By JESS WEBSTER
Aspley is marching towards Round 1 with a commanding 83-point practice match victory over Redland at Voxson Oval on Saturday.
Aspley – fielding 28 of its strongest available players – were a few steps ahead of the Bombers who rotated through 35 players, in what was their first proper hit-out for the season.
Connor Stackelberg and Jono Freeman combined for seven goals as the Hornets found six multiple goalkickers in the comfortable 19.20 (134) to 8.3 (51) victory.
The experience of ruckman Jake Spencer, Matt Payne, Reece Toye, Ben Warren, Jackson Allen and Gav Grose stood tall for Aspley, but the coaching staff would be particularly pleased with the performances from Will Gowers, Jono Giles, Jack Tomkinson and Liam Dawson in a new midfield role.
Whilst playing down the importance of the result, coach Daniel Webster said the squad is tracking nicely ahead of its last practice match against defending premier Southport in a fortnight’s time.
“For us, the good news is the major components of the game plan are there and working, it’s just about refinement, and getting the relationships with some of the new guys coming in,” he told neafl.com.au.
“I’m very happy with today. The boys are up and about and they are enjoying themselves. It’s just another step towards Round 1.
“You want to play the best teams and they give you a good gauge of where you’re, at so I think it (Southport contest) is perfect for us leading in to Round 1, and I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
Redland was without Dowling medallist Adrian Williams, Damian Steven, Matt Thomson and Tom Salter from its line-up, with 2018 NEAFL Leading Goalkicker Matt Hammlemann, captain Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds, Clay Cameron and Peter Yagmoor all on restricted game-time, playing the second half only.
Cameron Spence, Sam Cunnington, Seb Rogers, Blair McCutcheon and new playing-coach Phil Carse were just some of the new faces in action for the Bombers.
Young gun Soul Cormick also played his first game for the club in over 12 months after knee surgery, playing half a game but impressing with his tackling pressure.
Carse said there were some good signs, but plenty to work on, as they look to take on Southport next week.
“We played a lot of players, including six of our seven rookies, so it was important for us to get a good look at a lot of those younger players,” he said.
“There were a lot of learning points that we can take from it. I thought Aspley really got us on the spread at times and their work rate was a really good example to those younger players on where they need to get to. It was a really good education for them.”
For Carse, it was also his first match in Redland colours in five years, with the side even donning their new clash strip – a retro-inspired red sash.
“There was a bit of nostalgia pulling the sash jumped back on, it was good,” Carse said.
“I’ve had an interrupted pre-season with my calf at times so for me I think it about getting a few minutes under my belt. I really enjoyed getting out there with the boys.”
Redland will play Southport and Brisbane in the next two weeks before a Round 1 battle against the Sharks at Fankhauser Reserve.
“We’ll play a different squad next week (against Southport). We’ll reduce the size of the squad as we get closer to Round 1,” Carse said.
“It’s a different game down there at Southport. It’s a much bigger deck, so that run and spread that Aspley did well today will be crucial for us next week, so we’ll be looking for guys who can find that space on the outside.”
Check out the full NEAFL practice match schedule here.
NEAFL Practice Match at Voxson Oval
ASPLEY 3.7 10.12 14.12 19.20 (134)
REDLAND 3.2 4.2 6.2 8.3 (51).
GOALS – Aspley: C Stackelberg 4 J Freeman 3 W Gowers 2 B Nelis 2 B Warren 2 L Hampton 2 J Allen M Payne B Murphy R Toye. Redland: J Wratten 2 K Baker S Cunnington J Rolls C Cameron A Christensen M Hammelmann.
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