By JESS WEBSTER
Aspley made it five straight NEAFL finals campaigns in 2017, but an inconsistent season came unstuck in an Elimination Final thrashing by Sydney University.
Here is the Hornets’ season in review.
By the Numbers
Ladder position: 6th
Last year: 4th
2017 Carl Herbert Medal Winner
Top 5 NEAFL MVP votes
50: Matthew Payne (7th overall)
31: Ed Barlow
24: Ben Warren
23: Reece Toye
17: Daniel Joseph
Snapshot: It was an inconsistent year for the Aspley Hornets, who only recorded consecutive victories twice throughout the year as injuries and player unavailability cost the club dearly. They kept their heads above water, holding a place in the top six for most of the year, but ultimately crashed against Sydney University in an Elimination Final at Blacktown to bring 2017 to an abrupt halt.
Highlight: Aspley was on a five-match losing streak entering Round 20. Holding on to sixth place by percentage only, the equation was simple for the Hornets: Win their last two matches at home against Southport and NT Thunder, or risk missing finals for the first time since 2012. The clash against the Sharks was the coming-of-age for Oskar Baker, who booted four goals in a best-on-ground performance as Aspley kicked 10 goals to four in the second half to run away 45-point winners. The following week against NT Thunder, the experienced heads of Ed Barlow (37 disposals) and Ben Warren (25 disposals, 12 marks, four goals) steered the Hornets to another 45-point win.
Lowlight: With some valuable form under their belts, it was only a week later which Aspley’s season ended in disappointing fashion against Sydney University. While the Hornets were only eight points adrift at quarter-time, they slowly lost their grip on the contest, falling to a 42-point deficit by three-quarter time with a final margin of 50, as their lack of depth was exposed by a hungry Students outfit.
Star Power: Two-time NEAFL MVP winner Matthew Payne proved he is still a class above, finishing in the top 10 of the award despite missing six weeks while overseas. Tasmanian recruit Daniel Joseph took home the Carl Herbert Medal as well as an invite to the AFL’s ‘Rookie Me’ Combine, after an impressive break-out season by the 23-yer-old. Ed Barlow’s experience was crucial to the side, NEAFL representative captain Gavin Grose starred in defence and co-captain Ben Warren’s leadership was also vital in his return to his junior club this year.
Next Generation: Teenage midfielder Oskar Baker stole the headlines in 2017 when he burst on to the scene after making his NEAFL debut in Round 5, throwing himself into AFL draft calculations with several eye-catching performances in the midfield. Tasmanian recruit Jordan Hayden – who earned selection in the initial NEAFL representative side – also impressed in his first year at the club.
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