Axed Broncos star Anthony Milford made his return to reserve grade but it wasn’t enough as the South Logan Magpies slumped to a 39-22 loss at the hands of the Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup.
Milford is expected to play with the Magpies – a Broncos feeder club – for the next four weeks after his form and confidence were called into question.
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Broncos coach Kevin Walters said the move back to reserve grade would help the playmaker rediscover his mojo.
Milford played five-eighth in a side which contained fellow Broncos Cory Paix, Tesi Niu and Karmichael Hunt.
The Devils led 16-10 at halftime after two tries from boom Broncos rookie Brendan Piakura put them in a commanding position.
They then kicked on to finish 39-22 winners.
Hunt, who scored in the first half, will start training with Brisbane on Monday after he offered to go back to the Broncos in an interview with foxsports.com.au and play in the halves alongside Tom Dearden.
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“I’d prefer to play in the halves, at six and get my hands on the ball,” Hunt said.
“I understand it’s what is best for team.
“I’d love to play six. I think it just suits my game. I can use my vision and creativity and passing skills and kicking.”
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Was this 50m penalty a result of Cale Hooker’s shrewdness, Zac Bailey’s innocence or a flustered umpire error? Or all of the above? You be the judge.
Was this 50m penalty a result of Cale Hooker’s shrewdness, Zac Bailey’s innocence or a flustered umpire error? Or all of the above?
With his Bombers in desperate need of a goal during the second quarter of Saturday night’s game at the Gabba, Hooker appeared to help manufacture a 50m penalty to earn a set-shot close to goal.
After winning a free kick for holding the ball near the wing position, Hooker was about to handball to a teammate before Brisbane player Bailey appeared to move off his mark at around the same time the umpire had called ‘play on’.
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The wise Hooker, before he disposed of the ball, pointed out Bailey’s movement to the umpire, who then appeared to be caught in two minds about what to do next.
The umpire was seemingly halfway through saying to Hooker that Bailey was “not off his mark”. However Bailey himself appeared resigned that he’d made a mistake and given away a 50m penalty for not adhering to the AFL’s new “stand” rule when manning the mark.
Ultimately, the 50m penalty was paid and Hooker converted the set-shot attempt to kick the Bombers’ first major of the night.
But commentators believe Bailey was unlucky.
“I think he (the umpire) didn’t want to pay it, but by the letter of the law he had to in the end,” former Bulldogs ruckman Luke Darcy told Channel 7.
“Was he (Hooker) planning that? Was he faking it? Good move if he was.
“He (the umpire) called ‘play on’ and he hadn’t played on and he wanted his words back.”
Richmond legend Matthew Richardson added: “He said ‘play on’. It can’t be play on and then 50?”
Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis said it was incumbent on the umpire to not make a panicked decision in situations like that.
“I think the umpire in this instance needs to have a little bit of calm about him and not penalise the player who is the man on the mark and doing the right thing,” Lewis told Fox Footy.
“I’m OK with the umpire there to say: ‘Sorry I mucked the call up, Hooker go back and take your kick, I’m not going to use it as a ball-up … go back and take your kick, I made a mistake.’”
It wasn’t the only call in the second term that perplexed fans and commentators.
Essendon young gun Nik Cox and Lions forward Eric Hipwood were both penalised for deliberate out of bounds.
The free against Hipwood, who soccered off the ground and kicked the ball forward while under pressure, seemed to irk Lions coach Chris Fagan the most. And commentators agreed.
“That’s the one I don’t get. He’s not trying to get that out of bounds. He’s trying to get it forward, he’s trying to attack,” Richardson said.
“It’s almost at the point where they should pay last touch because there’s not much else Hipwood could do then.”
Four-time premiership Hawk Luke Hodge added: “I think that’’s where common sense needs to come into it. It’s a wet game, that ball’s going to slide on, he’s run 50m to kick the ball forward off the ground.”
Earlier in the quarter, Lions midfielder Jarrod Berry was reported for rough conduct after a sling tackle on Cox.
However on replay, it appeared Berry’s head was well off the ground when he was brought to ground.
“I think the free kick was there, but I don’t think the report will be too much of an issue,” Darcy said.
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This is a GOLD event suitable for seniors.
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Meet by the Rafting Ground Road entrance to the park.
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The final siren sounds and the Brisbane Lions have broken through for their first AFLW premiership!
After falling short at the final hurdle in 2017 and 2018, Brisbane and their coach Craig Starcevich finally taste the ultimate success, beating Adelaide 6.2.38 to 3.2.20.
The result was achieved largely on the back of a brilliant defensive effort which saw them repel almost every attacking foray that the Crows threw at them.
Despite comfortably winning the inside-50 battle 44-23, Adelaide could only manage three goals while the Lions scored six. It was a rope-a-dope performance that the great Muhammad Ali would’ve been proud of!
Anderson (23), Bates (23) and Lutkins (18) were Brisbane’s leading ball winners, and their goals came from Hodder (2), Wuetschner (2), Arnell and Dawes.
Hatchard (20), Thompson (18) and Marinoff (16) led the disposals for Adelaide, and Thompson, Ponter and Jones were their goalkickers.
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In a letter addressed to Lions fans before the start of the 2021 AFLW grand final, Emily Bates penned what she called a “true cliche”:
Against the star power of Erin Phillips, Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard and the other usual suspects, Brisbane did indeed prove Bates — who would finish the final as the game’s equal highest possession-getter — and the cliche true in their 18-point victory over Adelaide.
As Bates — a member of the leadership group — would go on to write, it is true that the Lions “do not rely on individual star power”.
In fact, as reported last week, the Lions have had nothing short of an exodus of talent as a consequence of the competition’s expansion — losing eight players in 2019 to the Gold Coast including their former captain and vice-captain Leah Kaslar and Sam Virgo.
As if that wasn’t enough, they lost marquees in Sabrina Frederick and Tayla Harris to Richmond and Carlton respectively, Kate McCarthy and Nat Exon to St Kilda and the quartet of Kaitlyn Ashmore, Tahlia Randall, Jamie Stanton (now at Gold Coast) and Brittany Gibson to North Melbourne in 2018.
The laundry list of body blows makes the underdogs’ victory over the Crows — in front of a typically hostile South Australian crowd of 22,934 — even more impressive.
It also speaks to the culture of a club that withstood every challenge it has faced this season — including last-minute COVID-induced changes that, in just one example, had players confined to their hotel before their final match of the season after a Brisbane-based outbreak.
“We have a pretty special culture at this club,” said captain Emma Zielke at the pre-game press conference, who injured her right hamstring during the game.
“One of the things the girls always talk about is how much they enjoy getting down to the club.
“Whether it’s preseason, whether we’re getting smashed in the hot sun or on game day … it’s the culture, the energy and enjoyment that you have that breeds success because you want to be around each other as much as possible.”
Defence win premierships
While Brisbane might not have the star-studded team the Crows are renowned for, they do rely on a rock-solid backline, proving yet another sporting cliche true: defences win premierships.
Unbelievably, the Crows dominated the Grand Final inside 50s 44-24 (the sixth most in an AFLW game), but scored just three goals. The Lions, meanwhile, recorded an incredible 40 rebound 50s.
All day, Adelaide wasted scoring opportunities with poor inside 50 entries, causing them to — as Chyloe Kurdas commented on ABC Grandstand — “capitulate in a way we haven’t seen” in the competition’s history.
That was credit to the relentless pressure the entire Lions team applied — but also to their brilliant backline.
According to Champion Data, Kate Lutkins — who was deservedly crowned best on ground — had 10 rebound 50s, including seven contested possessions to go with her 18 disposals.
Lutkins also played the match carrying an injury — she tore the plantar fascia in her left foot in round eight — a remarkable achievement given her performance.
But the medal could just have easily gone to the entire Brisbane defence, with Bri Koenen enormous with six rebound 50s of her own and Koenen, Lutkins and Shannon Campbell taking 17 marks between them.
On a day when they lost their skipper Zielke, it was also telling that all of Campbell, Lutkins and Koenen are members of the club’s official leadership team.
Leaders again felled on big stage
In the lead-up to the AFLW’s biggest game of 2021, all talk focused on the outstanding leadership of Adelaide skipper Chelsea Randall, who missed the chance to clinch a third premiership for her club under the AFL’s newly-introduced concussion protocols.
The rules force players to miss a minimum of 12 days if they are affected by concussion, but the Crows skipper was rightly lauded for ruling herself out from the game despite having the option to undergo additional concussion testing on the Monday after the preliminary final where she brutally collided with Melbourne’s Eliza McNamara.
In a video recorded for her club’s website, Randall said she had made the decision because fighting to play would have sent the wrong message to “grassroots footballers”.
“When I was 20, I was watching an E-division grand final and a young man died in front of my eyes. The week prior he’d been concussed; went to seven different doctors, got approval to play, was the captain of his team. [At the game] he received a normal bump at the centre square and never got back up.”
No-one could say that Adelaide would have won with Randall playing, but her absence was even more painful for the Crows on a day when their stand-in skipper Ange Foley was likewise hit with a knee injury.
To the naked eye, the incident eerily appeared to take place on the same patch of grass where then co-captain Erin Phillips was struck down with an ACL in 2019.
In front of 53,034 in 2019, Phillips’ ACL brought a hush to an otherwise boisterous crowd before she went on to win best on ground and a Premiership medallion.
In 2021, however, the game’s best player was as uncharacteristically quiet as her team, while the one-eyed crowd had already fallen silent until eventually — surreally — the crowd broke out into a “Lions” chant with just minutes remaining on the clock.
Once again, the letter Bates penned to fans read almost like a premonition:
The Lions’ spirit not only shielded them. It roared them into contention with Adelaide for the AFLW’s champion team after three grand finals in five seasons and now — finally — a premiership.
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The Blues might have applied some cosmetic surgery to the scoreboard in the end, but make no mistake, this game was well and truly over by three-quarter time.
Port Adelaide emphatically won the disposals 400-334 and marks 110-95 while also getting the edge in contested possessions 141-134.
Amazingly, the Blues had 10 more inside 50s (58-48) and four more clearances (36-32), but as has been the case for most of the year for them, they were way too inefficient.
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Round one: defeated Richmond 5.11 (41) to 1.6 (12)
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The 2021 AFLW season has been one of the most competitive ever, but at the end of it all it’s Adelaide and Brisbane left standing to compete in the grand final.
The two teams have been among the most successful in the competition’s history, and another classic is expected today. Get the lowdown on everything you need to know before the big game.
When is the AFLW grand final?
Saturday, April 17 at 2:00pm AEST — that’s this afternoon! The game is being played in Adelaide, where it will be 1:30pm bouncedown local time.
The AFL has played around with all the fixtures for Saturday to ensure this is the only game being played in that time slot.
Where is the AFLW grand final, and how big will the crowd be?
As mentioned, the game is in Adelaide. That’s down to the Crows finishing on top of the ladder at the end of the season, while the Lions finished second.
A massive crowd is expected on the day, with South Australia’s COVID restrictions allowing up to 40,000 people in the ground for the game. Given the Crows’ last grand final appearance at Adelaide Oval brought in 53,034, a capacity crowd could be on the cards.
And in more good news, the AFL has ruled that the two teams can run onto the field through banners before the game starts, a tradition that had been lost due to coronavirus restrictions.
How can I watch the AFLW grand final?
The game will be broadcast live around the country on the Seven Network, Fox Footy and Kayo Sports.
You can also tune in to ABC Grandstand’s live radio commentary here, or follow all the action with our live blog.
What’s this I hear about Adelaide’s captain and concussion?
That’s right, Crows captain Chelsea Randall is out of the grand final after suffering a concussion in the preliminary final win over Melbourne.
In what was the first major test for the league’s new concussion rule, which forces any concussed player to take 12 days off to recover, Randall’s diagnosis meant she had no choice but to miss the game.
Randall will be sorely missed in the heart of Adelaide’s defence.
What is the history between these two teams?
This is the second grand final these teams have played against each other, the first coming back in the league’s inaugural season in 2017.
The Crows claimed the premiership on that day, as they did in 2019 when they smashed Carlton to win their second flag.
For both clubs, this is their third AFLW grand final appearance, but while the Crows have a perfect 2-0 record, Brisbane is yet to taste success on the season’s final day.
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Victoria will downgrade the Brisbane, Gladstone and Byron Bay areas from “orange” to “green” zones from midnight.
The change means people travelling from those areas to Victoria will no longer need to quarantine and get tested upon arriving in the state.
Once that kicks in, every part of Australia and New Zealand will be considered a “green zone” under Victoria’s travel permit system.
Everyone entering Victoria needs to apply for a travel permit, which classifies areas as red, orange or green zones based on their coronavirus risk.
Green zone permit holders are free to enter the state with no other restrictions.
People coming from orange zones had to get tested and self-isolate until they got a negative test result.
Red zone permit holders needed to self-isolate for a full two weeks, even if they tested negative for the virus during that period.
But under the rules, people can only enter Victoria from red zones if they are a resident, have an exemption or qualify for a worker or transit permit.
It is more relaxed than the red zone rules that were in place late last year, which blocked Victorians from entering their own state.
Victoria designated the Greater Brisbane area a red zone late last month, after the Queensland government announced a snap lockdown in response to COVID cases detected in the community.
The Gladstone area, on the coast about 500 kilometres north of Brisbane, and the Byron Bay region in northern New South Wales, were designated orange zones.
On April 1 Brisbane’s red zone classification was downgraded to orange.
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