With QAFL teams in the home stretch of the season, we thought it’s time to take a look at where they have been, and what is ahead of them in 2015. Check it out, club by club, below.
11-0. Has a nice ring doesn’t it? I think everyone expected Labrador to be the real improvers in 2015, but probably not to this extent. Sandgate got within 30-points in round 1, and that was as close as anyone has been all year. Their round 6 win over Morningside, the first team to do so in 25 games, was when everyone really took a step back and realised they are the team to beat in 2015. They have handled every challenge thrown at them to date, including a 90-point win over the Western Magpies last weekend, despite battling some injuries to key players over the last few weeks.
The next blockbuster for the Tigers will be against Morningside in round 15, followed by Wilston Grange the week after. Although they took care of the Gorillas quite comfortably in round 6, don’t expect the same result from the much-improved Gorillas this time around. Games against UQ and Mt Gravatt in the last two weeks of the home and away season could be a good opportunity for the Tigers to make sure everyone is cherry ripe for a finals assault.
You could throw a blanket over a dozen Tigers players that have been standout this year. Billy Hicks has excelled this year through the middle, Fraser has been dominant up forward when on the park, and Baxter hasn’t missed a beat.
It was business as usual for Morningside through the first five weeks of the year. The Western Magpies gave them a scare in round one, coming within two-points, but like good teams do, they found a way to win. They might have suffered their first loss in 25 games at the hands of Labrador in round 6, but it certainly wasn’t panic stations. They bounced back strongly against Palm Beach, knocked off Broadbeach, and weathered a late Surfers Paradise storm to win the next three. The last two games have seen Morningside come back to the field. The Western Magpies didn’t give them any time or space in round 10, knocking the Panthers off by 20-points, and Wilston Grange came home strong last weekend to take the four-points.
Morningside’s next three weeks look pretty bright, with games against the bottom three teams, which they hope will bring a bit of confidence back in the group before they face Labrador in round 15. That first loss was hard to swallow, so expect a fierce contest. They host Surfers Paradise in round 18, which, depending on how the Gorillas and Magpies fare in the next month, could be a must win game for ladder position.
Abey looks capable of kicking a bag every week for the Panthers, with 37 goals next to his name currently, and Alastair Nash has been by far their most consistent performer of 2015 through the middle.
It started off with hearts in mouths for the Gorillas, after a thrilling win against Surfers Paradise. They couldn’t bridge that four-goal gap to Morningside in round 2, but proved in round 3 that when it works, it’s hard to stop against Sandgate. Their round 4 game against the Magpies that got washed out would have been a good form guide, so there was still a bit of unknown surrounding them heading into the bye. Apart from a very off day against Labrador in round 7, they were winning the games they should, without really putting teams to the sword. They announced themselves last weekend with a huge win in the context of 2015 over Morningside.
This weekend they play the game we have been waiting for against the Magpies, and then have the replay of their washout just two weeks later. It will give us a nice read on how these two teams stack up against each other before the finals. Their game against Labrador in round 16 will also be a nice finals pre-curser, and a good opportunity for the Gorillas to make a statement. Depending on how they fare in those games, it could be a huge game against Palm Beach in the final round, with both teams battling it out for position in the five.
Declan Bevan has been on song in the forward 50 this year, with 32 goals for the season to date. Their midfield group of Brittain, Trewhella when he returns, Kettle, Proud, and Kuret will cause some serious headaches later in the year.
No one really knew what to think about the Western Magpies early on in the year. They showed some really good signs against Morningside in round 1, but were disappointing the following week against Labrador. They got on a roll after that, winning their next seven games to prove they are contenders in 2015, especially after knocking off Morningside on their home deck. They have easily been the biggest improvers throughout the year, as their pressure game has ramped up, but would have been utterly disappointed to get beaten so comfortably by Labrador last week after such a strong showing until quarter time.
It’s a huge couple of games against Wilston Grange coming up in the next three weeks, which will go a long way to in determining where they sit in the finals pecking order. After their Palm Beach game in round 15, it is a nice run home for the Magpies, playing the current three bottom teams in the last three weeks. If percentage comes into play at the end, those games could be key.
Luke Scott has had his own football at times this year. The biggest headache they have is which end of the ground to play him. They have also uncovered a few youngsters, like Sam Copland and Riley Easton, so the future is bright.
Palm Beach Currumbin
It’s been a bit of a hot and cold year for the Lions so far. They had a big win over Broadbeach in round 1 that showed they will be there abouts again, but were upstaged by Sandgate in round 2. They got the job done against Mt Gravatt and UQ in the next two weeks, but they struggled a bit against three of the top four teams to be sitting at 3-4 after round 7. A couple of solid performances in the last month has them ahead of the ledger at 6-5, but coach Chad Owens would love a little bit more consistency in the output.
Palm Beach’s last six weeks are as big as anyone’s. They play Labrador, the Western Magpies, and Morningside in consecutive weeks. If they are serious about their chances in 2015, they have to take a scalp in that period. There round 17 game against Surfers could also be an eight-point-game depending on how results fall. It’s a huge couple of months coming up for the Lions.
Dakota Banister has been a nice find for the Lions this year. Josh Wooley, Todd Bryant and Tom Thynne have been the guys they want the football in the hands of, and for good reason. All three have had an excellent year.
It was a case of close but no cigar early in the year for the Demons. They went down in two absolute thrillers to Wilston Grange and UQ. Labrador was too strong for them in round three, but they got on the board with a very good performance against Mt Gravatt in round 4. They have come a long way across the year, and have pushed a lot of good teams. They got within 33 of Morningside in a closer contest than the scoreboard suggested, they lost with near on the last kick of the day against Wilston Grange, and lost by four-points earlier this year against the Magpies. Last weekend, they were finally able to get over the line in a tight one, winning by a solitary point against UQ.
It’s a 50/50 run home for the Demons. They will have their work cut out to beat Labrador, the Magpies, and Morningside, but would consider themselves a real sniff against Mt Gravatt, Broadbeach and Palm Beach, which they will need to win if they want to play finals.
The Haberfield brothers have run riot this year. They are tough, hard at it, but also damaging on the outside.
It was a real struggle early for the Cats, but they have turned their season around in the last five weeks. They were no match for Palm Beach in round one, but got up by a point against Mt Gravatt in round 2. They would have to wait until round 7 for their next win, which came against UQ. Morningside were too good the next week, but the Cats bounced back in style against Sandgate in round 9. Their improvement was proven when they pushed Palm Beach all the way in 10, and arguably should have won it.
It’s a big three weeks for Broadbeach coming up. They face Labrador, the Western Magpies and Wilston Grange. Apart from the Morningside game, they will fancy their chances in the Surfers, UQ and Sandgate games, but it will be really important to win at least two of those to consolidate their good month.
Ryan Dienjes has been super in his return home this year, and Taylor Haley has been the go to man up forward.
It’s been a mixed bag in terms of wins and losses, but Sandgate have proven they are on the right track this year. They are the team that’s got the closest to Labrador this year, and backed it up a week later with a big win over Palm Beach that really got their season rolling. They struggled against Wilston Grange in round three, and Morningside the week after, but bounced back with a couple of wins against UQ and Mt Gravatt. It’s been a difficult last month for the Hawks, but the wheels have most definitely not fallen off.
It will most likely be a tough two weeks for the Hawks up against Morningside and Wilston Grange, but the draw does open up after that. If they can pinch a couple more wins in their last month, over teams like Mt Gravatt and UQ, who they have already beaten, it will top off a successful year.
Aden Rutledge is an unbelievable player. He is the type of guy who you would love three off; one up forward, one in the middle, and one down back. He is having a stellar year.
It’s been tough going, no doubts about it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They had a big win over UQ in round 1, but a one-point heartbreaking loss against Broadbeach started a string of eight losses on the trot. They were suffering from a few battle scars, and the list is young, it was just a matter of getting them all on the same page. That happened in round 10, when they took care of UQ by 105-points, and although they didn’t get the win the following week against Broadbeach, showed a lot of improvement.
They have got a big game against Surfers this week, which they are more than a chance in, but face the top five teams in the last six weeks. From here on in it’s all about building that cohesion and getting some more game time into the youngsters.
Despite some low scores this year, Rhys Estall has made the most of the Vultures forward 50 entries. He has booted 41 for the year.
It hasn’t gone exactly to plan, but 2015 was always going to be a developmental year. The highlight was most definitely in round 2, when a clutch last minute goal to Jake Evens handed them a one-point win over Surfers Paradise. Despite some heavy losses along the way, they have played good patches of football throughout. The game plan is there; it’s just a matter of adapting, and a more consistent output.
It’s a tough run home, playing all top five sides before seasons end, but they have had their moments against them all. There biggest opportunity for a second win will be against Sandgate in round 14, at home on the small confines of St Lucia. If any team does underestimate them, they will get beaten.
Apart from their star, Darren Pfeiffer, the Red Lions have really found one in Luca Mason. Dustin Harris has been excellent all year, and Harry Milford looks like he is going to be a star of the competition in coming years.
By Andrew Wiles – @andrewjwiles