By JESS WEBSTER
Aspley has sent NT Thunder’s season into a tailspin after handing the visitors a 37-point loss at Graham Rd on Saturday.
Every time the Territorians made a charge, the Hornets were able to respond on their way to a 15.14 (104) to 10.7 (67) victory over their traditional rivals.
It sees NT Thunder plummet to ninth on the ladder, having won just one of their past six matches.
On the flip side, the win signals a big turnaround from the Hornets, who began the season 1-3 before a resurgence back in to the top six.
Led by another masterclass from Matthew Payne (34 disposals, seven clearances, nine inside 50s and a goal), and seven majors between forwards Jono Freeman and Ben Warren, a strong first half set the platform for Aspley’s triumph.
Abraham Ankers had the chance to give NT Thunder some early momentum, but missed two easy shots in the opening three minutes, and Aspley made them pay.
They booted four goals to none in the opening term, highlighted by a racking kick from Jackson Allen hugged up on the boundary line 50m out.
NT spearhead Darren Ewing – sitting on 590 NEAFL goals – was responsible for getting Thunder on the board early in the second as they began to chip away at a 24-point quarter-time deficit.
They got within 14 points after Huge Drogemuller split the middle at the 14-minute mark, but the Hornets found the answers with three consecutive majors to Freeman (two) and Warren.
NT Thunder charged in the third, booting four of the first five majors to get within 19 points, but coughed up the momentum when Freeman found his third and fourth goals towards the end of the quarter.
Trailing by 29 points at the last change, NT Thunder got with 19 points again as Ewing booted his fifth followed by Drogemuller’s second, until the Hornets starved them of a comeback.
First, Warren took a pack mark in the goal square before Zac Buechner danced around the mark and slotted a major on the run.
The final blow came when Connor Stackelberg put icing on the cake with a beautiful set shot conversion from 50m out on the half-forward flank.
Ruckman Jake Spencer was another crucial cog in the Hornets machine, amassing 44 hit-outs alongside 21 disposals and nine marks.
For Thunder, Joe Anderson was among their best with a team-high 21 disposals, while Richard Tambling collected 19 plus 10 clearances and inside 50s.
Despite an even battle in the clearances (35 each) and having only five less inside 50s than the Hornets, NT Thunder’s costly turnovers and skill errors meant Aspley had plenty of chances to hit the scoreboard.
NT Thunder faces a do-or-die clash with Canberra next Saturday night at UNSW Canberra Oval, while Aspley will meet Sydney University in a tantalising clash at Blacktown.
Aspley Hornets v NT Thunder at Graham Rd
ASPLEY 4.2 8.8 11.11 15.14 (104)
NT THUNDER 0.2 3.4 7.6 10.7 (67)
GOALS – Aspley: J Freeman 4 J Allen 2 B Warren 2 H Pearce 2 A Swallow M Payne C Stackelberg Z Buechner. NT Thunder: D Ewing 5 S Rioli 2 H Drogemuller 2 J Stokes.
BEST – Aspley: M Payne J Spencer W Gowers B Warren J Allen A Swallow. NT Thunder: P Heenan J Anderson D Ewing S Smith R Tambling B Rioli.
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