By BEN HUNTER
NEAFL ROUND 7
Saturday, May 18, 2019
NT Thunder (10th) v Aspley Hornets (9th)
TIO Stadium, 6.30pm
With the chance to climb away from the bottom rungs of the ladder, this Saturday night’s clash in Darwin will see two fiercely competitive teams go head-to-head.
The highly-touted Hornets have once again started their campaign slowly with a 1-4 record, but have proven in recent years to be able to turn seasons around, often into finals. Is this the match where Aspley get on track?
The Thunder put together a brave contest against the reigning premiers, falling just 11 points short at Fankhauser Reserve last week. If the NT can have a similar effort against Aspley, there’s no reason the Thunder can’t nab victory at home and an all-important confidence boost.
Round 17, 2018: Aspley 9.16 (70) defeated NT Thunder 6.7 (43) at TIO Stadium.
Round 2, 2018: NT Thunder 16.12 (108) defeated Aspley 11.14 (80) at Voxson Oval.
Round 21, 2017, Aspley 16.10 (106) defeated NT Thunder 8.13 (61) at TIO Stadium.
1. Aspley veteran Reece Toye was set to take the crown of the highest-games player in NEAFL history off of Thunder veteran forward Darren Ewing before he sustained a leg injury in his side’s loss to the Gold Coast in Round 6. Toye will likely be out of action for a number of weeks, and the gap he leaves in the Hornets’ lineup will be a big loss.
2. Thunder star midfielder Abraham Ankers polled eight NEAFL MVP votes against Southport, the second-most of any player on the ground behind premiership Shark Tyler Roos. Ankers currently sits in seventh place in the award with 20 votes. Another big performance from him will go a long way to getting the Territory over the line.
3. The Thunder are yet to win at home in 2019. Considering the NT’s standing in the competition, they need to be competitive at home. Fans will be desperate to see a victory sometime soon and Aspley are the prime target to knock off this season.
Thunder midfielder Kieren Parnell was one of the better players in the Territory’s loss last week. The 20-year-old collected 15 disposals, six marks and four marks, both rebounding from defence and feeding the forward line. Coming back from some injury troubles, it will be interesting to see his form progress with some consistent game-time.
STATS THAT MATTER
Aspley and NT Thunder are ranked ninth and 10th respectively in clearances over the first six rounds of the season. Furthermore, the two clubs are also ranked first (NT Thunder) and second (Aspley) for points scored against them in stoppage clearances. A huge task looms for their respective midfields to win the battle on Saturday night.
Thunder by six points.
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