Jono Freeman (left) celebrates a goal with teammates. Photo: TJ Yelds/NEAFL.

By CAMERON SMITH

 

NEAFL ROUND 15

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Aspley Hornets (5th) v Southport Sharks (1st) at Graham Road, 1.30pm
*This match will be streamed live on NEAFL TV (youtube.com/northeastafl)
*Live Champion Data statistics available on the Official NEAFL App

SUMMARY

Aspley returns to Graham Road this week with one simple ambition, to beat Southport. The Hornets, fresh off the bye, will be looking to return to the winner’s circle after losses to Canberra and the GIANTS, against a team that comprehensively beat them earlier in the year.

Southport, which overcame two losses in a row just over a month ago, will be looking to continue their run of four wins in a row. The Sharks, in what could be a season-defining win for the club, beat the Brisbane Lions in a thriller by two points at a wet Fankhauser Reserve last week.

Southport now sit one game clear on top of the ladder and look set to make an impact in this year’s finals series after missing the last two years. With both teams inside the top six, and still to meet again in the home and away season, this match is a great taster of what is still to come in 2018.

*Full teams will be announced Friday morning.

RECENT ENCOUNTERS

Round 3, 2018: Southport 13.23 (101) d Aspley 7.7 (49) at Fankhauser Reserve
Round 20, 2017: Aspley 20.12 (132) d Southport 13.9 (87) at Graham Road
Round 6, 2017: Aspley 13.10 (88) d Southport 8.12 (60) at Fankhauser Reserve

TALKING POINTS

1. With only two more rounds until NEAFL MVP votes are withheld, this match has the potential to have a huge say in who will be this year’s winner. Two-time winner and Aspley midfielder Matthew Payne leads at the moment with Southport’s Josh Clayton breathing down his neck. Clayton, alongside Canberra’s Mitch Maguire, only trail Payne by two votes, with Southport counterpart Andrew Boston sitting in third. Aspley’s Andrew Swallow rounds out the NEAFL MVP top 10, headlining a star-studded clash this weekend.

2. With both clubs having very talented midfields, it is going to be important that both teams make the most of their opportunities inside 50. Southport has the best scoring shot per inside 50 percentage in the competition, scoring 51 per cent of the time that they go inside 50. Aspley has the equal lowest scoring per inside percentage (41 per cent) and will need to make sure that they make the most of their time inside 50 if they are to win.

3. Southport was comprehensive winners over Aspley in Round 3, with 22 more scoring shots. The win was set up by manic tackling pressure, led by Charlie Ford with 12 tackles. The Sharks had 63 more possessions than the Hornets but still were able to have 13 more tackles, a statistic Southport Coach Stephen Daniel was very happy with that afternoon.

ROOKIE WATCH

Brandon Batchelor has been a solid contributor for the Hornets, in his debut season for the club. The Tasmanian has provided depth for the midfield and has also been handy up forward kicking 10 goals. The 21-year-old might not get a lot of disposals, but he wins a lot of contested ball and makes a lot of tackles, which is crucial for team success. With finals just around the corner, it is the perfect time for him to perform for his club.

STATS THAT MATTER

Southport has not beaten Aspley at Graham Road in their last six attempts, with their most recent win at ground being in Round 6, 2012.

PREDICTION

Southport by 18 points.

 

 

 

Join our NEAFL Tipping Competition for your chance to win cash! Register here.

 

Don’t forget to download our free NEAFL App, featuring live Champion Data stats, player bios and more! Available now from the Google Play and Apple stores.

Have your say! Follow the NEAFL on Twitter (@neaflofficial), Instagram (@neaflofficial) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/neaflofficial).