Submitted by Chris Yeend.
ASPLEY has secured its place in the 2022 QAFL Senior Men’s Grand Final after a hard-fought 13-point win over Redland-Victoria Point at Graham Road in the Preliminary Final on Saturday.
The Hornets kicked the opening score, a goal from Jasper Craven at the four-minute mark of the first term and held the lead for the remaining 121-,minutes of play to book its seat alongside Broadbeach on the Grandest Stage of the 2022 season.
Redland-Victoria Point went into the game filled with a wave of confidence on the back of Matt Hammelmann’s winning point after the siren at home in the elimination Semi-Final against Palm Beach Currumbin just seven days earlier; naming past Grogan Medal winner Tim Salter in the backline for his ninth game of the season after an injury disrupted year.
Aspley went in as close to full strength as possible and needed to deliver a response after falling away in the second half in the loss to Broadbeach the previous week.
FIRST QUARTER – Hornets edge ahead of Sharks
With Will Wolbers in outstanding touch in the ruck for the Hornets in previous weeks, the Sharks had the talent to match him with Ivers, Huddy and Silvelio-Paku rotating in and out of the ruck.
Jasper Craven got the Hornets off to the dream start with a nice snap on the run at the four-minute mark of the opening term.
Stackleberg presented well early and led his opponent to the ball for a few strong marks inside 50 to keep the pressure on the Sharks’ defense. Unfortunately for the star forward, his two shots on goal in the opening 10-minutes resulted in misses as the margin edged out to eight-points.
Adrian Williams commanded plenty of territory in the backline for RVP, forcing the Hornets to find targets outside 40.
Will Peppin proved to be a handy live-wire up forward for the Hornets with a big time mark 10-minutes into the game and kicking truly with the lead extending to 14-points.
Matt Hammelmann kick-started the Shark’s machine with a long-range goal from 50 metres out at the 15-minute mark of the quarter to strip the margin back to seven-points.
Peppin replied shortly later for the Hornets to keep the two-goal buffer.
Deep in the term, Adrian Williams cleared the ball from half-back for the Sharks that fell in the lap for Rayner on the wing; who turned onto his left foot and sent the ball up to half forward towards Hammelmann, who was bumped off the contest by Wolbers to enable his team-mate to gather the ball; that bounced away into the lap of a Shark. Wolbers’ bump on Hammelmann enabled the star forward to gather speed and momentum in the forward line who was all alone and he sprinted into the goal square for the most unlikely, but impressive of goals.
Matt Warren came off the bench and kicked a sizzling goal around the body to cut the margin back to two-points at quarter-time; 3.4.22 to 3.2.20.
SECOND QUARTER – Goal-for-goal bonanza
With the two top attacking teams going head-to-head in perfect conditions, it was essential that the scoreboard was going to be worked over-time.
Wolbers won a free kick from a stoppage for the Hornets and kicked truly from 20-metres out inside the opening 90-seconds to push the margin out to eight-points.
Caleb Franks replied moments later at the other end with a stunning snap as the energy from both sides lifted.
The highlight of the quarter came at the 25-minute mark when Matt Warren gathered the ball in front of the social rooms and curled the ball around the body for a sizzling goal and the margin was cut back to two-points for the third time in the quarter.
Peppin kicked his third goal from the next centre bounce and the margin was pushed out to eight-points for the fifth time in the game. Nick Dodge kicked truly from hard-up on the boundary line at half-forward from long range to end the goal-for-goal procession and sent the home-side into half-time with a 14-point lead; 8.4.52 to 6.2.38. The second term produced eight goals without a miss across both teams.
THIRD QUARTER – All on the line
With a Grand Final spot on the line; the most important 20-minutes for both sides was straight out of half-time.
In-form Hornet Coen Harker put his hand up to try and lift his team to victory; while for the Sharks, aside from Brock Aston’s heavy lifting and consecutive follow-ups around general play; co-captain Scott Miller was outstanding down back.
The game between the pair deserved to be in the balance heading into the final term, and both teams read the script.
The quarter was a stoppage fest. Jarrod Huddy provided the major highlight with an outstanding mark on centre wing at the 2-minute mark of the quarter.
Matt Thomson came off the bench for the Sharks and found himself within range and kicked the only goal for term at the 13-minute mark. It ended a run of 23-minutes between goals for the visitors.
The margin was cut to eight points at three-quarter-time with the Hornets held goal-less; leading 8.6.54 to 7.3.45
FINAL QUARTER – Hornets hold on
The game was absolutely in the balance heading into the final term. The Sharks dug deep but no-one really put their hand up to take the game by the scruff of the neck and perhaps that was just as much as about the Hornet’s pressure around the contest across all lines; and Coen Harker playing out of his socks.
It took until the 11-minute mark of the term for 50-gamer Brandon Batchelor to break the deadlock for the game with a goal from a set shot; ending a 46-minute spell between goals for the Hornets.
When Fin Dellbridge launched to the heavens and took a towering mark in the goal square at the 14-minute mark, and kicked truly for the Hornets, the margin was out to 22-points.
Twelve-months earlier; Labrador at home, led Maroochydore by 22-points at the 22-minute mark of the last quarter in the Preliminary Final; and the Sharks were better positioned to make the run from behind than what the Roos were that day, so the task of coming back looked a lot more possible.
A few rushed behinds either side of time-on, gave the Sharks some spark and when Harrison Hunkin kicked a goal at the 26-minute mark, the gap was cut to 14-points.
A miss from Brown from the next centre clearance proved costly as the margin was reduced to 13-points.
Aspley held on for the next three-minutes and booked its place in the 2022 decider; 10.7.67 to 8.6.54 and look to extract revenge on Broadbeach after the Semi-final result.
Image by Anthony Byron Photography.