QAFL Season Preview – Wilston Grange

Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
The 2022 season was one that produced some incredible highs, and some frustrating lows for the Wilston Grange outfit.

When this team was hot and running with confidence; they certainly took some beating; but when the opposition got on top of them, as it happened in the middle of the 2022 season with losses to Aspley, PBC and RVP in consecutive weeks (-86, -76, -56) that derailed their season.
The Round 12 loss to Broadbeach hurt; but considering that it came on the back of the three heavy losses against teams entrenched in the top four, it was a sign of a positive turn around in one of the most bold performances of the season.

Fans talk about rivalries on the Gold Coast and even on the Sunshine Coast; however, take this to the bank, the rivalry QAFL fans need to keep an eye on is Wilston Grange v Maroochydore.

The first outing in Round 5 produced a highly entertaining shoot-out with the Gorillas prevailing on the road 17.9.111 to 14.6.90 with Eagles and Scholard kicking four and five goals respectively.
The teams battled again in Round 15 when Maroochydore came from behind at three-quarter-time to win 16.8.104 to 14.17.101 in an instant classic. These two matches were fed off the pre-season game earlier that year when Maroochydore held off Wilston Grange to win with the final kick of the game.
Unfortunately for the Gorillas, with the hope of playing finals still in the balance, they lost to PBC and Noosa in the final few weeks to miss out by 2.5 games; to those two teams.
Brent Moloney will again lead the Gorillas as head coach of the team with Matt Eagles resuming the role of captaincy.

If Wilston Grange fans thought that the recruiting for the 2022 season was impressive; the quality of talent coming through the door in preparation for the 2023 season is next level.

Former Gorilla Will Martyn has returned home to Hickey Park. Martyn played three games for Richmond after being secured with pick 44 in the 2019 AFL draft; an AFL career that saw him secure the 2021 VFL best and fairest for Richmond. Martyn is a former NEAFL premiership player and a Brisbane Lions Academy captain; adding more invaluable leadership to this highly motivated playing group.
Shaun Allan joins the team as a a ruckman and has experience across several competitions in Australia but mostly in Canberra where he secured a best and fairest award and was exceptional across multiple teams.
Jhye Hartung comes across from St Mary’s in the NTFL Premier League as an elite defender. He has a background as an elite hockey player.
The forward line has received a major boost with Lachlan Rook crossing from Cairns where he won the league goal kicking award in 2022 and made team of the year. Rhook representated North Queensland in the Intrastate match last year at Southport; where fittingly he has been offered a VFL contract with the club and will divide his team between the Gorillas in the QAFL and the Sharks in the VFL.
Jack Campbell joins the club as a defender after more than 100 games of Senior football in Sydney including stints with Sydney Swans and Sydney Uni in the NEAFL while also representing NSW at State level and is a five-time team of the year winner.
Kailem Baker has crossed from Redland Victoria Point and will add some explosiveness to the team.
Fixture rating based on 2022 final Home and Away standings
4, 7, 1, 11, 2, 3, 6, 12, 4, 11, 2, 7, 3, 8, 6, 10, 9, 1 = 107
The Gorillas have a solid start to the 2023 season with just two games against finalists from 2022 including against the reigning premiers.
Wilston Grange play 2022 finalists in just eight games this season with four matches against the top three.
On paper, the hardest run is going to be in the back end with matches against Palm Beach Currumbin, Redland Victoria Point and Labrador in the final five weeks. However, if the team can build some solid momentum in the first half of the year and be a heavy hitter in the top six that we know that they can be; those matches in the back half of the year can be quite winnable.
The Gorillas could be one of the more exciting teams in the competition and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if it makes finals. They were just a few games shy of playing finals in 2022 but they have added more depth and strength in key areas that will help them compete stronger for longer and beat more teams above them.
As for the battle with the Roos, fans get to see these two collide twice, on May 20 in Round 8 at Maroochydore and again in Round 17 on July 22 at Hickey Park. Circle this in the diary in the hottest new rivalry in the QAFL.

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