Submitted by Chris Yeend
Round One of the 2022 Senior QAFL season is in the books and we were treated to a memorable start to the season.
We had the debut of former AFL utility Liam Jones who guided Palm Beach Currumbin to a heart-stopping two-point win over Surfers Paradise; Matt Hammelmann put on eight goals for Redland-Victoria Point in a surprising 102-point win over contenders Morningside; Mt Gravatt held off a determined Sherwood by 20-points in a highly entertaining contest; Connor Stackleberg kicked six goals to lead Aspley to victory over Wilston Grange; former Lion, Blue and Cat Lachie Henderson guided Labrador to a staggering 75-point win over reigning Grand Finalists Maroochydore; and Broadbeach held off a new and improved Noosa by three goals in a battle between the 2021 premiers and wooden spooners while unfurling the premiership flag.
LABRADOR v BROADBEACH
This is a battle where old scores will be settled at Cooke-Murphy Oval. This battlefield told so many crucial stories for the Tigers and the Cats in 2021 in the biggest battle on the Gold Coast.
The Tigers made a massive statement to the competition mid-way through the 2021 season when it took down Broadbeach on this ground in a tight, bruising encounter and eventual league best and fairest winner Jordan Moncrieff was chasing kicks at half-back instead of his usual role up forward.
Broadbeach secured the most important win of its season to that point when it came from behind at three-quarter time to defeat Labrador at this venue by four-points and advance to the Grand Final.
Despite the loss, the Tigers secured the home Preliminary Final against Maroochydore and everything went according to plan until the final 10-minutes of the game; and we all remember what happened there.
It’s fitting that these two teams join forces so early in the season and at this venue where the new and improved Labrador line-up under second year coach Nick Malceski and both secured impressive wins in their respective season openers. Another contest like the previous two will have tongues wagging to see more of the pair compete. The next meeting as at Subaru Oval on June 25; get excited.
Labrador played above and beyond in its opening clash of the season when it took down Maroochydore in a game that no-one would have tipped to have produced a 75-point result; particularly given that the previous contest was so memorable between the pair in the Preliminary Final. A massive win on the road over a contender has absolutely shaken the competition early in season 2022.
Broadbeach unfurled the 2021 premiership flag in front of an adoring home crowd to kick off the year in the most exciting match of the weekend. Yes, there were closer results than the three-goal win over Noosa; but with the expectations and talent of Broadbeach so high, to have Noosa; a team that failed to win a game in 2021, get oh-so-close to the reigning premiers on the road in the biggest trip in football, says more about the direction of where this competition is heading, and we love it.
Players to watch
Lachie Henderson – the general in the backline with a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game that far exceeds anyone in the team. He and coach Nick Malceski have been in the AFL system a long time and to have an assistant coach of Henderson’s quality on the ground that can reinforce the message from the bench is a great luxury to have.
Sam Mercer – this kid can play. He had an impressive 2021 Grand Final in the Colts and proved on several occasions last year that he can find the goals. Any kid that walks into a Senior team and kicks five-goals on debut against a quality outfit is definitely one to watch. This is a massive test for him against the reigning premiers but the experience will be invaluable.
Blake Erickson – running through the midfield, crashing packs and dictating play like he is a master of wizardry, Erickson is a favourite to have in the team and plays the game so well.
Lucas Jellyman Turner – his performances for St Mary’s in the 2021/22 season was the stuff of dreams. He carried on the premiership winning form to help guide the Saints into the finals and was a key contributor in the team winning the flag. He is an extraordinary player that won lots of praise for his run, dash and carry from the SEN radio commentary team and that style of play will be handy in this contest.
Can Labrador win? The result of this game will provide a better indication of where this team is at. Broadbeach is already established as a power-house; but Labrador is into year two under the Malceski reign and victory here will be more important to them, especially after a big win over contender Maroochydore.
Broadbeach will be the hunted this season and there isn’t much that has changed about this list since last year. The hunger is in this group to go back-to-back especially after it felt it missed a golden chance in the 2020 decider. It’ll be hard to back against them in any game this year and we’re only one round in the books
MORNINGSIDE v PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN
The Panthers promised so much heading into the 2022 season opener last week and the result against the Sharks stunned the competition. To go goal-less in the first half and have 27 scoring shots against them was a massive shock and this group knows it’s better than that. The talent in this line-up runs so deep especially with numerous VFL and Academy products on the list.
Palm Beach Currumbin played some incredible football last week and to edge out the Demons like it did by two-points was a remarkable effort.
There is a lot of the unknown about PBC this year and they will most definitely fly under the radar. This is something that won’t phrase Russ one bit; it will give time to build this team up and give that confidence that it can beat anyone on any day. A very positive start to the season that is likely to continue over the coming four weeks.
Morningside will be desperate to forget about the result against Redland-Victoria Point; learn from the mistakes and be more accountable this week. The team is loaded with talent with Will Pendlebury off half-back, Tom Jeffrey in the middle and Keegan Downie up forward. There is so much to like about this group and it knows that it is better than a 17-goal loss.
Palm Beach Currumbin played incredible in the first half against Surfers Paradise and held on with one goal in the second half to win by two-points. It was lucky that the Demons kicked two goals from eight shots in the last quarter but the pressure was on for the entire second half and to hold on and win those tight games early in the season will help immensely at the end of the season.
Players to watch
Will Pendlebury – the general across half back and a quality user of the ball. Invaluable to this team.
Tom Jeffrey – a dynamic ball winner that roves the ball well off the ruck contests and sets up the play further up the ground.
PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN
Tyler Cornish – dominated in the opening round last week. He lined up for Essendon in the VFL game against Southport in the most-watched VFL game of the season in 2021 and he more than held his own winning plenty of the ball and having a valuable impact. Doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
Ben McInneny – kicked four goals starting at centre half forward last week and will be a valuable asset to this team across the year. He will back up that effort with a solid performance in this clash.
How does Morningside bounce back? Redland-Victoria Point will be on another level this year than it was in 2021, that can’t be ignored. However, the Panthers will be hoping it can reset, rebuild and get their hands on the football and play its quality game style. What they produce in this contest will play a role in how the race for the finals shapes early as teams like PBC start to think it may be one of those teams to replace them in the top six.
Palm Beach have the form early to win on the road. Morningside need a complete form reversal from last week and it may be too big of an ask.
SHERWOOD v REDLAND-VICTORIA POINT
Sherwood went into the off-season confident that it could improve on its success that it achieved in patches against some of the best teams in the competition. This talented group of emerging players under the guidance of Adrian Fletcher, who is one of the best in the region for helping young players get the best out of their ability, upset some of the best teams in the competition but struggled at times to get wins against the teams around them in the bottom half of the ladder.
The Pies hit the ground running against the Vultures last week and went toe-to-toe with them for much of the game before going down by 20-points. This is an improvement on season 2021 where if they trailed for much of the game, the opposition could get some distance from them; so already we’ve seen some positive developments in the opening game.
Redland-Victoria Point produced the result of the weekend when it unleashed its superstar forward attack led by goal kicking machine Matt Hammelmann. We saw glimpses of what this squad could do under Phil Carse in 2021 that just couldn’t maintain that momentum following the COVID break and the season resumption in finals.
We witnessed the Sharks last week with a few valuable pieces of weaponry to add to their already strong outfit and unfortunately for the Panthers, and perhaps for the rest of the competition; the best version of this team was on display in the season opener and we have all been put on notice.
Sherwood showed signs of improvement in the offseason with some of its recruits standing out with Belly Nizigame and Jack James having moments of brilliance. The fact that this team worked hard across four quarters and never gave up the fight against an improving Vultures outfit is a sign of positive things to come.
Redland-Victoria Point put the competition on notice last week when it led Morningside by 94-points at half-time and holding them goalless in a remarkable display. With 41 scoring shots on the board including 16 in the second term alone is breathtaking. Matt Hammelmann kicked eight goals in a sign of things to come.
Players to watch
Bruce Reville – impressed at half-forward last week and has VFL experience to his credit at the Brisbane Lions. He is only going to get better.
Jack James – had the big job on Jonah Licht last week in the backline and more than held his own on debut in Pies’ colours.
Thomas Salter – a league best and fairest winner with pace and class across half-back. An outstanding ball winner that is responsible for a lot of movements inside 50 from the backline.
Matt Hammelmann – eight goals on debut last week for the Sharks against a solid Panthers’ backline, this superstar in the number 8 will take this competition by storm and we already saw a nice offering in the season opener.
Who takes Matt Hammelmann? Jack James looks like he may take the job on key forwards this year and every coach this season will look to find a match up for him as soon as they start planning for the game against the Sharks. He kicked eight goals last week and was the perfect addition to an already impressive forward line. If Sherwood can negate his influence, they’ll have the capacity to be competitive in other areas across the ground and push the Sharks.
Redland-Victoria Point will be too strong here but it wouldn’t be naive to think that Sherwood couldn’t push them. Sherwood did have some good form against some of the best teams in the competition in 2021 and while it’s a new season, the coaching staff can use that to give the group some confidence. It is a pretty competitive team, and so it would be unlikely the Sharks will execute a similar sort of performance like they did against the Panthers.
WILSTON GRANGE v MT GRAVATT
Wilston Grange came into the 2022 season looking to add some experience around it’s younger players and help improve the list from the bottom, up. With Matt Eagles at the helm as captain and some quality young talent coming through, this season was and will continue to be a year of development and building that list for bigger and better things.
The Gorillas fronted a red-hot Aspley out-fit in its opening hit-out since finishing at the VFL at the conclusion of 2021 and it was always going to be a tough ask. There was plenty of positives in the 65-point loss that will assist with this week.
Mt Gravatt hit the ground running on the back of an impressive pre-season where it put lots of games into its players to prepare for round one. With a developing but more mature list, this group did exactly what it needed to when it took down Sherwood on the weekend and to have that confidence to run games out and still be ahead on the scoreboard at the end of the game is a testament to the wonderful work that the list has produced in the off-season.
There was a bit of the unknown for Aspley in regards to talent retention after stepping into the QAFL and development of its list in that transition from the VFL to QAFL. Wilston Grange was always going to have a tough ask but it competed well for the most part. Some basic errors under pressure are easily rectified on the training track and to keep up that scoreboard pressure was solid.
Mt Gravatt sent home six final quarter goals to take down the Pies with Ethan Kerr and Harry Milford combining for 10 goals in an amazing effort. The 20-point win against an opposition expected to contest for a spot in the bottom half of the six is almost like an eight-point game come the end of the season.
Players to watch
Matt Eagles – forward, back and ruck; this former AFL tall can do it all. With premiership success at NEAFL level and around a quality playing group at Brisbane; his experience is invaluable and can be moved around where needed depending on the game.
Matt Payne – quality onballer with VFL experience and very damaging up forward when he gets a chance. Like Eagles, is a great leader and can turn the game around.
Jonah Licht – there is just so much to like about how he plays his footy at half forward. He is a brilliant leader around the team and is quick for his size and great in the air.
Craig Malone – one of the tallest players in the competition and is a brilliant tap ruckman. Plays a kick behind the ball making it challenging for opposition defenders to clear the ball from half-back as he just gets into the right spots.
Who does the victory benefit more? Wilston Grange will probably get more out of the win in terms of the context of the season going forward. A win here will spark on the confidence of its younger players and head coach Brent Moloney. Mt Gravatt has the runs on the board and the expectations and belief to genuinely contend for finals will be a key factor across the season. A loss for them will hurt but we know they’ll respond well.
Mt Gravatt on the road will be too strong. The playing deck will suit them nicely and they’ll take the confidence from the season opening win over Sherwood and push up into the top four.
NOOSA v ASPLEY
Noosa could potentially be the biggest story of the year. The talk during the pre-season with the quality of recruitment and growth in successful attitude off the field established something special for the team that failed to win a game in its first season in the QAFL.
With talk, comes action and there was a lot of talk in the off-season and the fact that it ran with a near full-strengthened Broadbeach for four quarters is a sign that they are the real deal. The reigning premiers were pushed and rightfully so by a new and improved Tiger Army.
Aspley hit the ground running hard at home with an impressive win over the Gorillas. The club would have been looking forward to getting that round one game done just to see where they are at, and from all signs from that game, there is a lot to admire early on.
The Tigers pushed the Cats all the way in the three-goal defeat on the road. With Will O’Dwyer and Aaron Laskey impressing, this squad showed a lot of heart and if it can produce that sort of result against one of the flag favourites early, I think we’re on the verge of seeing something special.
Connor Stackelberg proved too hot to handle last week by giving the Hornets that sting up forward. Ben Warren and Liam Dawson looked damaging while Ryan Banks-Smith showed us his outstanding run and attack on the ball. There was a lot to love about the win and enough to kick the machine off and running.
Players to watch
Jonathon Freeman – plays against his former team where he was such a force in the NEAFL and VFL. A quality forward that can light it up when he gets the hot boot and can kick goals in a hurry.
Aaron Wilson – at his best, he is the most entertaining player to watch and that’s not an over exaggeration. He is quick, flashy, can do it all and kick big-time goals. He has all of the tools in the tool kit to do something special.
Ben Warren – a handy goal kicker that is great for his size and ability. Can kick a bag when he is in control of his game and can cause headaches and heartaches for the opposition.
Ryan Banks-Smith – when he is in top flight, it’s like he is driving a Rolls-Royce. A brilliant user of the ball and a quality player to watch.
Can Noosa get their first victory in the QAFL? IF the Tigers go in with that same belief that they did against the Cats, and at home in front of an adoring home crowd, you bet they can. Aspley are going to be around the mark this season as a contender so if Noosa can get them this weekend, it will do a tremendous amount of confidence for the team. If Noosa wins, the race for the top six early in the QAFL season will bat really deep.
This is arguably the match of the weekend and Noosa may just be in the box seat to get the four points in a highly entertaining contest.
SURFERS PARADISE v MAROOCHYDORE
After a disappointing first half against PBC, Surfers Paradise came storming home like a steam train only to finish short by two-points. The Demons kicked 5.10 to 1.5 in the second half and will be disappointed it let some crucial opportunities slide. Like we come to expect from the 2019 premiers however, they are always in the hunt and they make the opposition earn every kick. That win will do a lot for PBC.
Maroochydore put on one of the more disappointing efforts on the weekend and the playing group know that. Fresh off a Grand Final appearance in 2021, the expectations were that this group would go further in 2022. The loss of Jacob Simpson in the ruck was vital and it’s difficult to replace players of his calibre.
A poor first half cost the Demons in the long run as they fell short to PBC but the efforts of Harrison Fraser, Matt Doran and the lightening quick Jack Yelland were a few key positives to stand out. Poor kicking is poor football and to miss some golden opportunities late in the game proved costly. This team can bounce back.
Maroochydore were stunned by a Labrador side eager to make amends for the 2021 Preliminary Final defeat and it did so in style with a 75-point win. The Roos conceded 41 scoring shots and registered only 16. The result proved that Labrador is going to rock the competition especially if Maroochydore manages to recover.
Players to watch
Alby Jones – a brilliant leader and outstanding user of the ball. Commands the backline and is rock-solid.
Jack Yelland – can take the ball and run with speed to burn. Super quick and a genuine excitement machine.
Hamish Govan – the former captain at the Kyneton Football Netball Club in the Bendigo Football Netball Club is an exceptional user of the ball across half back and drops into the midfield to add some extra speed and quality ball use.
Josh Govan – the captain of this team is a great left foot kick and a fantastic user of the ball and a brilliant leader.
Can Maroochydore bounce back from last week? Last week’s result caught everyone by surprise. It would be a bigger surprise if Surfers Paradise storm to an eight to 10 goal win.
Surfers Paradise at home will be just too strong and the ground suits its playing style much better. We should see a close encounter and it will be value for money to watch in the flesh or live online.
Watch the game LIVE – https://cluch.tv/afl/afl-queensland/qafl/188059/