Baby Bull Sharks break Hornet hearts

BOND University’s core group of star youngsters proved too much for Aspley in the 2023 QAFL Women’s Grand Final, running away 49-point winners in a comprehensive result at Brighton Homes Arena on the weekend. Bottom-age star Havana Harris added to her ever-growing CV by winning the best on ground medal for her performance in the wing.

With a total of seven Queensland Under 18s representatives in their side, the Bull Sharks took a little while to find the big sticks, but once they hit the front, they never looked back. In a largely one-sided contest, Bond University came back from a narrow two-point deficit – and conceding the first goal to kick 10 of the next 11 and skip to a memorable 10.6 (66) to 2.5 (17) victory.

Dominating the air with 10 contested marks to three and 10 intercept marks to six, the Bull Sharks had plenty of the play inside their forward half, and though they were a little wasteful early, straightened up after quarter time.

Aspley was the first one on the board though, as Rachael Vetter got back to soccer home a goal after a few attempts from various players. Bond University spent the majority of the term inside its forward 50, but chances went begging as Harris, Ava Usher, Nyalli Milne and Georgia Hutton all had opportunities but could not capitalise.

It did not take long for the favourites to get back on top as double bottom-ager Usher won a free kick for in the back straight in front of goal three minutes into the second term. She made no mistake, and neither did her Under 18s captain Josie McCabe, who a few minutes later put the ball inside 50 to Harris, then pushed to the goalsquare won a free kick and converted the goal.

The Hornets did not have a lot of chances in the second term, but when they did, they failed to maximise them with Vetter missing a sitter from the top of the goalsquare, hitting the inside of the post, and then Lucia Liessi had a shot from a tight angle that also missed.

To add salt to the wound, up the other end, Bond University worked it from Harris to Courtney Sexton whose neat low bullet into Ella Calleja on the edge of half-time proved a masterstroke. The overager made no mistake from long-range converting the goal and handing her side a 15-point lead at the main break.

The third term is called the premiership quarter and it is easy to see why, with the Bull Sharks skipping away with a three goals to one term. Tara Harrington – who had cracked in through midfield – found her calling up forward, running hard to shrug off a would-be tackler, straighten up and nail it in the opening three minutes.

Just when it looked like the game was slipping away, Vetter kicked a special goal off the left out of congestion that bounced home. It cut the deficit to 15 points to keep the Hornets within reach. A Jessica Stallard long-range shot just fell short five minutes later, and Bond capitalised in the later part of the term.

Usher kicked a second goal from a set short after a few minutes later, and then Milne also converted a goal when her snap from the boundary went across the face but a late push from an Aspley defender put her on the goalline. In between those majors, Jaimie Bryant provided a rare highlight for the Hornets with a multiple bounce run down the middle, but ultimately they headed in facing a 27-point deficit.

Any chance of an Aspley comeback was snuffed out from the opening inside 50 with Harris getting the ball clear and eventually it worked its way to Milne who marked and slotted it home from 40m out. The game was done and dusted,, and evolved into party time. Usher slammed home one on the run and then Harris got reward for her hard work with a clever snap midway through the term.

Though Aspley fought to the end, a fourth final term goal – to Harrington via a juggling mark and set shot – put the icing on the cake. The Hornets had a couple of late chances via Liessi and Arianna Williams, but could not add to their tally, and the Bull Sharks erupted as the siren sounded to declare them 2023 QAFL Women’s premiers.

Harris won best on ground for her 19 disposals, three marks, six clearances, 19 hitouts, seven inside 50s, five tackles and one goal. The work of Usher (18 disposals, three marks, six clearances, four inside 50s, six tackles and three goals) and Harrington (13 disposals, two marks, three clearances, five inside 50s, six tackles and two goals) did plenty for the cause. Milne also kicked a couple of majors, while Sexton was crucial on the inside with five clearances.

For Aspley, Emma Pittman was named best-on, picking up a team-high 14 disposals, as well as four marks and four tackles, while Louise Tyson (11 disposals, two marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and Bryant (10 disposals, two marks) were the other double-digit ball-winners. Mikayla Martin laid a match-high eight tackles, while Vetter kicked 2.1 from three disposals.

Havana Harris won best on ground for her performance through the ruck and around the ground. | Image credit: AFL Queensland

BOND UNIVERSITY 0.4 | 3.5 | 6.5 | 10.6 (66)
ASPLEY HORNETS 1.0 | 1.2 | 2.2 | 2.5 (17)

Bond Uni: A. Usher 3, N. Milne 2, T. Harrington 2, E. Calleja, H. Harris, J. McCabe
Aspley: R. Vetter 2

Bond Uni:
H. Harris, A. Usher, T. Harrington, N. Milne, K. Bischa
Aspley: E. Pittman, L. Tyson, M. Martin, C. Daniec, L. Pengelly

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments