IN a huge round of Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) action, the top two teams have secured their spots on the ladder heading into the final round of the season where they will face off for the minor premiership. Both Broadbeach and Morningside remain undefeated but that will change in Round 9 when they go head-to-head to determine who finishes on top of the table.
At the other end of the ladder, it looks like the top six sides are also locked in barring a huge loss in the final round, with Surfers Paradise now needing a massive percentage boost to jump into sixth, with Labrador and Wilston Grange ruled out being eight points behind sixth. Of the Round 8 results, Morningside’s 52-point thumping of Palm Beach Currumbin was the most impressive, while Broadbeach smacked Wilston Grange to the tune of 93 points. In the slightly closer games, Sherwood was too good for Surfers Paradise (28 points), and Maroochydore got the better of Labrador (26).
For this week, we focused on some of the outstanding Northern Academy members running around in the QAFL for the various sides in the four matches.
Maroochydore 9.13 (67) defeated Labrador 6.5 (41)
Morningside 16.17 (113) defeated Palm Beach Currumbin 9.7 (61)
Sherwood 12.13 (85) defeated Surfers Paradise 8.9 (57)
Wilston Grange 4.7 (31) defeated Broadbeach 18.16 (124)
Maroochydore vs. Labrador – Tom Cheesman
Morningside vs. Palm Beach Currumbin – Tom Cheesman
Wilston Grange vs. Broadbeach – Peter Williams
Tahj Abberley (Wilston Grange) [Brisbane Lions]
Had another standout game for the Gorillas and just keeps winning the ball through the middle with ease. His attack on the ball and his quick disposal work in his favour, while his tackling pressure, and more specifically his technique are what makes him a tough player to shake even for much bigger opponents. Abberley’s ability to bounce up after being poleaxed is admirable, and he has just about the highest work rate going around. In terms of his disposal, he is more impactful when handballing to space, or being a link in the chain going forward running down the ground. When he is up and running, he is a huge metres-gained player, so has the advantage of often running 30-odd metres before kicking long down the ground and get it well out of the danger zone. His reading of the taps from the stoppage is also a highlight of his game, but his willingness to compete and keep it moving was great.
Shatna Cashen-Harris (Wilston Grange) [Brisbane Lions]
A raw prospect who hits the contest at a million miles an hour. His closing speed is worrying for an opposition player with the ball, and he spreads well around the ground to win it in space. His tackling is first class and when inside 50, he has the goal sense to be clever, such as a nice snap off the left eight minutes into the third quarter, which was unfortunately marked on the line. He did set up the first goal of the match by lowering his eyes and hitting up Angus O’Brien. As mentioned, Cashen-Harris is still a raw prospect because his kicking at times can be inconsistent and float in and out of games at times, but of his matches this year, it would definitely be up there with one of his more consistent efforts. Cashen-Harris can often also win free kicks for opponents holding onto him, knowing he has the breakaway speed to shake off opponents.
Blake Coleman (Morningside) [Brisbane Lions]
Coleman is one of the most exciting draft prospects to watch and had another fantastic performance in this clash. The Brisbane Lions Academy member spent a lot of time up forward, where he provided a great option for teammates coming out of defence and up the wings. Coleman has a good size and looked dangerous in marking contests, as he regularly used his athleticism to rise above opposition players and get his hands to the ball first. He always forced a second defender to go with him in the air to bring the ball to ground, thus creating more space for crumbers at his feet. Coleman also rolled through the midfield in short bursts, and his clearance work was definitely a highlight. He won many clearances and provided an electric moment in the first term where he burst through the front of a stoppage on the wing, collected the ball cleanly, took a bounce and then delivered a beautifully-weighted long kick to the advantage of his key forward. There was nothing Palm Beach’s defence could do in this situation and it was a great example of how unstoppable Coleman can be when in full flight. Around the ball he used quick hands effectively and laid some strong aggressive tackles, including a bone-crunching spear tackle in the second term. He can improve defensively with regards to running back and stopping opponents from getting cheap handballs around the back, but his work rate at stoppages was good. Coleman kicked two goals for the day, which were an amazing drop punt from the boundary and a clever snap around his body out of congestion. The youngster has the explosiveness and X-factor that many recruiters look for in draft prospects, and he will only get better with more experience at senior level.
Nathan Colenso (Morningside) [Gold Coast Suns]
Colenso played all across the ground for Morningside and did not seem out of place in any position. He started at half-back and played the role of positioning himself out the back of stoppages so that he could apply strong defensive pressure on attacking opposition midfielders. This was highlighted by a fantastic run-down tackle in the first quarter, which caused a turnover. He then pushed up onto a wing, and in this position he dropped into holes well and always looked to centralise the ball whenever he got the opportunity. Colenso was also clean in congestion and showed courage by taking a mark running back with the flight in the third term. He spent more time up forward throughout the second half, where he used his strong tackling ability to apply pressure and used his size to provide a good option for teammates going inside 50.
Saxon Crozier (Morningside) [Brisbane Lions]
Crozier spent most of his time on the wing and had a solid performance against Palm Beach Currumbin. He was composed ball in hand, clean below his knees and delivered some fantastic long kicks inside 50. Crozier often got involved in switches of play and worked hard to ensure his side controlled possession across the wings. In the air he usually made a good contest and regularly provided an option for teammates coming out of defence. The two main highlights of his game were a strong mark down the line in the second term, and a nice goal on the run after taking a bounce in the third term. Although Crozier did make some mistakes, he showed some very promising signs.
Aidan Fyfe (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns]
He does not need a lot of touches to really hurt the opposition, because like Abberley, he is a metres gained player. Fyfe looks to run and carry or take the game on at every opportunity, and is a good size coming off half-back. He can push up to a wing to impact and hold a firm line as an interceptor behind the play. One-on-one he can match it with most and has the athleticism to spin out of trouble as he did in the first term by turning his opponent inside out and kicking inside 50. Sometimes Fyfe can do a bit much with ball-in-hand, and had a Hollywood handball behind his head that missed the target but was luckily cleaned up, but the next overuse by hand was coughed up and turned over trying to run down the middle. Nonetheless, it is Fyfe’s ability to move the ball in transition and run down the wing that sets him apart. He took a couple of bounces in the third term and his movement helped set up a Josh Gore goal. In the final term, Fyfe intercepted off half-back with another one-on-one mark and then hit the scoreboard himself in the 12th minute, intercepting at half-forward this time, taking a run and launching from just inside 50 for it to sail home.
Josh Gore (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns]
Had another solid game playing as a small forward in a big win, and mostly took his chances when they came. He worked up to the wing at times and while he was still a bit fumbly at ground level when under pressure, once he is able to control the ball, he rarely wastes an opportunity. He did well in the first term to gather the ball under pressure and fire out the handball to a teammate, then led out and marked inside 50 to convert his first major of the game from a set shot. His second came 14 minutes into the next term, when he chucked it on his preferred left following a handball receive and did not mind it with an equally-fitting goal celebration to put his team up. Later in the term he looked like creating some magic off the back of some great defensive pressure – corralling an opponent and tackling him over the boundary line and winning the free kick – only to put the ball out on the full from 50m. His third goal was what you could describe as his bread and butter, roving the ball off hands inside 50, Gore reacted quicker than his opponents, got goal side and with an open goalsquare put it through. He had another chance late in the term but his set shot drifted and fell short, then had a final term chance close to goal but copped a “Jack Crisp-like” bounce which went behind him and the defence were able to save the day.
Carter Michael (Maroochydore) [Brisbane Lions]
Michael is one of Brisbane’s leading Academy prospects and he gave Lions fans more reasons to be excited in Maroochydore’s 26-point victory. He spent time at half-back and on the wing, where he worked hard to facilitate switches of play and provide an attacking option for teammates. Sometimes Michael’s hard running went unrewarded, but this did not bother him and he never stopped creating an option, which was a great sign. At stoppages, Michael positioned himself well (usually at the back) and attacked the ball whenever it went near him. He was frequently willing to put his head over the footy, take contact and then give quick hands on the up to teammates. Michael rarely fumbled all day, which was fantastic because it showed how comfortable he is at senior level against the stronger bodies. When in the defensive 50, Michael used his booming left foot kick to clear the area and launch some fast attacking transitions for his side. He did have one bad turnover in the last term kicking across goal, but he usually keeps his kicks flat so that they get to his intended targets very quickly and cannot be intercepted. Michael also applied some strong tackling pressure throughout the match, earning a holding the ball decision in the second term for his efforts.
Rhys Nicholls (Labrador) [Gold Coast]
Gold Coast Academy prospect Nicholls was one of the best players for Labrador on Saturday. He found plenty of footy in the first quarter when Maroochydore did most of the attacking, and this set the tone for an outstanding performance. His run off half-back was highly impressive, as he used his express pace to break-away from opponents and create some link-up play with teammates. Nicholls is very evasive and willing to take the game on, and although this meant he got himself into pressure situations at times, his pace and agility got him out of these predicaments more often than not. After getting caught holding the ball late in the second term, one of Nicholls’ coaches (or fans) was overheard saying, “head up Rhys, that’s what we want.” I thought this was great because, being a young player, Nicholls could have otherwise dropped his head after this incident, but instead he continued to take the game on and provide some much-needed run for his side. Nicholls’ spearing left foot kick was very effective and he took some nice intercept marks in defence. He also attacked the footy with aggression, followed up his possessions and applied strong defensive pressure whenever required. Nicholls is a great size for his position and skillset, so he should have a bright future.
Bailey Reeves (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns]
Reeves aided Fyfe as one of the better players on the day, predominantly for his ability to clear the defensive zone with his long raking kick. He always looked to switch play on a number of occasions, and was strong one-on-one such as his intercept mark in the first term. A terrific tackle on the slippery Cashen-Harris allowed Reeves to win the ball back for his side, and in the second term, his long bomb inside 50 set up a goal to Clay Cameron. Given Reeves’ ability to penetrate inside 50, he can afford to bomb long and put it to 15m out and worry defenders into punching which then brings Broadbeach’s crumbers – such as Gore – into play. His strength on the inside of the contest was great, showing his ability to rip the ball away from an opposition player and kick forward. While he has a tendency at times when under pressure to rush his disposal, he will often follow up with a second effort to apply pressure to the opponent or help out a teammate. He had a crack off the right with a snap from 50m good enough but just missed to the right. Reeves had quite a number of inside 50s and pressure acts on the day, and overall had an impressive performance for the Cats.
By: Fraser Stewart
Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise) [Gold Coast Suns]
The QAFL Player Focus is chosen prior to the round and after his six-goal haul last week, Pescud was picked as the player to watch for Round 8. Unfortunately things did not go his or the Demons’ way for the exciting Gold Coast Suns forward, who kicked just one major this time after 12 goals in four games. Nonetheless, here’s how Fraser Stewart saw his performance:
Plying his trade at full-forward did not get much use of the ball in the first quarter as he did not quite get the service he needed to have an early impact on the game or on the scoreboard. He got a few touches here and there, but nothing of significant notice as he was relatively quiet. He nearly had a score assist after giving out a handball when he was being tackled, however his teammate sprayed his shot wide and went in for a behind, apart from that he could not really get going.
After being shut down for most of the first quarter, there were signs that he was starting to come to life, as he got more hands on the football, as well as moving up the ground to be around the contests more. He showed more desire to try and have an impact on the game, especially after kicking six goals last week, as he freed up space and made more of an effort leading for marks. His work paid off as he earned himself a set shot at goal midway through the second quarter after collecting a mark on the lead, however, his set shot went wide as he scored a behind.
Started the third quarter leaving his full forward position to be on the wing in a bid to try and impact the game on his terms. He set up an attacking play on the left wing as he wanted to play on quickly which led to a behind, apart from that he was quiet. Ventured up forward late in the third quarter, and after the Surfers Paradise Demons cut open the Sherwood Magpies defence as they went through the corridor, he finally kicked his first goal of the afternoon and his first for the game running into an open goal and kicking it on the goalline.
Went back to where he started the game at full-forward but once again he did not get the service he needed as the Sherwood Magpies nullified his impact. Early in the quarter he got caught holding the ball but made amends when he went in for his second effort and smothered the free kick. He tried to make things happen midway through the quarter to try and spark a demons attack as he collected a loose ball from a stoppage but managed to kick behind. He ventured down back in the later stages of the fourth term and got his hands on the footy a few more times to limit the scoring of the Sherwood Magpies.
Picture: RF Photography