Tag: maroochydore

Draft hopeful Harmer looks to find “the best of both worlds”

IN the air and on the ground. Intercept marking combined with run-and-carry. That’s the kind of impact Maroochydore prospect Maggie Harmer aims to make across half-back. The versatile talent is in line to become one of the first Brisbane Lions Academy products called out on draft night, and has a pair of senior defenders to look up to.

Come July 27, Kate Lutkins and Nat Grider could go from idols to teammates for Harmer, who is hoping to harness their respective strengths in order to get “the best of both worlds” as a player.

“Kate has such a good intercept mark and Nat has also got that run-and-carry which is really good, so it’s the best of both worlds between them,” Harmer said.

With the long-term goal of simply improving as a player in mind, the 18-year-old recognises her strengths, but also her areas for improvement.

“Across half-back, (my strengths are) reading the play and taking intercept marks when the opposition is looking for those forward 50 entries and trying to cut off those long kicks,” Harmer said.

“I’m more of an (aerial) player, so my ground balls are always something I’ve wanted to work on, just clean pick-ups. Also my one-on-one contests, holding my own up against those bigger girls.”

Harmer has earned a raft of opportunities since being introduced to Australian football in her final years of primary school, culminating in AFLW Academy honours, Under 19 All Australian selection, and the opportunity to represent her state throughout 2021.

Harmer kicks Queensland forward during this year’s National Championships

Above all else, Harmer says the opportunity to test her skills and be challenged by the nation’s best talent provided some valuable tests and lessons.

“I didn’t think it was going to be that much of a flogging (against Vic Country),” she said. “But the score didn’t really represent the contest.

“(AFLW Academy training) is big challenge because it’s another step to what we’re used to at club training and even academy. But I think it really pushes you to be the best player you can be and try to keep up with those older girls that are playing at such a high level.”

In their only National Championships dig for 2021, Queensland’s Under 19s went down to Vic Country by 54 points down in Melbourne, but Harmer was able to showcase some of her best traits with 15 disposals, five marks and five tackles.

Her ability to turn attack into defence with that aforementioned intercept game, as well as positive forward running makes Harmer a productive type. Queensland talent manager Mark Browning also gave a glowing review, boding well not just for draft night, but for her impact on the game in years to come.

“She’s probably the one that excites me the most when she trains,” Browning said. “It hasn’t quite transpired to games yet, but I think she’s got the most natural running out of all of them.”

Smith taking things “week by week”

POWERFUL prospect Bella Smith has proven herself as one of Queensland’s top draft chances in 2021, but is taking a steady mindset into next week’s big day. The Maroochydore midfielder has been aligned with the Brisbane Lions Academy and there are plenty of former ‘Roos to look towards for inspiration in the same pathway.

“At this point in time I’m just taking everything week by week and just trying to play well in my QAFL games,” Smith said during the season. “But the end goal is definitely to get drafted.”

As a member of this year’s AFLW Academy intake, Smith has picked up plenty of elite standards along the way and got the chance to meet up with her fellow academy members earlier in the year. Queensland’s Under 19 Championships clash with Vic Country also served as a handy “experience”, with Smith notching 14 disposals and five marks despite her side’s 54-point loss.

“It was an interesting game,” she said. “I was very excited for it all, but at the end of the day they were definitely a better side than us. It was still a great experience and good to see friends that we’ve known from the (AFLW) Academy as well.

“(The Academy) is awesome. It’s such a good experience to get around girls that are like-minded. We got to catch up all together not too long ago down in Melbourne.”

At that point in time, Smith had hoped the national academy would be able to play their then-postponed game together, though it never came to fruition. Instead, she honed her craft back home with Maroochydore in a QAFLW campaign which yielded a finals win.

Described by Queensland Talent Manager Mark Browning as a “very, very tough inside mid (who) loves the contest”, Smith says strength and power are her go-to traits. While she is a terrific handler and distributor on the inside, she is still working on her outside game and improving the all-important fundamentals of kicking.

“(I’m looking to improve on) everything really,” Smith said. ” But I’ve been working a lot on my kicking. I’ve been doing work outside of training with Enhanced Football, he’s been helping me over the season on my kicking.”

Cracking the next level would mark another great chapter in Smith’s footballing story, which began at eight years old when she topped up for her brother’s local side.

The likes of Belle Dawes and Lily Postlethwaite have already stepped up from Maroochydore to the Brisbane Lions’ AFLW squad, can Smith be the next Roo to bounce to the bigtime?

QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

DESPITE a loss in their Round 13 QAFLW fixture against the undefeated Bond University, AFLW Academy and Brisbane Lions Academy members, Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith, put in strong performances to further solidify their placing as two of the most promising Queensland prospects for the upcoming AFLW Draft. Having both impressed in the recent U19 AFLW Championship fixture against Vic Country, Harmer as a defender and Smith more through the midfield, Brisbane fans will be more than happy to see the two of them make the step up.

>> MIKAYLA PAUGA PLAYER FOCUS

PLAYER PROFILE:

MAGGIE HARMER | MAROOCHYDORE
12/04/2003 | DEFENDER

Making a name for herself as a reliable defender, who plays well above her 170cm height against taller opponents, Harmer is perhaps most well known for her aerial work and clean ball use out of the defensive 50. In the recent Under 19s AFLW National Championships match against Vic Country, she took five marks in the defensive half on her way to getting named in the best, being trusted with kick ins duty for majority of the game.

BELLA SMITH | MAROOCHYDORE
5/10/2003 | UTILITY

Able to fill a role in all thirds of the ground, Smith credits her strength as one of her best traits, but also shows great speed and ball winning ability. It is clear to see why she is able to impact in all areas of the ground. Racking up 14 disposals in the recent U19 AFLW National Championships match against Vic Country, Smith was one of the better users of the ball, often looking to switch play, highlighting her footy smarts.

 

Q1:

Harmer

Stationed in her usual role in the defensive 50, Harmer was involved early on as she spoiled a few marks around the 50-metre mark, not being afraid of running off her opponent to create an outnumber. Harmer’s ball use was often strong, generally handballing to a runner from behind rather than kicking to 50/50 options.

Harmer finished the quarter with 3 Kicks, 3 Handballs and 1 Mark in a very respectable first term where she had some crucial moments with her ball use out of the defensive 50 and work rate to create contests.

Smith

Starting the quarter in the defensive half as a player that pressured opponents well and forced some turnovers for teammates to take advantage of, whilst Smith was good in defensive 50, it was when she got her rotation into the midfield where she thrived, often in the best spot to win clearances and making herself an option as a switch kick to open up the game going forward.

Coming out of the first term with 3 Kicks, 2 Handballs, 1 Mark and 1 Centre Clearance Smith was more involved than her stats suggest, applying pressure and keeping her opponent accountable as a midfielder.

 

Q2:

Harmer

Again in the backline with Maroochydore under a little bit more pressure than the previous quarter, Harmer took majority of the kick ins, where she would run out and kick the ball past the front of the centre square, even taking a bounce at one stage in a remarkable show of confidence. She gave away a harsh free kick for in the back early in the quarter.

Collected 3 Kicks, 1 Handball, 1 Tackle, 1 FA in the second quarter, continuing to create outnumbers in the defensive 50 to stop Bond University scoring as much as they could have.

Smith

Got involved in the same ways off the ball she did in the first quarter, applying pressure on opponents with the ball to force them to rush disposals and not hit targets. Despite not landing a couple of tackles she never let it get her confidence down, working continually hard and eventually getting rewarded later in the quarter, catching an opponent for holding the ball.

Finished the quarter with 2 Kicks, 3 Tackles and 1 FF she wasn’t quite as prolific in collecting the ball in the second, but looked even more dangerous in the second with her tackling and pressure work.

Bella Smith running away from her opponent.

Q3:

Harmer

Harmer moved up to be the sole kick-in player for Maroochydore, doing the same work as in the second quarter with her running out of the square and looking to get the ball far up the ground. She did the same audacious bounce as the previous quarter, but unfortunately got caught by an opponent when it slipped past her, doing well not to concede a free kick.

Getting 3 Kicks, 1 Handball and 1 Mark, for the quarter, with her four disposals all being effective ones and fairly damaging, and seemingly learning from her mistake with the bounce, she adjusted and did not attempt it again.

Smith

A move into a midfield and forward line split rather than the backline paid dividends for Smith in the third, winning more of the ball and being a driving force in getting Maroochydore forward with her ball use and ability to get around opponents. Seemingly gained more confidence around stoppages the longer she spent in the midfield.

Ending the quarter with 4 Kicks, 1 Handball, 1 Mark, 1 Centre Clearance and 1 Clearance, Smith saw a good return stats wise for her extended time in the midfield, without seeing a drop in her pressure work either

Q4:

Harmer

With the game coming to a close and Bond University looking increasingly likely to win, Harmer never dropped her effort, seeing her end as one of the more vital players for Maroochydore, with her ball use getting better and better as the game went on. With just the one blemish for the quarter being another harsh in the back call.

4 Kicks, 2 Handballs, 1 Mark and 1 Free Against, was the return for Harmer in the final quarter, which was arguably her best performance across the game, linking up well with teammates to keep Bond from scoring as much as they could have.

Smith

Looking increasingly more confident on the inside of the contest and around stoppages, especially in the forward half, with her pinpoint handballing leading to inside 50s and scoring opportunities.

The final quarter return for Smith was 1 Kick, 3 Handballs and 1 Clearance, with most of her work done in the forward half, she still applied that pressure she had shown through the whole game.

Maggie Harmer looking to make a lead at half-back.

SUMMARY:

Harmer: 20 Disposals, 12 Kicks, 8 Handballs, 3 Marks, 2 FA

Getting a high return for a defender, especially one that often played deep, Harmer put in a good performance despite the loss, and her kicks from opposition behinds were often put into good spots to result in inside 50s, with Bond’s team setting up well behind the play to stop that eventuating. Although only holding three marks, she flew for everything that was in her area, showing that with some assistance on her marking technique she’ll be an even bigger aerial threat.

 

Smith: 16 Disposals, 10 Kicks, 6 Handballs, 2 Marks, 3 Tackles, 1 FF, 2 Centre Clearances, 2 Clearances

Being thrown about in all thirds of the ground, Smith was able to maintain a consistent level of pressure, whilst chiming in with quality disposals when she got it. Her strength and speed around stoppages was a big advantage over her opponents, unable to be matched for speed when she locked on to a loose ball. With those strengths, her game is sure to translate well to the next level.

QAFLW Player Focus: Smith’s star quality evident ahead of Coorparoo clash

YOU couldn’t watch Maroochydore’s Round 7 QAFL Women’s match against Aspley and not be amazed by Bella Smith.

From the very first bounce, the hard running midfielder was in everything. From a brutal don’t argue, to a goal saving tackle, the first quarter belonged to Smith, and she didn’t slow down from there. Her spread from a stoppage was excellent as she worked to provide an option for teammates whenever she didn’t have the ball in her hands (which wasn’t too often). She displayed a quality that catches the eye; the ability to grab a game by the collar and make it her own. It’s a talent not seen too often, and one that is likely worrying her Coorparoo opponents ahead of this weekend’s matchup.

Smith is simply a midfielder who does it all. She hunts the footy, she tackles, she runs hard and most importantly, she plays to her strengths. Not a noted goalkicker, Smith often puts in the hard yards getting the ball into the hands of the forwards, allowing them to take the shots. A memorable moment from the first quarter saw Smith spread from the stoppage, receive the ball, then proceed to conjure a Dustin Martin-like fend off that put her opponent the ground. It was a moment that drew a collective gasp from the crowd, as Smith then dished the ball inside 50 to set up a shot on goal for her teammates. It was reflective of her entire day, strength, hard work and a little bit of magic.

She will be a hard player for Coorparoo to contain, simply due to how hard she works from contest to contest. Her coverage of the ground was unmatched by any other midfielder in the Round 7 contest. She works remarkably hard to receive the ball, and when she gets it, her strength and smarts make her quite difficult to tackle. She shrugged off opponents on plenty of occasions, and she always keeps her arms free.

By the time the second quarter rolled around, Aspley midfielders were very cautious of Smith’s ability to impact the stoppage, resulting in Smith having a shot on goal after a holding free went her way. While the attempt unluckily hit the inside of the post, it was a testament to Smith’s ability to make other players worry too much about her and not enough about the ball.

The only visible flaw in her came was her own aerobic undoing, as she looked tired at times, but this was only due to the fact that she had worked so hard previously. Still, when the ball was in dispute, she found another gear and was able to work hard and get to the contest to provide another number for her side. If she continues to put in performances such as the one she displayed in Round 7, it will continue to prove difficult for opposing players to minimise her impact on the game. Not only does she find plenty of the ball, she also damages the other team when she uses it. In the third quarter, she found the ball on the wing and then broke the game open with an excellent inboard kick that found a teammate on the run.

Maroochydore have a star on their hands here with Smith. In Round 7, she affected the contest more than any other player on the ground and was clearly best on ground. This looked like the emergence of a star, and if she can do it again against Coorparoo, she will have established herself as one of the premier midfielders of the competition.

Picture credit: Sunshine Coast Daily

QAFL Women’s weekend wrap: Elimination Finals – Roos and Devils book spots in semis

MAROOCHYDORE and Yeronga South Brisbane are through to the semi-finals after winning their respective elimination finals on the weekend in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) competition. The Roos accounted for University of Queensland by 53 points in a one-sided contest, while the Devils knocked off a title contender in Coorparoo by just nine points.

In what was a low-scoring start, Maroochydore led by just six points at the first break, then piled on four goals to zero in the second term to race out to a 31-point advantage. By the final break the margin was 51 points with a further three goals added to the total. Both sides added two goals in the final term – which included the Red Lionesses only two majors of the game – which meant Maroochydore got up 10.9 (69) to 2.4 (16).

Shannon Campbell booted five goals in the big win for the Roos, as the home side had six individual goalkickers. Also named among the Roos best were Brisbane AFL Women’s young guns, Lily Postlethwaite and Isabel Dawes, as well as Ashleigh Hales, Jacqueline Dupuy and Maggie Harmer. For the Red Lionesses, Dakota Davidson finished her season off with another two goals, while Mia Teubler, Jamie Stone and Nat Grider were all named among the visiting team’s best.

In the other game, Yeronga South Brisbane kicked five goals to zero in the third term to set up a memorable nine-point victory over Coorparoo. The Kings actually led by a point at quarter time and three points at the main break, having edged ahead when the siren sounded in each quarter. That soon changed with the Devils booting 5.2 to 0.1 in the third term to race away to a 28-point lead, and whilst they only managed 0.2 to the Kings’ 3.3, it was a big enough advantage to get home, 8.10 (58) to 7.7 (49).

Lexia Edwards snagged three goals in the win, while Jordan Zanchetta and Emily Bates both kicked a goal apiece and were named among the bests. Also named in the bests were Devils talents, Jade Pregelj, Lauren Arnell, Madison Goodwin and Emmii-Lee Zanker-Close. For the Kings, Tori Groves-Little and Jamie Stanton both snagged two majors, as Tahlia Hickie, Ally Anderson and Jess Wuetschner used their AFL Women’s experience to snag a goal apiece. Meg Muir and Charlotte Edmunds were also named among the Kings best in the loss.

Next week the Devils will face the top of the table Bond University for a spot in the grand final, while the Roos will take on second placed Coolangatta Tweed in the other semi-final.

QAFL WOMEN’S ELIMINATION FINALS RESULTS:

Maroochydore 10.9 (69) defeated University of Queensland 2.4 (16)
Yeronga South Brisbane 8.10 (58) defeated Coorparoo 7.7 (49)

Picture: AFL Queensland

QAFL Player focus: Carter Michael (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

IN our latest edition of the Player Focus, we take a look at how Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Carter Michael fared in Maroochydore’s QAFL Elimination Final against Sherwood. Although his side went down by five points, Michael showed glimpses of why Brisbane fans should be excited about his potential. His strongest asset is his booming left foot kick, which makes him an ideal person to take the kick ins for his side. Most of his disposals in Saturday’s final came from kick ins as a result, but he had some effective moments in general play as well.

Q1:

Despite spending time in the midfield during last week’s clash, Michael started this game on his customary half-back flank. He was in the thick of the action straight away, running past for a handball receive that did not quite him as he would have liked. Once the ball hit the deck, he dove into congestion to cause a stoppage. He started the game with a defensive approach, as he stayed very tight on his opponent and did not run off to provide an attacking option as much as usual. At a stoppage in the defensive 50, Michael won a contested possession but was immediately tackled for a ball up. A few minutes later, he ran hard in transition to pick up a loose ball in defensive 50, got the arms free of an oncoming tackler and dished out a handball.

After a Sherwood behind, Michael took the kick in and used his booming left foot to get the ball to a contest just in behind centre wing, and it trickled over the boundary line. He tried to be more conservative with his next kick in by going short to the pocket, but uncharacteristically he missed his target and it went out on the full. With his next one, Michael chose to go long to a contest down the line. Sherwood kicked 14 points for the match and Michael received 11 or 12 extra kicks as a result.

Late in the quarter, Michael started to get more involved in the game. Shortly after laying a solid tackle in defensive 50 to stop Sherwood’s forward momentum and force a stoppage, he ran around the back of a teammate that received a free kick and delivered a beautiful short pass to a teammate leading up on the wing. When Sherwood next went inside 50, he flew as a third man up into a marking contest to spoil the ball nicely over the boundary line.

Q2:

Michael had a very quiet second term. He took a kick in at the seven-minute mark and went long down the middle and hit ruckman Jacob Simpson lace out. This kick was fantastic because it opened up the game for his side and cleared the defensive zone.

He also had a nice moment where he contested a mark at half-back, collected the ball with one take at ground level and then dished it forwards cleanly to two running teammates. This started a great passage of offensive transition play which resulted in a goal over the back of Sherwood’s defence. Although Michael did not have any impact for the remainder of the quarter, his side was playing well and went into half time with a 10-point lead.

Q3:

Michael took another kick in early in the third where he went long down the line. Although it was marked by the opposition, this was because his teammate did not read the flight of the ball well. From his next kick in a minute later, he went up the middle and found a teammate in the centre square in between three Sherwood players. This was an incredibly difficult kick to pinpoint, yet he had the confidence to go for it (in a tight elimination final, no less) and executed it effectively which was outstanding.

His next kick was from an out-on-the-full free kick in the back pocket, from which he cleared the defensive zone and found a teammate on the wing. Although most of his kicks were great, at this stage they were all coming from behinds or other free kicks, which showed that Michael was struggling to find his own footy in general play.

At the 11-minute mark, Michael ran back to take a nice intercept mark in front of Sherwood’s Zane Lovell. He followed it up by delivering a nice short kick to a teammate on the wing. From his next kick in, Michael smartly ran wide to push the defenders in that direction before pulling his kick straight down the corridor to find teammate Thomas Holt. It was very windy at this point, so Michael’s ability to hit a flat 50 metre kick was very handy for his side coming out of defence.

Michael went up for another intercept mark in defence shortly after, but he and his teammate got in each other’s way. Fortunately for them, the crumber for Sherwood only snapped a behind. With that kick in, he went long to a contest on the wing. A few minutes later, Michael got a handball receive and fumbled it, but cleaned up his own mess and handballed back to an open teammate.

There was a lot of spice in the game late in this quarter, and the ball was consistently locked in Maroochydore’s defensive 50. Sherwood failed to take their chances though, so Michael had a couple more kick ins where he just went long to one-on-one contests on the wing. He and the other defenders held up well under immense pressure and got their side to three quarter time with a 20-point lead.

Picture: RF Photography


Q4:

At the opening centre bounce of the final term, Michael came off the back of the square, collected the ball cleanly, used his pace to break away with a few quick steps and delivered the ball inside 50. This is the type of running play that Michael has done well in the last few weeks but did not do often on Saturday. After the next stoppage, Sherwood got the ball forward but Michael worked back to take the ball cleanly and dish it out the back to a teammate.

From a kick in, Michael found a teammate 50 metres away for an uncontested mark. This was an important kick to hit because Sherwood had just slotted back-to-back goals so his side was under the pump. At the 12-minute mark, Michael gave an important handball over the top to start a link-up chain for his side down the wing. Shortly after, he affected a spoil on his opponent that was leading up at the ball carrier. Michael had two more kick ins where he simply bombed it long down the line to a contest, which was definitely the safest option at the time given that his side was only up by a goal.

When Sherwood kicked another goal and took the lead, Maroochydore’s coaching staff immediately threw Michael into the midfield. This demonstrated how much trust they have in him as a young player, and he rewarded them by having a decent impact in there. He got a couple of quick touches, rushed an important kick forward and applied good body pressure on the opposition. On the back of good midfield work from Michael and others, Maroochydore had multiple shots on goal and took a one point lead late in the quarter. However, they could not capitalise on the hard work by kicking a goal.

Sherwood and former Brisbane Lions player Ryan Harwood then kicked a miraculous goal from a stoppage in Sherwood’s forward pocket to put them five points ahead. A few minutes later, the siren sounded and Sherwood ran out victors in a thriller.

Closing Thoughts:

Competing in an elimination final at League level will prove valuable experience for Michael, as this level of football is not something that many young prospects get exposed to. His skills were typically outstanding throughout the game, and there is no doubt that his left foot will be a major weapon at any level of football that he plays. He has shown in recent weeks that he is also a good contested player, but he did not get many opportunities to showcase this on Saturday. In saying that, it was great to see Michael get some midfield time late in the contest after his inspired bursts in that role last weekend. Although half-back is probably his strongest position at this stage, he has a great size and speed that could help him become a very effective midfielder in the years to come.

For more news and updates about the AFL Draft, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors weekend preview – Elimination Finals

AFTER nine regular season rounds, finals time has arrived in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL), with the top six sides set to battle it out for premiership glory. Week one provides a pair of elimination finals, as Sherwood (4th, 4-4) hosts Maroochydore (5th, 4-4), while Palm Beach Currumbin (3rd, 6-2) takes on Mt Gravatt (6th, 3-5). Undefeated minor premier Broadbeach and second-placed Morningside (7-1) await in the semi finals stage, and have both earned a week off.

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central narrows its focus to the young guns who will look to make a splash on the big stage this weekend. Get to know the prominent Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy players set to take the field, as well as the other young prospects who have impressed over the course of the season.

Elimination Final 1:

Sherwood vs. Maroochydore
Saturday, September 12 | 2:00pm
McCarthy Homes Oval

Two sides with identical records will do battle as Sherwood takes on Maroochydore in the first elimination final, set to play out at McCarthy Homes Oval. The clash serves as somewhat of a reverse fixture to the clubs’ Round 6 meeting, which the ‘Roos won by 31 points on home turf. Despite that result, it’s the Magpies who hold a superior ladder position on account of their percentage buffer.

Bruce Reville is a name which jumps off the hosts’ team sheet, named at half-forward. An over-aged Brisbane Lions Academy member, Reville ran out in this year’s Academy Series in between his five outings for Sherwood. Listed at 185cm, Reville is a smooth moving and versatile prospect who can play both sides of midfield, and find the goals while stationed up forward. He proved as much with two goals against Labrador last week and his run-and-carry could serve to open up the contested nature of finals football.

Fellow Lions Academy products Jack Briskey and Connor Bulley have both been named as emergencies for the Magpies, while former academy ruckman Samson Ryan has been tasked with the ruck duties. Briskey, a promising athlete with raw potential, faces a fight to squeeze back into the side despite recently earning a National Combine invite.

Potentially a matchup for Reville on Maroochydore’s side is Carter Michael, one of the leading Lions AFL Draft prospects in 2020. The 187cm left-footer moves well and while he may start on the wing, can also move to half-back or into the midfield. Another couple of academy products will line up for the ‘Roos, with 19-year-old bigman Max McDonald named on the bench, while top-ager Ben Thomas slots in at half-back for just his third game at the level in 2020.

This game promises to be a cracker, with both sides evenly matched across the park and some young talent primed to make an impact. With even more prospects waiting in the wings for a late change, all of the aforementioned players could prove game-changers for either side.

Elimination Final 2:

Palm Beach Currumbin vs. Mt Gravatt
Saturday, September 12 | 2:00pm
Salk Oval

Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) will fancy its chances of advancing into week two of finals, but can take nothing for granted as Mt Gravatt comes to town. The Lions are the top-ranked side in action this week, and come up against the only finalist with a negative record. The Vultures will be up against it, especially given they went down to PBC by 48 points just last week.

18-year-old Liam O’Brien is among the young Lions to be taking the field, named alongside former Suns Academy midfielder Ashton Crossley on the bench. O’Brien is a state Under 16 representative who can craft on the outside, while Crossley provides a big body on the inside. The Lions have also named Riley Buckland, a promising 19-year-old who has played into some great late-season form and retains his senior spot. Ethan Hunt was not so lucky, listed as an emergency after seven top flight appearances.

Diminutive, but tough Lions Academy bottom-agers Lochlan Harrop and Sam Winterbottom are both set to line up for Mt Gravatt, named in the midfield and forwardline respectively. Harrop should bring some good hardness and versatility to the fore, while Winterbottom is a classy small who could wreak havoc inside 50. Others around the academy traps to be named include Ethan Kerr (interchange) and Zac Young (half-forward). While the deck is stacked against Mt Gravatt, the Vultures’ young talent should benefit from the finals experience, and give it a red-hot crack against good opposition. The Lions’ experience depth bode well for them after a solid regular season. They’ll be raring to go.

Featured Image: PBC’s Ashton Crossley gets a kick away | Credit: Jerad Williams/Gold Coast Bulletin

QAFL Women’s weekend preview: Elimination Finals – Roos and Devils earn hosting rights

FINALS fever is here in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition, with Maroochydore and University of Queensland facing off, before Yeronga South Brisbane and Coorparoo do battle. For the losers, it is season over, while for the winners, preliminary finals dates with Bond University and Coolangatta Tweed await.

MAROOCHYDORE vs. UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND

The third placed Maroochydore hosts the sixth placed University of Queensland in the opening game of the round, with the winner set to play second place Coolangatta Tweed in the semi-finals. Finishing the season with seven wins, three losses and two draws, Maroochydore will be the clear favourite compared to the Red Lionesses who finished the QAFL Women’s season with three wins, eight losses and a draw.

Prior to the COVID-19 postponement, Maroochydore raced out of the blocks to win all three of its games – including a thriller against the Red Lionesses – then by Round 5 had four wins and a draw to its name. They stumbled a little over the next few rounds with losses to Coolangatta Tweed, Coorparoo and Yeronga South Brisbane around a precautionary draw with top of the table Bond University. A nine-point win over the Red Lionesses gave the Roos confidence again and they went on to finish the season with a three-game winning streak, smashing Aspley Hornets 95-0 to grab third spot on percentage, and then taking care of Wilston Grange, 43-9.

The University of Queensland had the opposite start to the season as Maroochydore, dropping all three games prior to the break, and losing by a narrow two points to Yeronga South Brisbane in the first game back in Round 4. They clicked into gear with impressive wins over Wilston Grange and Aspley Hornets to look like a team on the move up the ladder. Unfortunately for Red Lionesses fans, that was a false mirage as they only won one of the last six games, and that was against the Hornets by four points – the closest the Hornets came to a win. Despite this, the University of Queensland can take plenty out of two narrow losses to the Roos, knowing they match up well and would have been their preferred opponent out of the other top four teams.

Shannon Campbell finished the year with 13 goals in nine games, and was among the best on multiple occasions, Mikayla Pauga remains a huge best and fairest chance, averaging a goal a game and named in the best every second game on average from her 12 matches. Ashleigh Hales (six goals), Chloe Gregory (five), Jacqueline Dupuy (five) and Jennifer Carden-David (five) have also been consistent sources of goals this year. Maggie Harmer‘s seven bests from 11 games has her with the most consistent performances this season for the green and golds, while Brisbane Lions young gun, Lily Postlethwaite has six with Pauga. Others who have shone include Ruby McDowell (five), Bella Smith (four), Isabel Dawes (four) and Tayla Gesch (four).

Dakota Davidson has been the clear standout in front of goal, snagging 13 majors in nine games, named in the best on three occasions for the Red Lionesses. Greta Bodey has not played in a month, but prior to that she kicked eight goals in five games, while Megan Hunt – potentially leading the club’s best and fairest with seven bests – has six majors. Sophie Ure (four goals) has also been productive in her nine games. Aside from Hunt, players further up the field have also been named among the best many times, including Jane Childes and Mikayla Martin (both six). Jamie Stone has five bests ahead of Alexandra Moran, Breanna Koenen, Mia Teubler and Sara-Jane O’Grady who all have four.

Maroochydore go in as strong favourites on recent form, though University of Queensland will have confidence from pushing the Roos twice.

 

YERONGA SOUTH BRISBANE vs. COORPAROO

In the second match on Saturday, fourth placed Yeronga South Brisbane plays host to fifth placed Coorparoo for the right to take on minor premiers, Bond University in the preliminary finals. There is not much separating both these sides on the ladder, with the Devils snatching the home ground advantage in the final round with a win over the University of Queensland, whilst the Kings went went down to the Sharkettes to drop to fifth. In season 2020, the Devils finished with seven wins, three losses and two draws, while the Kings had the seven wins and five losses, just five points behind.

Yeronga South Brisbane comes into the match off the back of some pretty good form, winning three of the past four games, and that loss came against Bond University a fortnight ago. The Devils have been running hot since the break, starting with a couple of draws in Rounds 4 and 5, then narrowly avoiding a remarkable third draw in a row with a one-point win over Wilston Grange. They found their form again after Round 7’s win over Aspley Hornets, with wins over all the other sides except the top two. In the two matches with Coorparoo, they won in a high scoring Round 1 clash, 69-54, then again three weeks ago, 46-28.

Coorparoo started slowly this season, having a couple of losses in Rounds 1 and 2, then got on the board with a comprehensive 57-point win over Aspley Hornets. Upon returning to the QAFL Women’s, the Kings had the fortune of playing the last placed Hornets again and smashed them by 93 points, a record that would stand until the Roos’ 95-point shellacking over them. They easily accounted for Coolangatta Tweed and looked the team to beat, before falling to Bond University by 21 points in Round 6. From there, the Kings picked up three consecutive wins, before dropping games to both the Devils and Sharkettes in the final three rounds either side of a 40-point triumph over Wilston Grange.

Yeronga South Brisbane shares the goals around with Lexia Edwards (10 goals) averaging a goal a game to lead the Devils in goalkicking this season. Lucy Bellinger is not too far behind with eight goals – five of those in one game against the Hornets – and named among the best four times. Courtney McDonnell (seven), Sam Virgo (seven), Adrienne Keeffe (four) and Madison Goodwin (four) have also been prominent in 2020. Jordan Zanchetta has been the stand out for the Devils, named among the best five times in her 10 games, just ahead of Bellinger, Emily Bates, Jacqueline Yorston and Vanessa Hart who have all earned four bests nominations. Hart has only played the six games since the break, which makes her the in-form player.

For the Kings, the AFL Women’s experience is at the top of the table with Jamie Stanton kicking a competition-high 15 goals to share the leading goalkicker award with Bond University’s Taylor Smith. She has been named in the best on five occasions, and has clearly been the standout and one of the league’s top performers since returning to the Kings’ outfit in July. Also fantastic, Jess Wuetschner has booted 12 goals in eight games, one more than Emma McKenzie (11) and just ahead of Chelsea Chesterfield (10). Kelsey Crosbie who has remarkably not played since March, booted eight goals in three games to remain inside the top five, one ahead of Tori Groves-Little (seven). Jade Ellenger leads all-comers when it comes to bests with eight nominations from 12 games ahead of Stanton’s five, and then a host of experienced players on four such as Ally Anderson, Emma Zielke and Tahlia Hickie.

Yeronga South Brisbane have the form against Coorparoo, but the Kings can never be discounted with the stack of AFL Women’s talent on the list.

QAFL Women’s weekend wrap: Round 11 – Roos skip over Kings with percentage-boosting Hornets win

DESPITE winning by 40 points themselves, Coorparoo has seen Maroochydore not only make up 20 percentage points, but run away to be 16 per cent ahead of the Kings in a whopping 42 per cent swing over the weekend thanks to a 95-point shellacking of last placed Aspley Hornets. Playing at the same timeslot of 4.45pm on Saturday, Coorparoo would have felt pretty confident moving up to third spot on the table after an 11.8 (74) to 5.4 (34) win over Wilston Grange, only to arrive home and see that Maroochydore had kept the Hornets scoreless in a 25-scoring shot demolition of 14.11 (95) to 0.0 (0).

While it is unlikely the Roos will snatch a top two spot despite taking on the Gorillas in the final round – second placed Coolangatta Tweed plays the Hornets – Maroochydore has given itself the best chance of facing sixth placed University of Queensland in the first week of finals, the side that is 14 points adrift of an otherwise tight top five. The Roos were simply clinical all day, piling on at least three goals in every term, with a huge five-goal second term showing how important percentage can be.

Shannon Campbell slammed home five goals in a best on ground effort, while Mikayla Pauga (three goals) and Jennifer Carden-David (three) both had their fair share of majors and were among the best. Brisbane duo Lily Postlethwaite and Isabel Dawes (one goal) were impressive, while Zoe Smith kicked a couple on the day as well. After a few competitive weeks, it was a disappointing round of the Hornets, though Isabella Kotatis stood tall once again, with Kylie Guarino and Anais Kirvan also steadfast in defeat.

In Coorparoo’s comfortable 40-point win over the Gorillas, a 10-goal first half looked like the Kings were going to storm to a massive victory leading by 51-points at half-time. They had booted seven second quarter goals, but could only manage one in the second half, as Wilston Grange went on the attack slotting three consolation goals in the final term to cut the deficit back to 40 by the final siren, 11.8 (74) to 5.4 (34).

Tori Groves-Little booted four goals in the win and was impressive, while regular superstar Jamie Stanton snagged three goals in a best on ground performance. Jenae Govan, Ally Anderson and Tahlia Hickie were also terrific in the win. For the Gorillas, Luka Yoshida-Martin, Catherine Svarc and Rheanne Lugg all booted goals and were named among the best, as were Kristen Tyquin and Eloise Janette O’Connor.

Locking up top spot and sentencing Yeronga South Brisbane to fifth, Bond University produced an impressive second half to run out 29-point winners on the road. It was never easy going, but the Sharkettes came from a point down at the main break to boot 3.4 to 0.2 and record a 4.6 (30) victory. Jess Maher (two goals), Maddison Levi (one) and Taylor Smith (one) all hit the scoreboard, while Lucinda Pullar and Lauren Bella were named among the best. Emily Bates kicked the sole Devils goal in the opening term, but it would not be enough despite the experience of Sam Virgo, Jordan Zanchetta and Lauren Arnell all on the field.

Coolangatta Tweed all but locked up second spot with an impressive 41-point win over University of Queensland. The Bluebirds had to win given their lower percentage compared to their rivals, and they did just that, knowing they have last placed Aspley Hornets in the final round. The Bluebirds were inaccurate at times, but did enough to restrict the scoring of the Red Lionesses, booting 9.14 (68) to 4.3 (27). Leah Kaslar (three goals), Sally Riley (two), Kate Surman (one) and Hannah Martin (one) all were among the best and hit the scoreboard for the winners. Dakota Davidson (two goals) continued her fine form as Megan Hunt (one) also hit the scoreboard, with Nat Grider, Davidson and Jane Childes the standouts in defeat for the visitors.

QAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 11 RESULTS:

Coolangatta Tweed 9.14 (68) defeated University of Queensland 4.3 (27)
Yeronga South Brisbane 1.5 (11) defeated by Bond University 4.6 (30)
Coorparoo 11.8 (74) defeated Wilston Grange 5.4 (34)
Maroochydore 14.11 (95) defeated Aspley Hornets 0.0 (0)

QAFL weekend preview: Round 8 – Last chance saloon for bottom few teams

TWO rounds remain in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) competition, with minimal time for sides to try and squeeze into the top six spots for finals. The top three sides – Broadbeach, Morningside and Palm Beach Currumbin – are locked away for finals and considering percentages, have the top three spots booked. Top two get a week off though, so there is plenty to play for. At the other end of the ladder, Wilston Grange and Labrador can mathematically still make it despite having just one win on the board after seven rounds, but need results to go their way.

There are a number of ladder defining games this weekend starting with Maroochydore and Labrador. The winner will go a long way to booking a finals spot, whilst the loser will be in danger of missing out. For the Tigers in particular, a loss could be deadly, given they have a lower percentage than the fifth placed Sherwood, who would then be the only team Labrador could overtake. Maroochydore can secure a finals spot with a good enough win and build a large enough percentage gap to make it difficult for the sides below the Roos to make it.

Another season-defining clash is between Sherwood and Surfers Paradise which is linked the aforementioned match. If the Magpies get up with the Roos, it will all but lock away the top six spots with a round to play. The Demons showed they are not done with yet, getting a vital win over Wilston Grange last round. They will need to win here to be a realistic chance to defend their title, and if they do, will move up to at least sixth on the table, though a loss – holding the lowest percentage of any of the nine sides – would be fatal for their post-season hopes.

At the other end of the ladder, Morningside hosts Palm Beach Currumbin in the standout match for the round. The pair are fighting over a week off with the Panthers undefeated, but playing the other top two sides in the final fortnight. With Broadbeach next week, Morningside will get a good idea of where it sits in the scheme of things, while Palm Beach Currumbin will be desperate to knock over another contender and take prime position inside the top two. Considering the Lions will have an easier opponent next week, they know they will all but secure a top two spot with a win here, whilst Morningside will achieve that if the Panthers can get up.

In the final game of the round, a top-against-bottom clash looms as a potential blowout, but Wilston Grange came close to a win against Surfers Paradise last week. Broadbeach look good to be the premiership favourites, winning all six games and will have Morningside next week. A win here will secure the Cats inside the top two, but a loss just opens the door for the other top three sides. Realistically, Broadbeach should get the job done, though the Gorillas have their backs against the wall knowing a win is the only option to play finals, no matter how tough the task might be.

In terms of the competition’s leading goalkicker, Matthew Hammelmann seems to have one hand on the trophy after eight snags last week to take his total to 28 for the season. He overtook Broadbeach’s Jordan Moncrieff who had an uncharacteristic game that even saw him miss from on the line as his ball drop missed the boot. Nonetheless, Moncrieff sits three goals back, and three ahead of Maroochydore’s Mitchell Scholard. The other player with 20 majors is Liam Dawson who will return this week after a week off. In terms of young guns, Josh Gore (13 goals in five games) and Max Pescud (12 in four) have been the key scorers.

Looking at some of the top performers around the league, Mt Gravatt – who has the bye this weekend – has Luke O’Sullivan who has been named in the best six of a possible seven times, snagging six goals in the process. Morningside’s Matthew Payne, Labrador duo Fraser Thurlow and Matthew Lee and Wilston Grange’s Will McKenzie have also earned best honours in six matches. Scholard and Roos’ teammate Jacob Simpson are the next most with five bests for their respective sides.

For Brisbane Lions fans, it might be one of the last couple of weeks to see Tahj Abberley in action as Wilston Grange need to do the unthinkable and upset Broadbeach with Gold Coast fans being able to see the likes of Gore, Bailey Reeves and Aidan Fyfe running around for the Cats. Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier will run out for the Panthers against Jack Johnston for the Lions, whilst Rhys Nicholls and Carter Michael are among those who might cross paths in the Maroochydore-Labrador game. The Magpies will need to find a way to stop Pescud who slammed home 6.5 for the Demons last week in the win, in a big weekend for QAFL action.

QAFL ROUNDS 8 FIXTURES:

Maroochydore vs. Labrador
Morningside vs. Palm Beach Currumbin
Sherwood vs. Surfers Paradise
Wilston Grange vs Broadbeach

Picture: RF Photography