By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
We line up for Round 8 in the QAFL with the best round of matches this season. Redland Victoria Point welcome Aspley to The Tank in a bid to overcome the loss to the Lions last week in a battle of the top two; Palm Beach Currumbin and Surfers Paradise lock horns in one of the most physical contests of the season; the Southern and Northern Tigers go toe-to-toe in a mighty battle; Maroochydore and Wilston Grange look to add another enthralling chapter to an epic rivalry; Sherwood look for its first win of the season against a hungry Mt Gravatt; and the 2020 Grand Finalists Morningside and Broadbeach go face-to-face in a remarkable hit-out with one team hit by injuries and another wanting to make its claim as a force in the competition. This is chapter that has it all.
LABRADOR v NOOSA
Labrador – 7th – (12 – 108%)
Noosa – 11th – (4 – 68%)
LEADING GOAL KICKER – total – (last week)
Labrador – Nathan Wright – 10 (3)
Noosa – Aaron Wilson – 12 (4)
LABRADOR had a positive start against Broadbeach last week with the opening three goals of the game. The Cats kicked five goals to one in the second term to open up an eight-point lead at half-time and the Tigers didn’t close the gap to less than a kick for the rest of the second half. Losing Lachlan Henderson in the first half really hurt as the Tigers worked hard against a more composed Broadbeach line-up but to no avail.
NOOSA played its best football of the season to secure its maiden win of 2023 with a gutsy come-from-behind win over Sherwood. It trailed by 10-points at half-time before kicking five goals in each of the remaining quarters to secure a 16-point win. This was the second time the team had kicked 10 goals or more in a game all season and the first time it reached the century mark (103); and kicked 15 goals in the game which was more than its combined goal tally in the previous two games (9).
Labrador – JED RIDDLE – he won’t win a lot of the ball or take the game by the scruff of the neck and win a game off his own boot; but every team needs a player that puts on great pressure and presents well. He had 11 touches last week and laid three big tackles. His pressure acts at half forward on the quick moving Broadbeach defenders was enough to cause some doubt in their clearance work. He is a player that all coaches want to have in their team and a game like this one could be the one where he puts the opposition on notice.
Noosa – RILEY BUNTAIN – one of the most underrated backmen in the competition. Stood out last week with 22 touches and eight intercept marks with a number of key spoils. He is tremendous player.
WHO WILL WIN
Winning form is good form and the Northern Tigers, Noosa; impressed in the second half against the Pies to build that momentum heading into this contest. Labrador is favourite to win; especially at home. However, aside from one game each; both teams haven’t registered big scores; which says that probably 12 goals will be enough to win it and Noosa will get close.
MAROOCHYDORE v WILSTON GRANGE
Maroochydore – 9th – (8 – 79%)
Wilston Grange – 5th (12 – 119%)
LEADING GOAL KICKER
Maroochydore – Mitch Scholard – 14 (4)
Wilston Grange – Lachlan Rhook – 10 (3)
MAROOCHYDORE played its best game of the season with a remarkable win on the road against the Panthers. It led from start to finish and the defense held up well from a rampaging Panther’s outfit in the final term. This was just the third win that the team has had against a team in the Top Six in the past three years; and it was a season defining one.
WILSTON GRANGE started strongly and were firmly in the contest against Surfers Paradise at home until the final term when it was outmuscled, conceding five final quarter goals in a 28-point loss. The Gorillas were outstanding with 14 effective spoils but made just too many errors in crucial stages of the game.
Maroochydore – MITCH SCHOLARD – he is back with a vengeance. When he is kicking goals and taking opposition names after another strong mark inside 50, he is one of the best forwards in the competition and a genuine match-winner. His four goals and four marks inside 50 last week is a sign of just how great he is. If the Roos are to make a charge into the top six; this is a minimal performance from him and the crowd will absolutely rejoice if he can do more of it; he puts bums on seats.
Wilston Grange – WILL MARTYN – recently selected in the Queensland extended squad and as an Under 23 player. Had 36 touches last week and eight clearances. He is a ball magnet and shows that he still has plenty to offer the top level if ever the opportunity came knocking again.
WHO WILL WIN
This was the best rivalry of 2022; and no teams came near it. The opening contest last year was a classic; and the second one went the distance with Maroochydore winning in a thriller; and that was on the back of a thrilling end to a practice match too. Fans will hope that they see another big chapter etched into the history book between these two. This game is massive for both teams; with the Roos to get the win and make it a genuine arm-wrestle for spots in the top six.
MT GRAVATT v SHERWOOD
Mt Gravatt – 10th (8 – 72%)
Sherwood – 12th (0 – 59%)
LEADING GOAL KICKER
Mt Gravatt – Dylan Smith – 14 (0)
Sherwood – Pat McCarthy – 12 (1)
MT GRAVATT challenged reigning premiers Aspley in the first term as expected. The group kept fighting for three-quarters before the Hornets had a little too much sting to pull away in the final term. There was a lot to like about its efforts against a quality outfit and if you take away the final term, there is enough positives to feed into this game.
SHERWOOD led Noosa on the road for much of the game before being overcome in the second half to the tune of 16-points. It was a super start from a team that is improving after a slow start. There is a lot to like about how this team is developing and will hope to shape the top six in the back end of the season when its list has more game-time together.
Mt Gravatt – BAILEY TOME – finished last week with 15 touches; nine of which were contested and had a number of big wins in the centre clearance space. He had a team-high eight clearances and seven tackles showing that his work-rate is exceptional.
Sherwood – CONNOR BULLEY – one of the best ball users in the team; operating at 95-percent disposal efficiency last week which is pretty standard for him. He took eight marks last week with five of them being intercepted from opposition kicks. Underrated.
WHO WILL WIN
This has been coming for a few weeks with some puzzle pieces slotting into play and that stability within the playing group getting stronger; Sherwood will register its first win of the season, and fittingly on the road. This will be a fascinating contest and well worth watching to see what tricks both teams can pull out to outgun the other; but the Pies will salute, and it will be a treat to watch.
REDLAND VICTORIA POINT v ASPLEY
RVP – 2nd (20 – 150%)
Aspley – 1st – (22 – 216%)
LEADING GOAL KICKER
RVP – Matt Hammelmann – 32 (6)
Aspley – Connor Stackleberg – 17 (7)
REDLAND VICTORIA POINT was toppled last week by a remarkable PBC team to the tune of 15-points. The Sharks were matched in all key areas except one; tackles where it won 61-32. It was beaten in spoils; disposals and inside 50s, all areas that it has been clearly the best team in across the season. This shows that this team can be beaten; but also, a loss at home like that can and should drive this team harder to bounce back.
ASPLEY showed again just why it’s the team to beat in 2023. The reigning premiers were outstanding after quarter-time against a determined Vultures’ outfit with 17 goals to four. The game was rubber-stamped with a nine-goal final term to highlight to the competition that even if the result is a certainty at any point; this team just keeps playing its best football until the final siren.
Aspley – WILL WOLBERS – had nine touches in the win over Mt Gravatt; six of which were contested; however, he had a staggering 57 hit-outs. He is the best ruckman in the competition and it’s further highlighted by the impact he is having on his team which continues to win thanks to his incredible influence.
RVP – ADRIAN WILLIAMS – led his team with 10 intercept marks last week; and he took 11 marks on the day. This alone showcases just how incredible this athlete is and why he is arguably the best defender in the competition. While he used to kick goals in the past; his work in the backline over recent seasons has been amazing.
WHO WILL WIN
This deserves to claim the right to be match of the round; but we know that beyond this game, these two will still have unfinished business. Aspley hasn’t done much wrong across the entire duration of its match time this season; and neither has RVP. Regardless of the opposition it faces; Aspley doesn’t have the stars that other teams have; it’s just a genuine, champion team. The Sharks have key stars across all areas of the ground and if any of them are beaten, they lose a key advantage. The result of this game will add some intrigue ahead of its Round 20 clash on August 12 which will lay the groundwork for a highly possible Qualifying Finals match up. Not all cards will be displayed here; this is a game where both teams drip-feed a bit of what they can each deliver before the big stuff in the post-season.
PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN v SURFERS PARADISE
PBC – 8th – (12 – 80%)
Surfers Paradise – 6th (12 – 115%)
LEADING GOAL KICKER
PBC – AJ Dawson – 7 (2) & Nick Crowley – 7 (DNP)
Surfers Paradise – Byron Finch – 13 (5)
PBC caused the upset of the season when it took down the undefeated Redland Victoria Point on the road last week. It was a win driven from pure courage and determination. While it was well-bested in the tackle count; its disposal efficiency was clean and precise in big moments; highlighted by a goal with the last kick of the game to craft y call-sneak Malachi Dumas.
SURFERS PARADISE recorded an impressive 28-point win on the road to Wilston Grange. After a tight first three quarters, the Demons pushed through with a remarkable final term to seal victory against a tough team. Byron Finch earned himself some much-deserved accolades with a five-goal haul in an incredible performance.
PBC – AJ DAWSON – a goal kicking midfielder that is fast becoming one of the most recognisable players in the competition and his work-rate is much appreciated by his teammates. He finished with multiple goals last week; had five inside 50s and 28 disposals. He just doesn’t quit.
Surfers Paradise – BRODY HABERFIELD – kicking goals on the weekend for the Dees was something that he used to do for fun; now he has applied his craft as a backman and he is firming as one of the most reliable; tough players in that space. He had 21 disposals last week with 33-percent of them contested. His work-rate is only getting better and in a game that will demand physical contested ball wins; he is going to be a key cog in denying the Lions clear ball use in the forward line in their hunt for goals.
WHO WILL WIN
In a round of heavy-hitting matches; this one perhaps could be the biggest of them all. We know that Aspley and Redland Victoria Point will tear the house down; but with PBC coming off a big win over the Sharks; and Surfers Paradise re-emerging from the bottom half of the ladder as a genuine contender; this game pits two of the most competitive; hard-working teams in the competition against each other and there is nothing separating them to determine a winner. When PBC is on; and it should be from the high last week; and Surfers Paradise is coming, hard – it is just too hard to pick a winner here; almost impossible to pick one of the other with any sort of confidence.
MORNINGSIDE v BROADBEACH
Morningside – 4th (16 – 103%)
Broadbeach – 3rd (18 – 121%)
LEADING GOAL KICKER
Morningside – Keegan Downie – 16 (3)
Broadbeach – Jye Lockett – 11 (VFL)
MORNINGSIDE is on a two-game-skid and struggled to hit the front when it pushed hard against the visiting Maroochydore. After conceding an 18-point lead in the opening term; the margin fluctuated around the two-goal mark for much of the remainder of the game. With a tight scoreline, it was of no surprised that the stats were quite even in most areas of the game; except the contested possessions where it was -73. This is just a once-off however as the Panthers have quality contested ball winners.
BROADBEACH got off to a slow start against Labrador but kicked away after quarter-time with a big five-goal second term in blustery conditions that opened up a handy buffer to start the third term. Riley Bowman was dynamic in the ruck and in the forward line; and you’re not going to lose too many games of football when you have 62 inside 50s. There were clutch goals in that final term that went against the run of play that gave it the edge.
Morningside – MITCH ROBINSON – returned from injury last week and was absolutely outstanding. The former Lion/Blue was all class in the midfield with 34 disposals including 15 possessions: eight clearances and six inside 50s. If he remains fit and other commitments allow; and he plays most weeks, the rest of the squad lifts around him.
Broadbeach – KASEY NICHOLAS – was outstanding with 30 disposals; 12 of which were contested in the win over Labrador. He has been more than handy since crossing to the Cats in the off-season and has continued to improve with each game to be one of the most recognisable key position players in the competition.
WHO WILL WIN
The battle between the 2020 Grand Finalists will be quite intriguing. Broadbeach has been decimated with injuries to key personnel that could keep them out of the team for a number of weeks. However, Broadbeach under Craig O’Brien is no stranger to having players out of his best 22 in big doses and has a great coaching style that can deliver a winning game plan regardless of who is in the team, and of age.
If Morningside wants to send a message to the competition; this is the game to do it in. Broadbeach still find ways of winning as it has been doing so over the past few seasons and may just be too strong.