Scouting notes and wrap: QAFL – Round 7

A COUPLE of Gold Coast Suns Academy members had days out in front of goal, while their Brisbane Lions counterparts were also impressive in losing sides. In this week’s Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) weekend wrap and scouting notes, we take a look at how some of the top young guns performed, and which teams enjoyed massive wins. We have included scouting notes for the Broadbeach and Maroochydore clash, as well as the Surfers Paradise and Wilston Grange match.

In the biggest win of the round, Broadbeach Cats trounced Maroochydore by 94 points, with a goal after the siren to Roos’ leading goalkicker Mitchell Scholard saving his team from a triple-figure defeat. He kicked two goals in the win, but it was the shared goalkicking load on the opposite side which was the difference. Broadbeach slammed home seven goals to zero in the opening term, then had a 59-point lead by half-time. They did not take the foot off it in the third term, booting five goals to one to race out to an 88-point advantage by the final break, before reaching the three figures late in the game prior to Scholard’s consolation major in the 17.18 (120) to 4.2 (26).

The star of the show up forward was over-age small, Josh Gore who slammed home five goals in a premier crumbing effort to outscore the opposition by himself, while Clay Cameron and Connor Nutting both booted multiple goals, and Max Lower was superb around the ground. For the Roos, Carter Michael was best-on in a tough day for the visitors, and he features in our scouting notes alongside Gore, as well as Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves and Aidan Fyfe. Scholard and Zac Stone were the other players to stand out for the losers on the day.

There were some similarities in Surfers Paradise’ win over Wilston Grange, but it was also a vastly different contest, as the Demons survived a late scare from a determined Gorillas’ outfit to win 9.11 (65) to 9.8 (62). Gold Coast’s Max Pescud was slotting goals – and behinds – from everywhere, dominating the scoreboard and kicking one third of the game’s goals. He features heavily in our scouting notes alongside Wilston Grange’s best, Tahj Abberley. Despite losing by just three points, Abberley was one of the Gorillas’ standout players through the midfield, kicking a memorable goal as he tried to haul his more experienced teammates over the line in the last quarter. In the end though Pescud’s half-dozen majors were enough for the reigning premiers to have a pulse for season 2020, taking home a much needed four points in the bottom two clash.

Aside from Pescud, Perry Lewis-Smith booted two goals in the win and was amongst the best with Cameron Topping and Daniel Charlesworth. For the Gorillas, Aaron Fabian and Josh Baxter kicked five majors between them, while Will McKenzie and Sam Gribble were also named among the losing team’s best. Abberley, Pescud and Shatna Cahen-Harris all feature in our scouting notes this weekend.

Palm Beach Currumbin did what many expected one of the title favourites to do and took care of business at Labrador, getting up in a 50-point victory. The Lions actually trailed the Tigers at quarter time by five points, but then took the lead with a three goals to zero second term to head into the main break with a 13-point advantage. A dominant six goals to two third quarter put the result all but beyond doubt at the final break, with Palm Beach Currumbin finishing off strongly to win, 14.11 (95) to 6.9 (45).

Six players booted two goals apiece in the win for the Lions, with Mitchell Johnson and Jarryd Douglas amongst those players, and the best. Thomas Thynne and Zac Harrison both impressed for Palm Beach Currumbin on the road, while Fraser Thurlow and Jaise Coleman stood tall for the losers. Gold Coast Suns Academy prospect Rhys Nicholls featured in our Player Focus for the week while Bryce Retzlaff (three goals) and Blair Rubock (two) were the key goalkickers in a losing side.

In the other match, Morningside continued its unbeaten form with an easy 80-point thumping of Mt Gravatt. The Panthers piled on five goals to one in the opening term and led by 33 points at the main break. If that was not enough, they kicked the last seven goals of the game in the second half, to run away 16.7 (103) to 3.5 (23) winners. Matt Hammelmann slotted eight majors in a remarkable performance, while young talent Saxon Crozier kicked a couple alongside Reuben William for the winners. Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds and Brisbane Academy member Blake Coleman were both named among the best, while for the Vultures, Joel Leahy, Luke O’Sullivan and Daine Macdonald were impressive.

Scouting notes:

By: Peter Williams

Tahj Abberley (Wilston Grange)

The Brisbane Lions Academy member was a clear standout in a losing side for the Gorillas, playing predominantly through the midfield and getting some crucial onball minutes. He had the ball on a string in the opening six minutes, earning a rest with five touches to his name. He finished the game with close to 20 disposals and a number of tackles, but it was his work by hand that really stood out. He has the composure to pause and release in time, especially considering the amount of times an opponent would drag him to the ground the moment he got the ball. He has the smarts to keep the ball in front of him and not take possession if an opponent is hot on his collar, and then when having the time and space in front of him, takes the game on.

On a number of occasions he pushed hard down a wing or down the middle, and while he was still late, generally made good decisions with ball-in-hand. The one error he would probably take back was late in the game when he chose to keep the ball inside the field of play deep in attack, without realising opponents were right behind him, forcing them to clear and maintain possession. Otherwise, Abberley’s decision making by hand or foot was generally impressive, and a highlight in the third term was where he handballed quickly out of the stoppage, ran onto the next handball, and launched from outside 50 to see it sail home. In the fourth term, he set up a number of scoring opportunities that helped put his team in front early in the match, and pickpocketed an opponent in the middle at one stage and burst out of the stoppage to kick long. overall, Abberley played a starring role in a losing side.

Shatna Cashen-Harris (Wilston Grange)

Cashen-Harris had a mixed bag of a day with some very nice highlights, but also a few mistakes. His strengths are his pressure and speed, which he combines to run down opponents or force turnovers. While he is not a huge accumulator, he just competes throughout the day, and an example of that was in the opening term where while fighting against two opponents, he brought the ball to ground and across the boundary line safely for a throw-in. He tended to fumble a little at ground level and sometimes would rush his kicks, but he is good in marking contests in terms of his positioning and body work.

In an example of his game, Cashen-Harris won the ball on the forward side of the wing, then took off, but had a free option 30m out from goal and went long to the one-on-one contest which was marked by the defender. It still got the ball to a dangerous spot, but it was just the surveying the area and working out the best option, rather than the more predictable one as such. Nonetheless, his strength in the air saw him pull down a great contested mark leading out up forward, protecting the ball drop and then converting the set shot less than two minutes into the final term. A bit more consistency and there is some definite positives.

Aidan Fyfe (Broadbeach)

The Gold Coast Suns Academy member did not quite have the same ball-winning numbers as his Northern Academy Series efforts, but he had a number of memorable highlights, particularly in the final term when he won a number of possessions in the back half. He was often found running from defence to midfield with some slick handballs, taking a number of bounces down the wing and kicking long inside 50 to the danger zone. The majority of his disposals would have come in the final term, which included a nice left-foot kick from half-back to open up space on the wing. Picking up plenty of intercept possessions in the last 30 minutes, he showed good hands and solid defensive pressure, including stopping a Maroochydore player in his tracks at half-forward and winning the ball back for his side.

Josh Gore (Broadbeach)

If you wanted to find a DVD on how to play a small forward’s game, then Gore’s performance against Maroochydore was the perfect example. He booted five goals and just continually got to the right spots. The knock has come on being pigeonholed as a small forward, but considering what he was able to do on the weekend, he has the traits to adapt that at any level. The only knock in the game you could have for Gore was a little fumbly at times, such as midway through the second term, but both his offensive and defensive traits were on point. Gore also looked for other options inside 50 which is an important trait for a small forward, rather than just eyeing the goals first off, and when the position presented itself, he was reliable with ball-in-hand around goals.

Of Gore’s five majors, the first game 15 minutes in the opening term when competition leading goalkicker Jordan Moncrieff leapt up in the goalsquare to take the contact and tap back to the loose Gore who kicked the easiest of majors. He made it two late in the term when he received the handball following hard running and snapped around his body 20m out. A third goal came late in the final term on the back of fast ball movement inside 50 and good positioning from Gore to mark uncontested on the lead. He had a chance midway through the quarter but was tackled as he snapped. It was positive to see a good second effort as he bounced up and tackled Carter Michael, letting him know about it too. His final two goals came in the third term, one off a well read bounce into his lap which he goaled with ease, while the final game with another snap around his body after working his opponent under the footy and taking one step before sending it home.

Carter Michael (Maroochydore)

In a tough day at the office, the Brisbane Lions Academy member produced a really strong, consistent performance off half-back, trying to create something for his team in a defence that was often under-siege. It was quite literally one-way traffic for the majority of the match, but Michael was one of the few who could leave the game knowing he had done just about all he could on the day. Tasked with the kickout duties, he often played on and put the ball 60-plus metres out of the defensive zone, and positioned himself well in the back 50. Aside from a quieter second term, Michael was often prolific one-on-one or dropping back into the hole and intercepting a Cats forward thrust.

He used the ball well coming off half-back, and had a lovely left-foot piecing kick down the middle, avoiding using too many lateral possessions, and sensing the importance of rolling the dice and taking the game on. He did have a poor kick coming out late in the first term that went straight to the opposition for a goal, but as a whole, he hit most of his targets. Michael’s metres gained stat would be quite high, and he set up a rare goal with a nice handball to Lochie Laing in the last term. Overall his game was quite impressive and it is always hard to standout in a 15-goal loss.

Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise)

When a player kicks half a dozen goals, and almost the equivalent of that in behinds, it is hard to not enjoy the show. He has a nice combination of strength and speed where he can win the ball on the lead or in a one-on-one contest. At one stage he had all of his team’s goals, and four of the Demons’ five at half-time. What makes Pescud so damaging is he can kick goals in a number of ways, and do it consistently as well. The other forwards often cleared out to give him space and he stayed back almost like a lone striker in soccer, then would burst out, or get the position he needed in a marking contest and duly delivered. If there was an improvement to come out of the game, it would definitely be keeping mindful of other options as there was a couple of times where he had the chance to give off the handball but threw it on the boot quickly for a behind. An example of this was late in the fist term where he was one-on-one, grabbed the ball as he was about to tackle, had time to give the handball off with his teammate to run into an open goal, but just rushed and chucked it on the boot.

Looking at his six majors, the first two came in the opening term, with a strong leap, one-grab clunk eight and a half minutes into the quarter with a 30m set shot on a slight angle sailing home. His second came two minutes later when he ripped the ball off the deck at ground level to put ball to boot and snap truly from 20m out. His third came early in the second quarter with another snap after wrestling the ball back, then kicked his fourth at the other end of the term with a huge flying intercept grab between opponents who tried to cross the forward 50, converting the 40m set shot. He should have had at least five at the half, with a set shot 30m out jumping over the fence to retrieve the ball, but his set shot missed. He saluted with his fifth 17 minutes into the third after missing a rushed shot earlier in the term, showing good positioning, leading out and marking 35m out to convert. A 50m penalty brought him to within similar range late in the premiership quarter, but he surprisingly missed that chance, but brought up his half dozen nine minutes into the last, when he marked 15m out from goal and popped through the major to hand his team the lead, kicking six of the then eight goals.

Bailey Reeves (Broadbeach)

Starting on a wing, the Gold Coast Academy member played his role throughout the match and probably ended as one of the better Cats in the big win. He won plenty of the ball and always looked to move it on quickly, particularly by hand between the wing and half-forward. He teamed up with Aidan Fyfe on a number of occasions, and was also strong defensively, laying a shepherd to enable his teammate to get the ball forward and then had a shot on goal himself that was pinched by Clay Cameron on the line in that third term. Throughout the match, Reeves had an influence on the game, won it in transition and set up a number of scoring plays.

A few examples of his highlights were a strong intercept mark seven minutes into the first term where he kicked long inside 50 that led to a chain of handballs and eventually a goal. He showed quick hands on a number of occasions at half-forward, and was generally reliable, though did turn it over by hand once in pressure. He hit up Moncrieff a couple of times, once in the opening term – which the big man missed – then again in the final term which the competition’s leading goalkicker made no mistake this time. Occasionally he would kick long and a defender would intercept, but his low short passes were more effective when eyeing off forward 50 targets. He had a flying shot himself 12 minutes into the last term but it just sprayed to the left. Winning plenty of it in the last quarter, he showed great run and carry through the middle and with the use of his hands, set up another Broadbeach goal.

QAFL ROUND 7 RESULTS:

Labrador 6.9 (45) defeated by Palm Beach Currumbin 14.11 (95)
Mt Gravatt 3.5 (23) defeated by Morningside 16.7 (103)
Surfers Paradise 9.11 (65) defeated Wilston Grange 9.8 (62)
Broadbeach 17.18 (120) defeated Maroochydore 4.2 (26)

Picture: RF Photography

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