By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
The QAFL Senior Men’s competition took another drastic turn in the run to the 2023 Finals in Round 19 action on Saturday.
With three games taking place in the final split round of the season; Labrador upstaged Aspley on their home turf by 19-points; Surfers Paradise outlasted a determined Morningside by one-point and Maroochydore stormed home in the final term to topple Palm Beach Currumbin by 13-points.
The results of the games on the weekend now mean that Redland Victoria Point is a genuine chance to take out the minor premiership; Maroochydore is still a slight chance to make finals from ninth position; Morningside could miss finals after being in sixth position in the lead up to the round; and despite losing to the Roos; Palm Beach Currumbin is perhaps still odds-on-favourite to make finals with its upcoming draw and the draws of those teams around it.
LABRADOR 12.3.75 defeated ASPLEY 7.14.56
The Southern Tigers put the rest of the competition on notice with a remarkable performance to take down reigning premiers Aspley at home.
The opening term was a goal-fest with both teams trading goals with four a-piece. The Hornets led the game by five-points on the back of 4.5; with the accuracy in front of goal coming back to haunt them across the game.
Labrador was without Darcy McEldrew in the ruck but their midfield was sharp at ground level and taking the game on against the highly-fancied Aspley midfielders. Caleb Back was sharp; Cade Gregory was tough; Campbell Lake was nothing short of sensational and Cooper Anderson continued his dominating season with a ruthless performance in the midfield.
Labrador was exceptional in front of goal in the second term with a stunning effort from Caleb Back to turn the tide in its favour.
Aspley missed a few key chances; especially from Tom Watson in the second term as Labrador held a 12-point lead into the main break.
The third term was tight and intense. Dan Joseph ran hard off half-back and across the wing for the Hornets while Tom Templeton toiled hard in the midfield. Their supply up forward was rushed with Josh Young shutting Connor Stackleberg (1 goal) out of the contest. Michael Best did at times provide some resistance at half-forward.
Labrador led by 10-points heading into the final change.
Luke Coombes caught fire in the second half and finished the game with four match-winning goals for Labrador as they pushed away with four goals to two in the final term to seal a 19-point win. Harry Law and Lachlan Henderson each kicked three for the winners. Tom Watson kicked two for the Hornets. Returning Liam Dawson pushed forward from the backline to also kick two goals, including the final one of the game.
Labrador showed tremendous attack and aggression at the ball and a level of intensity that would make them a genuine threat to the rest of the competition come finals if they rise to that mark.
Aspley led the Inside 50 count by 29; 56 to 27; took 16 marks inside 50 to 11; dominated the hit-outs by 56 – 80 to 24. Labrador led the disposal count by 95 – 347 to 252 and the tackle count by 44 – 80 to 36. Additionally, they led the marks by 40 – 115 to 75 which further showed their intensity right across the ground.
Matt Cecchun led the disposal count for Labrador with 37 while Tom Templeton led the disposal count for Aspley with 31 and recorded a staggering 15 clearances. Will Wolbers had 67 hit-outs.
SURFERS PARADISE 13.14.92 defeated MORNINGSIDE 13.13.91
In one of the must-see matches of the season; Surfers Paradise held on to a fast-finishing Morningside to record a thrilling one-point win.
Both teams were stacked with talent as Morningside welcomed back Wylie Buzza and Wilson Barry from the VFL while VFL listed Jamison Shea, Byron Finch and Marlin Corbett lined up for Surfers Paradise.
Alex Mitchell came in off the emergency list for the Matt Lappin-led Demons and he would prove to be a vital cog in the forward line set-up.
The first quarter was what would have been expected, lots of goals and excitement. The Panthers fired up the home crowd with five goals to take a five-point lead into the opening change, 33 to 28.
Some wayward kicking by the Panthers in the second term proved costly as the Demons hit the scoreboard hard; doubling their quarter-time score with 4.4 to open up a seven-point half-time lead.
Morningside roared back into the contest with lots of momentum from their midfield and tremendous presence up forward from Keegan Downie and Buzza as they kicked four goals against a Surfers Paradise team that was also wayward in front of goal, to lead by three-points.
With a grand-stand finish predicted for the last quarter; every moment was going to be crucial for both teams.
Just two points separated the teams as the clock hit 20-minutes. Insert co-captain Harrison Fraser who was on the receiving end of a lovely handball from a contested situation 50 metres out and pulled the trigger on the run from 45 to put his team up by eight-points.
Ryan Dadds received a free-kick at centre half forward just two minutes later for the Panthers with his kick sailing to the left from 48-metres out.
With the clock ticking to 25-minutes; Daniel Frame gathered a clearing kick for the Panthers; he spotted up Mitch Robinson 65 metres out, who in-turn put the ball into space beautifully for Downie to lead to and mark. He kicked truly.
With seconds left on the clock, Morningside sent the ball forward and couldn’t pounce on the loose ball quick enough as the siren sounded to declare Surfers Paradise winners by a solitary point.
Morningside led the disposal count by 18; tackle count by four; clearances by eight; hit-outs by 21 and inside 50s by 11 (54-43) but Surfers Paradise managed to hold on.
For Surfers Paradise – Marlin Corbett had 24 touches; major draft prospect Nick Williams had 16 touches and five intercept marks while Alex Mitchell came into the team and kicked 3.3 from nine kicks and took four marks inside 50.
For Morningside – Cedric Cox had 27 touches and a game-high eight intercept marks; Mitch Robinson had 29 touches and 15 inside 50s while Wylie Buzza kicked 4.4 from 12 kicks and took five contested marks.
MAROOCHYDORE 9.13.67 defeated PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN 7.12.54
The Roos kept their finals chance alive with a thrilling come-from-behind win over PBC to the tune of 13-points.
The Roos were wasteful in front of goal in the first term with 2.6 to hold an 11-point lead.
PBC responded in the second term with four goals to surge ahead by eight-points.
Windy conditions made play very challenging; causing chaos for both teams. PBC held firm in the third term with two goals and led by 20-points approaching time-on.
Maroochydore clicked into gear with the next three goals of the quarter including two very deep into time-on to close the margin to three-points heading into the final term.
The home team put their foot down in the final quarter kicking 3.3 to 0.5 to win by 13-points in a remarkable finish where they kicked the final six goals of the game.
Disposal efficiency from either side was always going to be tough in windy conditions with Maroochydore leading that stat 64-percent to 57-percent.
They led the hit-outs 67 to 43 and inside 50 count 54 to 50 while PBC had more marks inside 50 (12 to 8) and won the clearance count by three.
Sam McLachlan was best afield with 34 touches and six clearances to go with three goals for Maroochydore. Ben Thomas was also handy with 32 touches, six clearances, seven inside 50s and two goals – including a big one in the final term.
For PBC – Tyler Cornish played arguably his best game of the season with 29 touches and five tackles. Carl Nicholson was rock-solid up forward with four goals and Corey Joyce impressed across halfback with 33 touches.
1 – ASPLEY (54 – 183.22%)
2 – RVP (52 – 165.03%)
3 – BROADBEACH (46 – 138.06%)
4 – SURFERS PARADISE (44 – 123.65%)
5 – WILSTON GRANGE (36 – 101.78%)
6 – LABRADOR (30 – 90.00%)
7 – Morningside (28 – 89.11)
8 – Palm Beach Currumbin (26 – 79.39)
9 – Maroochydore (24 – 100.08%)
10 – Mt Gravatt (20 – 80.99%)
11 – Noosa (20 – 77.27%)
12 – Sherwood (4 – 50.89%)
Photos by Highflyer Images