AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Rockhampton Panthers vs Bakers Creek Tigeress
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Rockhampton Panthers vs Bakers Creek Tigeress

CQ CHALLENGE CUP: Locals own the curtain raiser

AFL CAPRICORNIA: AFL officially returned to the Capricornia region over the weekend with the CQ Challenge Cup being played in Yeppoon, the first time the Challenge Cup has been played in Capricornia.

The matches saw the 2019 AFLC Frenchville Sports Club Premiership winners take on the 2019 AFL Mackay Allied Pickford Cup winners to see who would take out bragging rights as the Central Queensland Champions in 2020.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints vs Yeppoon Swans
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints vs Yeppoon Swans

For the first time the matches included the Premiers of the Women’s Competitions as well.

It was the Ladies that kicked the day off with back to back Premiers, Rockhampton Panthers, taking on the Bakers Creek Tigers, who only lost one game in the 2019 Season.

The Bakers Creek team had the bigger bodies of the two teams, and they showed their strengths early with a very physical game early in the match.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Rockhampton Panthers vs Bakers Creek Tigeress
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Rockhampton Panthers vs Bakers Creek Tigeress

The tight battle around the ground meant than both sides had limited scoring opportunities and it was the visitors from Mackay that took a narrow two-point lead into the first break.

The Panthers found themselves in unfamiliar territory trailing early in the game and coach, Clint Evans, had to assure his team at the first break to stick to their game plan and work their way back into the match.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Rockhampton Panthers' Jesse McMaster gets tackled
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Rockhampton Panthers' Jesse McMaster gets tackled

With the likes of Imogen Pringle, Gabbie Fitzgerald, Shontay Hockley starting to create plenty of run and creating open spaces through the middle of the ground the Panthers showed why they have been the pinnacle of the local competition in recent years as they pushed their way back in front on the scoreboard.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints' Bayley Medwell-Everett and Yeppoon Swans' Sebastian Kilpatrick-Brazier fight for the ball
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints' Bayley Medwell-Everett and Yeppoon Swans' Sebastian Kilpatrick-Brazier fight for the ball

However, a goal off the deck on the half time siren from the Tigers forwards kept them well in the hunt as the Panthers went to the main break with a five-point lead.

In the second half it was the Panthers that continued to wear down their opposition hitting the scoreboard whenever they had the opportunity and restricting the oppositions attack to just one goal for the second half.

It was a good even spread of contributors for the Panthers team, with Amy Mill being one of the standouts, but it was Bakers Creek’s Imogen Healy that was judged best on ground for the Match.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints vs Yeppoon Swans
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints vs Yeppoon Swans

It was another jewel in the crown for the Capricornia Teams as the Rockhampton Panthers were the Inaugural CQ Challenge Cup winners with a final score of 9-6-60 to 3-6-24.

When the Men’s match did get underway the visiting team, North Mackay Saints, showed their intentions early and were fierce at the ball applying massive amounts of pressure, something that the Yeppoon Swans have rarely faced in recent times.

For the early part of the game the ball was contested through the middle of the ground and blustery conditions made scoring quite a challenge.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Yeppoon Swans' Thomas Cossens gets tackled
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Yeppoon Swans' Thomas Cossens gets tackled

The Swans polish shone through in the early stages of the match and saw them take an 11-point lead into the first break, but they knew that they had a challenge on their hands.

The second term started like the first with the Saints ferocious on their attack on the ball and whilst they got plenty of the footy, they were not clean with their hands and were unable to find free flowing ball movement into the forward line.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Yeppoon Swans' Grant Van Rooyen
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Yeppoon Swans' Grant Van Rooyen

Rarely challenged for quite some time the Swans back six had plenty of work to do and the likes of Shaun Connor, Grant Van Rooyen and Trevor Johnson showed that they have an even spread of class all over the field. Sebastian Brazier was outstanding in defence for the Swans and provided the home team with great rebound into attack on several occasions.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Yeppoon Swans' Thomas Cossens has his eye on the ball
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: Yeppoon Swans' Thomas Cossens has his eye on the ball

The scoreboard didn’t change too much in the early part of the second quarter but as quality sides do the Swans put on a few late goals and when Alex Chapman kicked a major right on the half time break the Swans had jumped away to a six-goal lead.

The Swans continued to chip away at their opponents and whilst the Saints pushed through until the final siren the fitness and professionalism of the Swans shone through as they continued to open the game up and have more run in their legs than the opposition.

AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints vs Yeppoon Swans
AFL CHALLENGE CUP: North Mackay Saints vs Yeppoon Swans

When the full-time siren sounded the Yeppoon Swans had secured their third consecutive CQ Challenge Cup with Yeppoon’s Tom Cossens being named best on ground.

The final score read 18-11-119 to 2-4-16 to the Swans.

Clubs will now refocus on their practise match schedule leading into Round 1 of the AFLC Frenchville Sports Club Premiership on March 28.