Nick's sharpshooting hat-trick lifts Knights for finals
GATTON farmer Nick Edwards is keen to build on his rich pickings when the Ipswich Knights launch their latest Queensland Premier League football finals' quest.
The 2019 recruit has every reason to feel confident after scoring his first hat-trick for the Knights, a week out from the playoffs.
Edwards' timely boost came in his team's comfortable 4-2 victory over Southside Eagles at Bundamba on Saturday night.
"I've started to score consistently, which is good,'' Edwards, 24, said.
He said having a game against the Brisbane Roar A-League team on Thursday night helped sharpen up the Knights team.
"We got a good run out of them and learnt a lot and came here and we put a good performance in,'' Edwards said.
Although the Knights had already secured a playoff spot, their eighth victory of the season showed the Ipswich team can be a threat in this year's final series.
The fifth-placed Knights will play third-placed Logan at Mitchelton in Sunday's opening week of QPL finals.
Having joined the Knights from last year's South West Queensland Thunder National Premier Leagues team, Edwards rated his first long-range strike the most satisfying on Saturday night.
That terrific 20th minute goal came from a corner clearance with Edwards pouncing on the opportunity.
Edwards, who recently cut off his long hair and removed his headband, sent the Knights 2-0 ahead at halftime. After seizing on another ball, he side-stepped the goalkeeper and calmly slotted the ball in.
His hat-trick in the 79th minute came from fantastic team build-up.
Before that, hard-working Knights striker Lachlan Munn took his season tally to nine goals from 15 games. He remained the team's top scorer ahead of Edwards (seven from 17 games after his latest haul) and Emmanuel Peter (seven from 18 matches).
Former Olympic NPL striker Munn deserved at least another goal for his determined effort on Saturday night.
Edwards just smiled when asked if the Knights' chief scorers were having a fun competition.
"Everyone likes to score and all three of us will keep trying to score goals,'' Edwards said. "But the main thing is as long as we win.''
All the Knights players performed well with the skilful Lincoln Rule controlling the midfield.
The back four of captain Jack Cabassi, Corey Lucas, Ben Taylor and Yuta Kasahara looked strong until the Eagles' late consolation double.
Cabassi made some superb runs up the flanks with Nahom Waldu and Lucky Joe also threatening at times.
Goalkeeper Chris Parsons delivered a tidy performance.
Originally from Albury in NSW, Edwards moved to Queensland at a young age, playing for Lions before heading up to Toowoomba.
He accepted an offer to play at the Knights after relocating and hearing "it was a pretty good club''.
"I've loved it,'' Edwards said.
"They're a funny bunch of boys but it's good fun.''
The Eagles only scored in the 84th minute and in injury time after the Knights had the match secured.
"It's disappointing they got those two goals but those four we put past them were quite good goals, which is what we want,'' Edwards said.
The senior team's win at Eric Evans Reserve completed another trifecta for the club which has its top three male sides preparing for finals' football.
The Knights under 20s ran over the top of Southside Eagles 6-1 in the earlier match after the Ipswich under 18s held out the visitors 2-1.
Edwards was excited about what the senior team can achieve from there.
"On anyone's day, anyone can win the game I think,'' he said. "Especially we have a good record against the top team (Sunshine Coast) so we'll give everyone a bit of a run and hopefully get some wins.''
State of play
QPL: Ipswich Knights 4 (Nick Edwards 3, Lachlan Munn) def Southside Eagles 2.
U20: Knights 6 (Tyran Paz 2, Alex Golding, Mathew Drummond, Finley Smart, Jack Mcgrath) def Southside Eagles 1.
U18: Ipswich Knights 2 (Lewin Smart) def Southside Eagles 1.