By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
REDLAND-Victoria Point hosts Wilston Grange in the Preliminary Final at The Tank in one of the most highly anticipated clashes of the season.
REDLAND-VICTORIA POINT v WILSTON GRANGE
Key ins – None
Key outs – None
The Sharks head into this clash with an unchanged line-up from the one that went down to Broadbeach last week.
FB – 12 – Scott Miller | 9 – Mitch Stallard | 4 – Peter Yagmoor
HB – 19 – Reuben William | 35 – Matthew Hambleton | 41 – Adrian Williams
C – 26 – William Johnson | 14 – Jack Rolls | 5 – Campbell Aston
HF – 29 – Thomas Matthews | 17 – Dean Benson| 18 – Damian Steven
FF – 10 – Joshua Brown | 8 – Matt Hammelmann | 6 – Silivelio Lemana-Pakau
FOLL – 33 – Jarrod Huddy | 1 – Brock Aston | 44 – Luke O’Sullivan
INT – 11 – Harrison Hunkin | 13 – Bradley Murdock | 36 – Tyler Hausfeld | 51 – Daniel Annable
EMG – 60 – Marcus Khoo | 7 – Liam Eadie | 2 – Jake Chapman | 28 – Andrew Dart
Key ins – Hunter Osborne and Jess Budarick
Key outs – Bailey Gordon and Dan Lanthois
The Gorillas were forced to make two changes from the team that beat Broadbeach last week with Bailey Gordon and Dan Lanthois both coming out of the team. Gordon sustained a knee injury in the first half but was thankfully cleared of any serious damage. Lanthois injured his hamstring early in the final quarter. Hunter Osborne comes back into the team after playing 18 of 20 games with the Senior team this year and Jess Budarick returns and has seven goals from his nine games this season while yet to play in the finals.
FB – 6 – Lachlan Nixon-Smith | 19 – Zach Westerberg | 16 – Harry Wilson
HB – 41 – Samuel Pettigrew | 18 – Patrick Snell | 22 – Daniel Bowles
W – 2 – Kailem Baker | 48 – Ned Rosenbrock | 33 – Hunter Osborne
HF – 65 | Jake Fazldeen | 28 – Zackary Derksen | 31 – Oscar Stewart
FF – 3 – Lachlan Rhook | 7 – Hugh Fidler | 32 – Marly Mcgregor
FOLL – 20 – Billy Richardson | 11 – William Martyn | 13 – Joel Budarick
INT – 4 – Jess Budarick | 5 – Hugo Thew | 12 – Fergus McFadyen | 30 -Jackson Gordon
EMG – 55 – Nash Stevenson | 66 – Maverick Garaicoa | 42 – Lachlan Zakaras | 1 – Taylor McCubbin
MEETING THIS YEAR
Round 18 – The Tank
REDLAND-VICTORIA POINT 17.14.116 defeated WILSTON GRANGE 12.4.76
The Sharks exploded out of the blocks in the first term with seven goals to take a 26-point lead into the first change.
The Gorillas fought back in the second term with four goals to one to cut the margin back to just eight-points at half-time.
With the game firmly in the balance, it was the Sharks that had trouble converting on the scoreboard, kicking 3.7 in the third term to 2.0 as the head extended out to 21-points and their opponents firmly in reach.
The Sharks responded to its inaccurate kicking from the third term with 6.3 to 3.2 to win by 40-points; book ending the game with 13.6.84 to 6.3.39 (+45). The game was quite even in the middle quarters, at least on the scoreboard.
Matt Hammelmann kicked five goals for the winners; while Fazldeen, Fidler, Martyn and Oscar Stewart each kicked two goals.
FINALS RUN SO FAR
REDLAND-VICTORIA POINT – after leading the Hornets by 13-points late in the first term, the Sharks conceded 12 of the next 13 goals to turn a 13-point lead into a 57-point deficit at three-quarter-time (70-point turn-around in 2.5 quarters). Benson and Hammelmann kicked three goals each, but it was shades of the previous meeting between the pair where the Hornets had a run on and the Sharks couldn’t slow down the momentum.
WILSTON GRANGE – it led the Demons by 48-points in the second term in week one and held on to win by 6-points in the best win of the season to that point. It trailed by five-goals in the second term against Broadbeach; stormed back into the contest; trailed by 13-points approaching time-on in the final term and stormed home to celebrate its best victory in decades. Jake Fazldeen was the hero with five goals, McFadyen and Richardson kicked three with the young trio contributing 11 match-winning goals. Two wins by six-points on the road when the game was there to be won, it’s something special.
Just when we thought that the win over Surfers Paradise in week one of the finals was the best win of the season, Wilston Grange took it to another level last week against Broadbeach with one of the greatest wins in the past five years.
To win like it did against Surfers Paradise is one thing, especially with a reasonably unimpressive record against top six teams across the season (losing to Surfers 24 to 102 less than a month earlier for example), and then back it up last week with one of the genuine contenders to the flag with one fit player on the bench in the final term; it’s almost fairytale stuff.
Wilston Grange in the 2023 finals series is parallel to Maroochydore in 2021; a team that had beaten one top six team all year and won three games on the road, all in remarkable fashion, to make the Grand Final from sixth position. It ultimately went down to flag favourites Broadbeach.
Like Maroochydore, Wilston Grange must go on the road again to take on the highly fancied Redland-Victoria Point where if successful, will face flag favourites Aspley in the Grand Final.
There is so much to like about this narrative, and it fits the cliche of ‘finals is a different ball game’ because it sticks to it and it gives hope to any team that finishes fifth or sixth and has to play on the road each week to make the decider, that in fact it can be done.
Redland-Victoria Point has produced a glorious run over its past three seasons; and with the best attack in that time; even perhaps the best talent across each line through that time; it hasn’t made a Grand Final, yet.
It is all or nothing for the Sharks in this contest. With the momentum riding with their opponents, they must pull out all stops to lead early and maintain it.
Wilston Grange has proven in recent weeks that regardless of the state of the game, it will put pressure on and be relevant from first siren to last.
Wilston Grange Week one heroes Hugh Fidler and Lachy Rhook barely saw any of the ball in week two with both having stints in the midfield late in the game when it was there to be won. Junior players Fazldeen and McFadyen stepped up. So if you stop some key stars, others step up.
Redland-Victoria Point, pound for pound is the most talented team in the competition but it does have periods where if it loses momentum in one area; other areas struggle.
Matt Hammelmann has 94 goals for the year. It’s unlikely, should the Sharks get up that he will kick the six required to make the century and this is said in the context that if the Sharks win through, the romance of the crowd storming onto the ground to celebrate 100 goals in a season is pretty special.
This is a tough match to predict. It will either be really close and Wilston Grange will win yet another thriller, or Redland-Victoria Point will be eight goals up at three-quarter time and motor through in the final term to seal a date with Aspley and finally capitalise on its potential.