Bull Sharks players were left standing on Leyshon Park field in disbelief after they fell to the Southport Sharks by two points in the QAFLW reserves grand final.
It was not Bond’s day with the boot: they scored one goal and seven behinds compared to their cross-city rival’s total of two goals, three behinds.
Head coach Beth McLaughlin said rubbing salt into their wounds was the fact the action was in the University’s end ‘90 per cent of the time’.
“We had our opportunities compared to Southport and they capitalised on their opportunities when they had the ball. Out of our seven behinds there was probably a couple of set shots that we missed.
“Southport also defended too well,” she said.
Spectators described the match as ‘brilliant’ and ‘amazing’ and praised Bond for playing with ‘class and guts’.
Sunshine and a vocal crowd created a perfect grand final atmosphere in Brisbane and the Bull Sharks were keen for a strong start.
The defending premiers had the chance to score six minutes in, but only one point was registered on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, that set the tone for Bond who failed to capitalise on their chances.
Southport scored the first of their two majors at the 14-minute mark.
The Sharks’ pressure intensified in the second quarter impacting Bond’s ability to close the gap.
In the third quarter Southport secured their second goal and it seemed nothing could stand between them and the premiership trophy.
However, Ashley Russell added her name to the low scoring affair in the final quarter when she slotted Bond’s first and only six points.
The Bull Sharks kept grinding for more points however Southport’s defence proved too strong in the dying stages.
WHO STOOD UP?
30 players were available for selection for the grand final, however only 21 could make the cut. Six players who were part of Bond’s grand final winning team last year brought their experience into the side.
“They all really wanted to be there, everyone kept showing up and the final 21 really cemented their spot in the team,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin was incredibly proud of Bond’s backline during the decider who showed desperation over all four quarters. Kiara Bischa clearly benefited from the time she spent playing for the seniors in 2022.
Amelia Cronin was once again solid in the midfield and was in every contest.
Charlie Doherty was ‘huge’ in the engine room with big clearing kicks while Clara Dahlenburg brought her A-game in the second half.
Up and comer Abbey Bevan impressed at ruck and in the forward line.
WHAT THEY SAID
“I think this year as a whole, in terms of commitment and depth, has been the best we’ve ever seen,” said McLaughlin.
“We finished minor premiers so to finish the regular season on top of the ladder before the decider was awesome. We won 11 games, had a draw and two losses so we did everything we possibly could.
“I said to the players in my final speech that I was just super proud of them as always. They never gave up and you could tell they really wanted it.”
McLaughlin has expressed her interest to stay in a coaching role next season.
“I’m waiting to see what everyone else is doing. I am keen to push up into a senior role. I’ll definitely be around in some capacity for sure.
“David Ashkar, who runs the development of coaches and players has made a great connection with the Burleigh under 17s.
“We’ve had them training with us on a Thursday and some of those players actually played in the grand final.
“I hope that even though a large number of girls missed out on playing in the decider, they’ll still want to come back and push for that spot next year to make another grand final,” she said.
IN OTHER GAMES
The men’s seniors had a fierce contest to beat Coolangatta, just one point separated them in the end.
The reserves also enjoyed a thriller at The Canal, edging out the border town team by five points.
Both sides will face Carrara in their final match of the regular season before finals begin.
Bond Bull Sharks L 1.7.13 Southport Sharks 2.3.15
Bond Bull Sharks W 10.5.65 Coolangatta Tweed 9.10.64
Men’s reserves W 6.5.41 Coolangatta Tweed 5.6.36