man of the moment in this game as he runs out for game 200 for the Cats. The premiership captain and one of the true legends of the QAFL will be a key driving factor in the Cats’ pursuit of taking the four points. Losing Jye Lockett up forward does hurt but the additions of Eckersley and Semmler are big pluses; especially with Eckersley who put on a good showing for Gold Coast in the VFL last week.
Aspley hasn’t put a foot wrong in 2023. After the draw in the season opener, it has beaten everyone put in front of it and in some impressive outings. Last week it kicked away late in the final term against the Roos in a game that it probably needed, especially as the under-dog opponents threw everything at them and yet still kicked away to secure a win.
Tom Templeton is a big return for the team, and while Mason O’Sullivan steps out, there were plenty of positives shown from him as the team covers the loss of Liam Dawson down back with a long-term injury.
It’s so challenging to ever tip against Aspley because, like Broadbeach last year, has not put a foot wrong during the home and away season. This will be an exciting game and with little separating the teams, again. It won’t be high-scoring, and will be a strong battle of the backlines.
MAROOCHYDORE v SURFERS PARADISE
Key ins – Bradley McDonald
Key outs – Ben Kethro
Just the one change for the Roos with Brad McDonald coming in for Ben Kethro. Brad has played VFL with the Brisbane Lions this year.
Key ins – Jayme Rekers, Monte Ruff (Senior debut)
Key outs – Joel Foster, Jack Prestegar
Monte Ruff makes his Senior debut for the club after playing the season in the Reserves and crossing from the Nightcliff Tigers in the NT. Jack Prestegar is a big out.
Maroochydore faces the non-negotiable task of securing the four points against the red-hot Demons. After a bold showing last week, it must continue that sort of form in this contest.
The issue with the Roos is that it has challenged the top teams in the competition like so few have across the season but generally fall short. While it’s good to compete, it just needs that believe to finish games strongly and win; and the talent is there to do it.
Surfers Paradise continues to do everything right and it is of no surprise to see it soar to fourth position on the ladder. The return of Rekers and the debut of Ruff adds more strength to this team, but the absence of Jake Prestegar hurts.
Its performance last week against the Gorillas was nothing short of sensational and the club is hoping to keep the service of Byron Finch for a bit longer so that he isn’t lost to Southport in the VFL with his outstanding performances. Finch, alongside Woodburn are just so good for this team.
Maroochydore must win and it’s a reality, that it can win games like this because it simply plays well against the best teams in the competition, almost better than the best do against themselves. Surfers Paradise is a genuine top four team and is firming as that team that could account for the three above it. This will be a quality game.
WILSTON GRANGE v PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN
Key ins – Jhye Hartung (Senior debut), Joel Budarick (VFL), Bailey Gordon (VFL), Lachlan Rhook (inj), Jack Manly
Key outs – Hugo Thew, Patrick Snell, Samuel Pettigrew, Zach Westerberg, Harry Wilson
Hartung makes his Senior debut after crossing from St Mary’s in the NTFL. Budarick and Gordon return from the Lions who have the bye in the VFL while Lachy Rhook makes his long-awaited return from injury. Losing Zach Westerberg is massive for the team.
Palm Beach Currumbin
Key ins – Hugh Munro, Corey Joyce (VFL), Ky Molony
Key outs – Jack Granville, Christian Buykx-Smith, Haydn Kiel
Wilston Grange didn’t live up to expectations last week and with a team so rich with talent, speed and potential, coach Moloney and the team know what its expectations are. This is a proud club and one that can produce such quality football, but the reality is while it’s still two games inside the top six; could still miss finals.
The inclusions of Budarick and Gordon will be invaluable and Rhook up forward is a treat for the team. Rhook and Fidler have hardly played together this year, if at all and if both get off the leash, they will cause chaos.
The Lions had a tough day against the Sharks last week and it was going to be a tough ask for any backline to shut down the duo of Hammelmann and Brown, let alone them. They’ll reset during the week and embrace the return of Corey Joyce into the midfield to provide much-needed drive from the centre after a solid run in the VFL.
Christian Buykx-Smith will be a tough loss to cover which means that the team need to rely on its smaller forwards to get the job done.
The result of this contest will purely depend on which Wilston Grange team shows up, because at its best, it wins; and same can be said for PBC who have at times, been hit-and-miss. This will be a fascinating game.