The Queensland U18 team fell 20 points short of victory against the North Ballarat Rebels, but AFL Queensland Academy and High Performance coach, Adrian Fletcher, says they’ll be better for the experience.
Poor decision-making cost Queensland in the 7.11 (53) – 11.7 (73) loss, with the state fielding its most inexperienced line up of the season in the match, including seven changes from their National Championships squad.
Fletcher said those younger players would take an invaluable lesson from the clash, irrespective of the final result.
“It’s a good learning curve for them, to play against big bodies,” he said.
“We’ve got to just keep putting them in the coal face and see how we go.
“They’ll get a lot out of it, that’s pressure.
“You don’t have much time with the ball and if you do and you don’t make the right decision it’ll cost you a goal.”
The home side began with intensity, with Darcy Task and Dylan Mutu kicking the first two goals of the game, but couldn’t convert their opportunities despite a dominant first quarter, taking an eight-point lead into the break.
Queensland looked threatening when they took the game on, but North Ballarat’s pressure across the ground and their effective tackling wore the maroons down as the game went on.
In a tight third quarter, Matthew Hammelmann scored the only goal of the term, in the 19th minute, making the difference just one goal at the final break, before a five goal to two quarter in the Rebels’ favour sealed the win for the visitors.
Hammelmann was a shining light for Queensland, continuing his mid-year form surge, finishing with four goals.
The Morningside junior was a focal point in attack, showing improved intensity in the game, taking strong marks and giving his team options up the ground as well.
Fellow tall, Harris Andrews provided support to Hammelmann in the goal square in the final term, while’s Isaac Hay was solid in his return from a shoulder injury and Trask played one of his best games of the year.
Bottom-agers, Ben Keays and Corey Wagner, showed a glimpse of how the 2015 state team could look, leading the way for the Maroons.
Alarm bells went through the Queensland camp when captain, Darcy Cameron-Reeves, went down with an ankle injury in the second, but he returned to the field to play out the game.
The Rebels’ Matthew Johnston kicked some key goals for his team, finishing with two goals, while Rowan Marshall was dominant in the ruck as well.
Fletcher said his side didn’t respond well enough to the Rebels’ pressure, after a strong start.
“They (North Ballarat) tackled better than us today, made us cough it up and there were some coast to coast goals that we didn’t defend that well.
“We just liked it uncontested at times and under pressure, we’ve got to get better at that.
“Until you play week in week out against bigger bodies, you won’t cope with it.”
Queensland will have a chance to rebound in their final match of the season against the Geelong Falcons next Saturday.
Queensland 3.4 4.5 5.7 7.11-53
North Ballarat Rebels 2.2 6.5 6.7 11.7-73
Goal Kickers: M. Hammelmann 4, H. Andrews , D. Mutu, Trask
Best Players: M. Hammelmann , H. Andrews , B. Keays , C. Stevenson , I. Hay , . Henderson
NORTH BALLARAT REBELS
Goal Kickers: T. Taurau 2, M. Johnston 2, K. Mason , E. Guthrie , J. Hopper , N. Weightman , S. McClure , D. Butler , L. McLeod
Best Players: M. Johnston , J. Hopper , D. Butler , T. Templeton , B. Simpson , R. Marshall