By Ben Hunter/NEAFL Media
The Aspley Hornets have sent a serious warning to the competition in a 21.13 (139) to 9.5 (59) thumping over the visiting Canberra Demons on Saturday afternoon.
It was a fairy-tale milestone match for Gavin Grose in his 150th game, who was chaired off the ground through a guard of honour formed by the Canberra Demons.
“It was lovely,” Grose told neafl.com.au.
“It was fantastic from the boys from the full four quarters.”
Grose was thrust into the Hornets’ forward line to close out the game, and took a mark inside 50, but was unable to put the icing on the cake for his milestone match.
“Don’t even talk about it,” he laughed.
“I allowed for the breeze too much, it would have been fantastic to kick, but it was just nice to be involved.”
Touted as an equivalent of an elimination final, the Voxson Oval clash was as good as over halfway into the second quarter, as the Hornets relished a 15 goal to two first half.
Jonathan Freeman began proceedings with two goals coming from strong contested marks, taking advantage of Canberra’s lack of conversion in a opening 10 minutes where the Demons attacked well without reward.
Billy Murphy and Tom Baulch similarly made full use of the Hornets’ midfield dominance and immense forward pressure, both nabbing sneaky goals.
Following a goalless opening term, the Demons responded with vigour to kick two early goals via Harry Carr.
The response was short-lived, as the Hornets nailed nine consecutive goals in the second quarter.
Billy Murphy and James Ives were rewarded for their sublime defensive efforts with two goals in the flood of majors, as Connor Stackelberg slotted the first of his four for the afternoon in a phenomenal aerial display with nine marks.
Lonnie Hampton showed off his elite agility throughout the match, finishing with three goals, including the Hornets’ first of the third quarter.
The Hornets’ midfield thrived with Matt Payne (32 disposals, 1.2) and James Ives (32, 2.0), and Callum Carseldine did a superb job nullifying the Demon’s major ball winners, while also kicking a goal himself.
While only notching 14 disposals, Carseldine visibly got under the skin of Alex Smout holding him to 12 disposals, nearly a third of Smout’s usual output.
Senior coach Daniel Webster was pleased with his side’s pressuring ability, which proved too great for the Demons.
“I thought our pressure on the ball carrier was really good,” Webster told neafl.com.au.
“Especially in that second quarter where we really got on top we had both the pressure and the contested footy numbers up, which is what we know we need to do to win.”
The Demons put up a valiant effort to tie the second half, with debutant Liam Lupton kicking his first goal.
Harry Carr finished with three goals while Angus Baker lead the Demons’ disposal count with 29 disposals alongside nine marks and six tackles.
Debutants from both sides impressed, with Canberra’s Liam Lupton kicking a goal from eight touches, while Aspley’s Jack Lipscombe finished with 15 touches and four tackles across half-back.
Aspley Hornets v Canberra Demons at Voxson Oval
ASPLEY 5.2 15.5 18.9 21.13 (139) CANBERRA 0.3 2.3 5.4 9.5 (59)
GOALS – Aspley: C Stackelberg 4 W Murphy 3 J Freeman 3 L Hampton 3 T Baulch 2 J Ives 2 M Payne J Spencer C Carseldine J Hayden. Canberra: H Carr 3 L Meline 2 A Bruce J Harper L Lupton M Maguire.
BEST – Aspley: J Ives M Payne C Stackelberg J Spencer C Carseldine J Hayden. Canberra: A Baker J Maynard T Highmore J Spina H Carr A Bruce.