By JESS WEBSTER
Southport has ended a seven-year drought at Voxson Oval in nail-biting fashion as they won an epic battle by eight points over Aspley on Saturday afternoon.
In a match where several chances went begging for both teams, it was the Sharks who found four goals to two in the last to triumph 8.21 (69) to 8.13 (61) and maintain an unbeaten start to their premiership defence.
Southport co-captain Seb Tape was ecstatic to emerge from a brutal, contested clash where the margin never grew beyond three goals.
“I’m just so stoked for the boys,” he told neafl.com.au. “It’s been a tough time for us here at Aspley – we haven’t won here in seven years – and they always make it really hard for us.
“We may some errors at key times but I’m really happy with the resilience we showed.
“Aspley play this ground really well, and they are a really good side, so we were aware of it (record at venue) and we’re happy to get the monkey off our back.”
Both sides lost players early with Southport defender Ryan Davis and Aspley midfielder Jordan Hayden out of the game with injury.
It was Aspley who got the jump early with three quick goals to race to an 18-point lead after 13 minutes in the first quarter.
The Sharks clawed their way back to three points by half-time, but the goals soon dried up.
Southport sprayed 0.7 in the third and Aspley’s Jonathan Freeman was the lone goalkicker of the term to set the match up for a tense finish.
Lonnie Hampton – who’s speed an evasiveness was on show the whole match – drew first blood in the last to give the Hornets an 11-point margin.
Southport responded with the next three to hit the lead, until Billy Murphy drew scores level at the 21-minute mark.
Enter Jack Mentha. The young Victorian recruit – on debut after being a late inclusion – threw himself into a contest and took out two Aspley players in order to bring the ball to ground on the wing.
From there, Southport relayed the ball inside 50 where Mitch Johnson slotted a set shot – and his fourth major – to hand the lead back to the Sharks, which they held on to right to the final siren.
It was mixed emotions for Aspley coach Daniel Webster; pleased the group was able to respond after a disastrous opening round against Sydney University, but disappointed they couldn’t take their chances when it mattered most.
“I think immediately after the game you are more concerned with the opportunity you let slip,” he told neafl.com.au.
“I was proud of the effort and the bounce back from last week, because we were pretty ordinary. But we want more.”
Aspley were led by its veterans Gavin Grose and Matthew Payne (30 disposals, six rebound 50s) whilst new recruit Matt Shaw was again impressive for the Sharks, proving his worth with 25 disposals, 11 marks, five inside 50s, six rebound 50s and two goals.
It was Southport’s first win at Voxson Oval (formerly Graham Rd) since Round 6, 2012.
Both teams will be in action on Good Friday next week. The Hornets will search for its first win of the season against ladder leaders Brisbane, whilst Southport travel to Canberra to take on the Demons.
NEAFL ROUND 2
Aspley Hornets v Southport Sharks at Voxson Oval
SOUTHPORT 1.6 4.10 4.17 8.21 (69)
ASPLEY 4.3 5.7 6.10 8.13 (61)
GOALS – Southport: M Johnson 4 M Shaw 2 J Hall D Fyfe. Aspley: L Hampton 2 J Freeman 2 W Murphy 2 R Toye J Spencer.
BEST – Southport: M Shaw J Turner M Willis M Johnson R Clark B Murdoch. Aspley: G Grose M Payne J Arnold L Dawson L Hampton J Freeman.
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