By Chris “Yeendy” Yeend
Round 15 of the QAFL Senior Men’s competition produced a stunning weekend of matches that turned the entire competition on its head.
Sherwood has cracked through for its maiden win of the 2023 season with a spirited two-point win over Morningside; Mt Gravatt responded to the change of coaching personnel in the bye weekend with a remarkable win over Broadbeach in one of the wins of the season; Noosa upstaged a star-studded Labrador outfit again; Aspley endured a tough battle against Maroochydore; Redland Victoria Point put on a quality performance with a 59-point win over Palm Beach Currumbin; while Surfers Paradise made a statement in a massive win against Wilston Grange.
SHERWOOD 8.7.55 defeated MORNINGSIDE 7.11.53
After leading by two kicks at the first break; the Pies conceded four unanswered goals as the Panthers sprung into full attack with nine scoring shots to two.
Morningside turned an 11-point deficit into a 16-point half-time lead, as they looked to keep their finals hopes well and truly alive and over-turn a mid-season slump.
The third term was tight with the gap closed to 10-points.
The final term was intense with lots of contested possession and pure grit and determination from two proud clubs.
With the ball tucked deep inside the forward line at the 23-minute mark; Connor Bulley was awarded a free kick and a 50-metre penalty from a stoppage to put the Pies in front by two-points. Bulley kicked his fifth goal of the game from 50 metres out just minutes later to extend the lead to eight-points.
Shaq McLeod kicked his second from a tight snap just moments later to cut the margin back to just two points at the 27-minute mark. With seconds ticking down; Lachlan Niland-Rowe speared the ball inside the forward line only for the intercept mark to be taken by the team leader and club legend Will Fletcher. The siren sounded just moments later with the ball in his hand to cap off the perfect fairytale finish.
It was fitting that Fletcher took the game-saving mark that secured the club’s maiden win of the season as he opted to commit to the Pies full-time in season 2023 and not play for the Lions in the VFL. His hard-work and commitment to the club, made the moment just perfect.
Fletcher led the game in disposals with 30 touches including 23 that were contested; 14 clearances and five inside 50s; three intercept marks (including the most important one at the end) in a pure superman-like effort.
After kicking three goals against the Sharks; Bulley stepped up with five goals from seven kicks, his best effort at Senior level.
Adam Peak and Shaq McLeod each kicked two goals; Cam Macqueen was outstanding with eight tackles; while Brad Hodge was ruthless in the ruck with 18 disposals and 49 hit-outs.
Both teams battled hard with inside 50s; the Panthers winning the count by three (45-42); the Pies won the clearances by 19 (42-23) but the marks inside 50 proved to be a key winner with the Pies taking 10 to five.
Sherwood will celebrate its maiden win for a while to come; while Morningside will know a big chance has slipped by but with results somewhat falling in their favour; there is still time to mount a launch into the top six. In fact, had Morningside won by about five goals; they would have jumped into the top six; but now sits in 9th position.
MT GRAVATT 14.10.94 defeated BROADBEACH 13.14.92
A change of coach mid-season has turned into a blessing for Mt Gravatt in one of the wins of the season. The club was so incredibly fortunate to have such a passionate, dedicated and hardworking coach in Queensland legend Tony Lynn who inspired the next wave of talent through the team and provided the perfect platform for new coach Andy Flower to take over the reins for the end of the season.
With Broadbeach perhaps the second-best in-form team in the competition, and with a line-up loaded with in-form VFL talent including Riley Bowman, they were going to be very tough to beat regardless of the opposition.
The first quarter was a classic with both teams trading heavy blows on the scoreboard and the Cats edging out to a 12-point lead. It was perhaps a missed opportunity for the visiting team who kicked 5.7 for the quarter and could have created more separation from the Vultures at the first break.
With both teams settled after a frenetic opening term, the second quarter became more physical and both teams showcased tremendous grit and determination. The lead expanded to just 13-points at the main break.
The third term has always been referred to as ‘the premiership quarter’ – often being the match-winning period of the game and this was no exception. The Vultures swooped at major opportunities and sent home 6.1 to turn a 13-point deficit into a three-point lead.
The final term was gut-wrenching; super intense and had the feel of the final bout in Rocky 2 with the underdog looking a big chance and going toe-to-toe with such a formidable opponent. The ending of that bout was incredible as was the finish to this game as Mt Gravatt climbed off the canvas; survived the 10-count and secured the most unlikely of victories in one of its best wins in quite some time.
With 30 seconds remaining on the clock; Mt Gravatt led by a point; Broadbeach surged forward one last time and Daine Macdonald took a game-saving mark to be the hero of the game. The ball would eventually go down the line and to Harry Milford who marked before the siren (and kicked a point) as the club celebrated a famous win.
Broadbeach led the inside 50 count 68 to 47 and both teams combined for a staggering 31 marks inside 50.
Joel Leahy was outstanding for the Vultures with 26 touches and a staggering 10 clearances and 10 inside 50s and finished with a goal. Zac Young, Braydon O’Dea, Dylan Smith, Harry Milford and Jonah Licht all kicked multiple goals.
For Broadbeach, Riley Bowman was a monster with 30 touches; 12 clearances; three inside 50s and a goal to go with 44 hit-outs. Tom Reeves was elite up forward with four goals while young gun and Allies-listed player Leonardo Lombard had 27 touches and 11 inside 50s in a dream performance.
NOOSA 17.11.113 defeated LABRADOR 10.14.74
The Northern Tigers have made it two-from-two in its battle against the Southern Tigers as Noosa saluted to its fourth win of the season and second against its fellow Tiger outfit.
Labrador had a relatively full-strength team with Lachy Henderson, Harry Law, Charlton Offermans, Cooper Anderson, Campbell Lake and Will Derrington in their team to join Tom Simpson, Matt Lee, Matt Cecchin and Darcy McEldrew who have been in remarkable touch this season.
The pair previously met in Round 8 and Noosa stormed home in the final term with nine goals to win that contest by 45-points.
On Saturday Labrador burst out of the blocks with four goals to one in the opening term to lead by 23-points at the opening change. Labrador had their chances in the second term but couldn’t quite put the results on the scoreboard, kicking 3.6 as opposed to 5.1 from Noosa. The lead was trimmed down to 16-points at the main break.
Noosa came out after the half-time break with all guns blazing, hitting the scoreboard 11 times to one and similar to their opponents in the first half, couldn’t quite put the result on the scoreboard with 5.6 for the quarter.
Noosa continued its run in the final term where they converted a 14-point, three-quarter-time lead into a 39-point win with six goals to two in the final term in a mesmerising performance that provided glimpses of just how good this group can be, almost teasing the fans of their potential.
Labrador knows that they are still firmly in the mix and capable of bouncing back, especially with such a quality and developing line-up.
Noosa led the finish 50 count 57 to 47 and in another outstanding display of inside 50 marking, eclipsed Mt Gravatt/Broadbeach with a staggering 38 marks inside 50 between them. Both teams recorded high disposal counts (388 – 363) with Noosa winning the clearances by five, 37 to 32.
For Noosa, running backman Riley Buntain pressed forward and kicked a game-high four goals; Seb Rogers was outstanding with 34 touches and 11 inside 50s and milestone man Jai Fitzpatrick had 28 touches.
For Labrador, Charlton Offermans enjoyed his best performance of the season with 45 touches and seven inside 50s, while Tom Simpson was outstanding with 41 touches and 10 inside 50s.
REDLAND VICTORIA POINT 20.12.132 defeated PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN 11.7.73
The Sharks made a massive statement on the road on Saturday when they saluted to a commanding 59-point over the Lions.
This was a performance that showcased just how strong this outfit is and how they are difficult to beat.
RVP stormed ahead to a 38-point quarter-time lead with seven goals to one; and took it to another level in the second term with six unanswered goals to lead by 76-points. It was about 60 minutes of pure-bliss if you were a Sharks fan.
The Lions responded with pride in the third term with seven goals, while the Sharks added four, before the pair traded goals in the final term to round out the 59-point result.
RVP led the disposal count by 70, inside 50s by 18 and marks inside 50 by eight. They also won the clearance count by 10. The Lions fought hard to lead the tackle count and won the contested marks 15 to 3 in a powerful effort to coincide with winning the contested possession count by 27.
Matt Hammelmann kicked seven goals and Josh Brown kicked five. The pair continue to be the two shining lights up forward as the ultimate tag-team in the forward line and combined for 13 marks inside 50. How as a defending team, can anyone stop this?
Brock Aston and Caleb Franks combined for 74 touches.
Ben McInneny kicked three goals and took five of his nine marks inside 50. Jed Harrison, Marcus White and Finn Hay also kicked two goals. Captain Tom Thynne had 30 touches.
SURFERS PARADISE 14.19.103 defeated WILSTON GRANGE 2.12.24
In one of the most stunning results of the weekend; Surfers Paradise continued their red-hot form with a jaw-dropping 79-point win over fourth-placed Wilston Grange.
This game was expected to be one of the best of the weekend; especially considering just how much both had improved across the season.
Just 10-points separated the pair at quarter-time before the Dees recorded 13 scoring shots to two (6.7 to 1.1) to lead by 46-points at the main break.
Both teams found goal-scoring challenging in the third term with the Demons putting through 2.6 and the Gorillas 0.5 and in the final term the trend continued with the Demons adding 4.6 to 0.4.
Surfers Paradise put home 5.12 to 0.9 in the second half and the Gorillas recorded their lowest score of the season with 2.12.24 (previous was 7.3.45 v Aspley in Round 4).
Surfers Paradise led the disposal count by 80 and marks inside 50 by 10 (17 to 7) but narrowly led the inside 50 count 50 to 39 but scoring goals in one of 3.5 attempts as opposed to almost one in 20 attempts.
Byron Finch kicked four goals for the Demons with backman Brodie Haberfield recording 28 touches. Harrison Fraser impressed with 18 touches and eight inside 50s.
Hugh Fidler had 19 touches and kicked the only two goals for the Gorillas; while Dan Bowles had 36 touches and 10 inside 50s; and Will Martyn had 25 touches.
ASPLEY 13.17.95 defeated MAROOCHYDORE 10.11.71
It was expected that with Maroochydore’s impressive run of form in the bottom half of the ladder they would challenge the reigning premiers – they delivered on all expectations.
With one point separating the two sides at the mid-way mark of the final term; Aspley kicked away to win a tough contest by 24-points.
The result is a strong one for both teams as Aspley have proven that when games get close; they can close them out and still win; while Maroochydore have proven they can run and compete with the best in the competition; and it will be up to this group to see if they can cause a tidal wave in the back half of the season to make finals.
Aspley led the possession count by 56 and inside 50 count by 11 (59 to 48). Maroochydore led the clearances by seven; hit-outs by four and tackles by 12. As expected, Aspley led the intercept marks with 19 to six.
For Aspley – Will Peppin and State League captain Brandon Batchelor each kicked three goals; Michael Best recorded seven inside 50s while on his return to the team, Matt Payne laid five tackles and gathered 18 touches.
For Maroochydore – Sam McLaughlin kicked three goals and Lachy Robinson kicked two. Josh Wagner was again outstanding with 32 touches while Michael Palmer kicked a goal on debut.
1 – ASPLEY (50 – 219.22%)
2 – RVP (44 – 166.99%)
3 – BROADBEACH (34 – 130.97%)
4 – SURFERS PARADISE (32 – 116.99%)
5 – WILSTON GRANGE (32 – 103.49%)
6 – PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN (24 – 80.84)
7 – Mt Gravatt (20 – 86.97%)
8 – Labrador (20 – 82.45%)
9 – Morningside (20 – 78.71)
10 – Maroochydore (16 – 97.64%)
11 – Noosa (16 – 77.67%)
12 – Sherwood (4 – 53.35%)