Riley Budd and Nathan Richards celebrate their Elimination Final win. Photo: Matt Corby/NEAFL.

By JESS WEBSTER and ANT WINGARD

 

The countdown to season 2019 is well underway as teams prepare for another exciting year of NEAFL football.

We’ve taken a look at some of the top contests not to be missed on the calendar!

 

ROUND 3
ASPLEY V BRISBANE
April 19, Voxon Oval, 1.30pm

Voxson Oval (formerly Graham Road) will provide the perfect vantage point to view the first ever Good Friday NEAFL game in Queensland on April 19. Of course, the two sides have enjoyed countless encounters at the venue in recent times, including the Hornets’ daring comeback in the 2018 Elimination Final. After being delisted from the Lions at the end of the season and subsequently signing on with Aspley, the marquee showdown will also be Liam Dawson’s first against his former side.

 

ROUND 4
REDLAND V NT THUNDER
April 27, Scottsdale Park, 1.30pm

Scottsdale Park will once again have the opportunity to host the annual ANZAC Round showdown in 2019 between the Bombers and Thunder. The traditional fixture between the two sides has produced several highlights over the years, including dazzling performances in front of goal by NT Thunder’s Adam Sambono in 2017 and Bomber spearhead Matt Hammelmann in 2018, who kicked nine goals to become the first Redland player to win the ANZAC Medal for best afield.

 

ROUND 5
CANBERRA V GIANTS
May 3, Phillip Oval, 6.30pm

Canberra will get its taste of Friday night action for the first time when they host the GIANTS at Phillip Oval in Round 5, in what will be a huge weekend of AFL and NEAFL football in the region. The GIANTS will take on St Kilda at UNSW Canberra Oval in their AFL clash on Saturday, after the Demons host the GIANTS the night before. It will be a crucial early-season test for the Preliminary Finalists on home soil, who will play two AFL clubs and defending premier Southport in the first five rounds.

 

ROUND 6
SYDNEY V SYDNEY UNIVERSITY
May 10, SCG, 4.10pm

Every season this match grows in stature, and 2019 will be no different when Sydney battles Sydney University under lights at the SCG in Round 6. The Students were undefeated heading in to the corresponding match last year, which fell in Round 9, but the Swans put on a clinic to upset Sydney Uni by 51 points. A few personnel changes at the Students in 2019 has the potential to make the challenge a bit tougher this year, but it will be a contest coach Tom Morrision will certainly have circled in the calendar from the start of the season.

 

ROUND 8
BRISBANE V GIANTS
May 25, Maroochydore, 12pm

For the second year in a row, Brisbane will take a home game to the Sunshine Coast – a region which has produced the likes of Eric Hipwood, Jono Freeman and Jack Payne through the Brisbane Lions Academy. In 2018, the Lions hosted Aspley at the same venue and despite fielding 16 AFL-listed players, it was the Hornets who came away with the four points. This year, it will be the GIANTS who make the trip, and given the result of last season’s blockbuster, the men in orange may very well fancy their chances.

 

ROUND 15
SYDNEY V SOUTHPORT
July 13, SCG, 10.05am

Sydney will have to wait until the midpoint of the season to try and earn retribution against Southport in the 2018 NEAFL Grand Final rematch. Luckily for the Swans, this game will be on their home turf. Memories of Cody Filewood’s opening minute goal – the first of many Sharks’ majors which led to their premiership triumph – may still haunt the Swans who have now lost five NEAFL Grand Finals. Last year’s loss in the season decider was also the first time Sydney had ever lost to Southport, adding an extra element of revenge to this contest.

 

ROUND 19
BRISBANE V GOLD COAST
August 10, Gabba, 12.55pm

The respective NEAFL clubs of Queensland’s two AFL sides will face off several times throughout the 2019 season, but it’s this Round 19 fixture which looms as perhaps most crucial given the grand scope of the season. In the weeks leading up to the showdown, the Lions face a tough slate of matches against Sydney and Southport meaning claiming the four points at home are crucial with finals drawing close. The game also coincidences with the QClash between the Lions and SUNS’ AFL contingents that same night. As both teams continue to develop their lists, this game serves as an opportunity to gauge the progress of both clubs.

 

ROUND 19
ASPLEY V SYDNEY
August 10, Voxon Oval, 12pm

Voxson Oval hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for Sydney, which has produced just one win at the venue in the NEAFL history despite their claim at the competition’s most dominant team by winning percentage. You’d need to go back to Round 21, 2015 for the last time the Swans came away with the four points against Aspley, which has long made their home venue a fortress. Of course, the most famous of the games between the two sides a the ground was the 2014 Grand Final, when Hornet Daniel Smith booted the game winner on the siren and hand Aspley an exhilarating premiership victory. Round 19 is the only time the Swans will travel to Voxson Oval in 2019 but the fixture, entrenched deep into the season, could provide another chapter in the two club’s glittering rivalry.

 

 

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