By JESS WEBSTER
Southport defender Brandon Chadwick went from emergency to hero on Saturday when he kicked the winning goal against Brisbane in a thrilling two-point contest at Fankhauser Reserve.
The Sharks opened up a four-point gap at the top of the Tribal Sport NEAFL ladder with the 7.18 (60) to 8.10 (58) victory, but they almost coughed up the win with poor accuracy in the wet conditions.
It took a free kick to Chadwick – a late inclusion for Charlie Ford – and set shot conversion from 35m out for the Sharks to steal victory from the jaws of defeat, as the Lions threatened to run away with the contest in the second half.
Southport was all over Brisbane in the opening term with pressure and physicality around the contest limiting the Lions’ run and carry.
The Sharks should have been in front by more at quarter-time but booted 2.9 to 0.0 to leave the door open for the Lions.
The visitors were finally on the board 12 minutes in to the second when Jacob Allison split the middle whilst under pressure.
The Lions cut the margin to 11 points at half-time – 3.12 to 3.1 – and made their move in the third as the Sharks began to tire.
The Sharks booted three consecutive behinds before Rohan Bewick added another major for Brisbane, followed shortly after by a set shot from Corey Lyons and another snap from Bewick to make it six goals in a row to the visitors.
Mitch Johnson’s second goal of the game at the 22-minute mark of the third steadied the ship for Southport as they went in to the last term clinging to a one-point lead.
It took 13 minutes for the first goal to be scored in the last, but it was worth the wait. Lions defender Mitch Hinge faked one way, went the other and nailed a long-range goal from 50m out.
When Jacob Allison converted a beautiful goal on the run from 50m out three minutes later, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the Sharks as the margin grew to 14.
As the final quarter ticked in to time on, Tom Wilkson sprung to life and gave the Sharks some hope – firstly converting a set shot before a right foot snap in the pocket cut the deficit to two points at the 25-minute mark.
A costly miss from Jack Tomkinson at the other end of the ground let the Sharks off the hook, and Chadwick’s goal nearly 30 minutes was enough to hand Southport an inspiring victory.
Led by a rock solid defence of Jordan Taylor, Ryan Davis, Daniel Charlesworth and Rhys Clark, the Sharks were also well served by Wilkinson, forward Josh Baxter and co-captain Andrew Boston.
Ryan Bastinac and Claye Beams were strrong through the midfield for the Lions, while Bewick finished with three majors and Brandon Starcevich, Cedric Cox and Archie Smith performed well.
Southport will now face Aspley at Graham Rd next week, while the Lions travel to Sydney to take on Sydney University at Blacktown.
Southport Sharks v Brisbane Lions at Fankhauser Reserve
SOUTHPORT 2.9 3.12 4.16 7.18 (60)
BRISBANE 0.0 3.1 6.3 8.10 (58)
GOALS – Southport: T Wilkinson 3 M Johnson 2 B Chadwick N Corbett. Brisbane: R Bewick 3 J Allison 2 C Lyons C Ballenden M Hinge.
BEST – Southport: T Wilkinson J Baxter A Boston R Davis J Taylor D Charlesworth. Brisbane: R Bastinac C Beams C Lyons B Starcevich C Cox A Smith.
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