By ZACHARY GATES
NEAFL ROUND 4
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Southport Sharks (10th) v Canberra Demons (4th) at Fankhauser Reserve, 12pm
*Live Champion Data statistics will be available on the NEAFL App.
Two of last season’s biggest battlers will square off on Saturday afternoon when Southport plays host to Canberra. Victory to the winless Sharks could see the hosts claw their way off the bottom rung of the ladder, but an improved Canberra outfit chasing back-to-back wins for the first time in their short history presents a difficult challenge.
Southport impressed in the opening round of the season, leading Sydney University at the first and second breaks and trailing by just seven points at three-quarter time in its loss to the premiership aspirants, but have struggled to compete since. In their most recent outing, the Sharks were pummelled 103-44 at the hands of the Brisbane Lions on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Demons have been buoyed by a gritty 95-79 Round 3 win, in which they overpowered defending premiers the GIANTS at home. A win to the visitor’s tomorrow would add a third tally to their wins column, matching last season’s total within just their first four encounters of 2017.
Check out the full teams here.
Round 9, 2016: Southport 18.15 (123) d Canberra 12.11 (83) at Manuka Oval.
Round 2, 2016: Southport 19.16 (130) d Canberra 12.7 (79) at Fankhauser Reserve.
1. In one of the biggest feel-good stories in recent memory, Southport forward Jack Anthony will play his first game since sustaining a neck injury in a Round 10 match against Aspley at Faunkauser Reserve last season. He was cleared of any serious damage, but it did put and to the 2015 NEAFL Team of the Year member’s season. When Southport and Canberra last met in Round 9 last year, Anthony bagged six goals to play a crucial hand in his side’s win, after also having booted three in the Sharks’ Round 2 victory over the Demons.
2. Southport will be out to ensure that final-quarter fades don’t continue to become a habit. The Queensland outfit remained competitive for three quarters against the Lions on the weekend, but was blown off the park in the fourth term as Brisbane ran in five majors to the Sharks’ zero to record its thumping win. The side had been on the wrong end of a six-goals-to-two final-quarter blow-out at the hands of the Students just two weeks prior, after having trailed by just six points at three-quarter time. Southport’s feeble finishes stand in stark contrast to the Demons’ final-quarter surge on Saturday in which the hosts booted four goals to the GIANTS’ two, to overpower the defending premiers.
3. Before the Demons board their flight for Gold Coast Airport they will want to have one last check they have packed their goal-kicking radar. Kade Klemke’s men sent a stern warning to the competition in overrunning the GIANTS on Saturday, but wasteful shots at goal kept the visitors in the game deep into the final stanza. They were particularly wayward early in the third term before hitting their straps to head into three-quarter with a slim lead. The final 13.17 (95) to 12.7 (79) scoreline made for ugly reading.
Canberra forward Mitch Hardie was one of three Riverina products to make a move to the nation’s capital in the pre-season to join the Demons. Winning the Riverina Football League Rising Star Award in 2015 meant that Hardie’s enormous star potential was no secret, earmarking the Demons’ securing of his signature as a big plus. The 19-year-old has now shown in just three outings in Canberra colours that the furnace of the NEAFL is not too hot, finding regular ball on the half-forward line and proving handy in front of the sticks. The Leeton-Whitton product produced his best game of the season on the weekend, collecting 19 disposals and slotting an equal-high three majors in the Demons’ upset win over the GIANTS. Hardie is a name to keep an eye on tomorrow and in the future.
STATS THAT MATTER
Five out of the seven times a club beat 2016’s defending premiers NT Thunder last season, the winning side then backed up by an average margin of seven goals the following week. Having clinched a confidence-boosting win over this year’s defending premier the GIANTS, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues with Canberra.
Canberra by 15 points.
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