By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
ASPLEY continued its dynasty in the QAFL Senior Men’s competition when it secured its second-consecutive premiership with a 42-point win over Redland Victoria Point at Giffin Park.
The Hornets joined the QAFL competition ahead of the 2022 season after a decade away from AFL Queensland with 10 seasons in the NEAFL and one season in the Victorian Football League.
It saluted in 2022 when it overcame a red-hot undefeated Broadbeach at Giffin Park to the tune of 45-points and was without a doubt the best team all season in 2023 dropping two matches and drawing the season-opener with Broadbeach to take home the 2023 decider against an outstanding RVP outfit.
Redland Victoria Point had an outstanding season under the leadership of highly respected coach Phil Carse and with the talent on its list, perhaps underdelivered in the previous two seasons, digging deep to be a genuine contender for the 2023 title.
For the Sharks to salute, it needed the perfect start and it almost happened in the form of Brock Aston with a shot on the run that went wide inside the first two minutes.
Aspley’s Stackleberg and Freeman had chances at the other end but couldn’t convert. Stackleberg however found himself on a bullet-like pass from half-forward to mark strong 35-metres out directly in front and converting in the sixth-minute to open the account.
Goals to Freeman and Tom Watson (on the run) inside five-minutes had Aspley sprint out to an 18-point lead mid-way through the term.
RVP needed a settler and it came through a classy Matt Hammelmann goal after a power-house mark on the lead and conversion at the 14.5-minute mark.
Aspley looked dangerous at half-forward and made the most of its scoring chances with returning Will O’Dwyer kicking a valuable goal heading into time-on as it led by 20-points at the first break
Aspley 4.4.28 – 1.2.8 – Redland Victoria Point
Brad Murcock of RVP and Coen Harker of Aspley were giant forces in the midfield for their respective sides; throwing their strength around and laying some impressive tackles to keep the game on a knife’s edge.
O’Dwyer found himself loose 6.5-minutes into the quarter and kicked a big-time goal to open up a 26-point deficit.
The Sharks couldn’t find space inside 50 with Jackson Allen dominating with his strength and size; while Liam Dawson showed that his 2022 Joe Grant Medal-winning efforts were not a one-time deal with some incredible intercept marks inside the Sharks’ attacking 50. Adrian Williams was doing his best to replicate Dawson at the other end.
When Reece Toye kicked the first of his two goals for Aspley at the 18.5-minute mark; the lead ballooned out to 32-points and signs were looking dangerous for Redland Victoria Point.
Goals to Matt Payne and Jono Freeman had the lead sprint out to 42-points late in the quarter for the hungry Hornets.
A long-range goal from Tom Matthews on the stroke of half-time gave the Sharks some momentum heading into half-time; ending a run of five unanswered goals and their first goal in 45-minutes.
Aspley 8.7.55 – 2.7.19 Redland Victoria Point
The third quarter is always known as the ‘premiership quarter’ for a good reason – to see which team can respond from the half-time break and get the best start possible; if you’re ahead – to create a match-winning lead; if you’re behind – to close the gap and set up an epic final term.
After leading by 36-points at the main break; Aspley sealed the 2023 Premiership in the ‘premiership quarter’. Twin towers Jono Freeman (two) and Stackleberg (one) kicked three goals on the bounce in 6-minutes to open up a staggering 55-point lead eight-minutes into the term.
It was going to take a monumental effort for the Sharks to get back into the contest, and signs of improvement started to show with Jack Rolls winning quality possessions; Matt Hambleton dashing across half-back and Matt Hammelmann presenting well.
The Sharks kicked three of four goals to close out the third term with Hammelmann kicking two and Rolls kicking one, but the margin still remained at 42-points heading into the final quarter.
Aspley 12.8.80 – 5.8.38 Redland Victoria Point
Matt Payne played like a man possessed from the opening bounce in the quarter to deny any chance of a miracle comeback from Redland Victoria Point.
Michael Best sharked a goal out of nothing in the goal square to pump the margin back out to 47-points seven-minutes into the quarter.
When Reece Toye kicked his second at the 14-minute mark on the run in the forward pocket; the flood gates opened and the celebrations well and truly kicked into top gear.
Hammelmann kicked two late goals to finish with five for the match; while Freeman kicked his fifth goal late in the game.
The final quarter went for 35-minutes, the longest of the day and perhaps the most agonising for Sharks’ players and fans with the premiership cup disappearing in the review mirror. It was a brave effort in its first arrival to the dance; and perhaps the experience of last year’s premiership victory at the same venue; and the three wins in the matches between the pair across the year that gave Aspley the extra edge heading into the premiership decider.
Aspley 16.12.108 defeated Redland Victoria Point 9.12.66
Goals – (Aspley) Jono Freeman 5, Connor Stackleberg 3, Will O’Dwyer 2, Reece Toye 2, Michael Best, Matt Payne, Will Peppin and Tom Watson 1. (Redland Victoria Point) Matt Hammelmann 5, Tyler Hausfield, Tom Matthews, Luke O’Sullivan and Jack Rolls 1.
Joe Grant Medal – Liam Dawson (Aspley)
STATS THAT MATTERED
Possessions – Aspley (284) – RVP (289)
Marks – Aspley (87) – RVP (78)
Intercept marks – Aspley (13) – RVP (15)
Tackles – Aspley (42) – RVP (64)
Clearances – Aspley (39) – RVP (36)
Hit-outs – Aspley (52) – RVP (29)
I50s – Aspley (47) – RVP (49)
F50 Marks – Aspley (14) – RVP (10)
BEST PLAYERS – Aspley
Liam Dawson secured his second consecutive Joe Grant Medal with a best-on-ground performance. He was unstoppable yet again in the back half of the ground with 11 marks and 23 disposals. Dawson was only outdone in terms of disposals by the talented Matt Payne who could have also taken home the Joe Grant Medal for his work in the midfield. He finished with a game-high 28 touches, five clearances, and a goal. Jono Freeman impressed up forward with five goals and took all four marks inside 50. He also had 12 hit-outs. Connor Stackleberg finished with 3.5 and seven marks inside 50. Coen Harker enjoyed 13 touches and had an equal-game-high 10 tackles. Ruckman will Wolbers gathered 40 hit-outs and had an equal-game-high seven clearances.
BEST PLAYERS – Redland Victoria Point
Jack Rolls was outstanding with 20 touches and five clearances with a goal in a quality effort. Luke O’Sullivan laid eight tackles, recorded 10 inside 50s, and a goal to go with his team-high 27 touches. Matt Hammelmann kicked 5.2 from his eight kicks. Brad Murdock had five touches but he laid 10 tackles in an extraordinary effort. Josh Brown didn’t register a goal but he pressed further up the ground and enjoyed a season-high 19 touches to go with four tackles.
Images by Brooke Sleep Media