It was a tough year for the Red Lions with just the three wins and 15 losses. Minus a couple of senior players from 2015, combined with the age of their list heading into the year, it was always going to be a hard task to push for finals. They had to wait until round 8 to record their first win over Sandgate, which transformed their season in a way. Injuries to key personnel meant their roster was stripped bare at times, but they uncovered a few more players that look like long-term prospects.
The first win over Sandgate got the monkey off the back, but their season was capped off in the best way with a 62-point win over Broadbeach in round 18. It was a win that makes the off-season more enjoyable, and day one of pre-season that little bit easier. It was made even sweeter when you consider it was a 250-point turnaround since the first time they played.
They were on the end of a couple of big losses this year. Labrador beat them in round 2 by 135-points, Wilston Grange by 97-points in round 3, and Broadbeach by 188-points in round 9.
What they will take from 2016:
Resilience. Things didn’t go to script this year, there is no two ways about that, but what the club will take from it and be proud of is how they never waved the white flag. Character building stuff.
George Hannaford was THE man until he pinged a quad in the state game. In terms of team balance, he was the most important player in the QAFL this year; inside, outside, he did it all. Best and fairest winner Sean Powyer also had a terrific year in the back six. He was solid one-on-one, but quarterback style role he played, setting UQ’s run up, was outstanding.
They had a lot of kids play, and play well this year, but look no further than Jonno Macanawai for your star. The 18-year-old was a bull in the middle, shouldering a heap of load for someone his age. The Red Lions also had the luxury of having Connor Ballenden play a few games this year, who is no doubt headed for AFL footy in a few years.
What they need for 2017:
Height. When they had the likes of Ballenden and Tagell play in the forward line, it straightened the whole team up. If they can get a full time key forward and back to Field 9 over summer, it will transform the style of game they can play and how they move the footy.
By Andrew Wiles