Angus Baker celebrates a goal for Canberra. Photo: Highflyer Images.

 

We’ve hit the halfway mark of the 2018 NEAFL season, and it’s all set up for an exciting run towards finals!

In Part 1 of our mid-season reviews, we take a look at how Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Aspley and the GIANTS are placed.

 

By Cameron Smith

BY THE NUMBERS

Position: 3rd
Win-loss: 5-4 (153.6%)
Streak: L-W-W-W-BYE-W-W-L-L-L

Top 5 NEAFL MVP Votes

40: Tom Bell (5th in comp)
24: Ryan Lester
18: Claye Beams
12: Matt Eagles
10: Ben Keays
10: Josh Walker

SNAPSHOT:The Brisbane Lions started their premiership defense well, winning five games in a row, after a one-point loss to NT Thunder in their first match. However, in recent weeks the Lions have been struggling. Brisbane have lost their last three matches against Sydney, Aspley and Canberra, which were tough but winnable games for the premiers. Brisbane’s ball movement, which was very impressive at the start of the season, has not been as good in the last three weeks as injuries have played a role in their weakened sides. But if they are able to fix it quickly, the Lions will be dangerous come finals.

BEST WIN: Their best win of the season was their first of the season back in Round 2 against the Swans. Brisbane dominated in the second half to win by 50 points at Burpengary with Ryan Lester, Claye Beams, Tom Bell and Corey Lyons all finishing with 30 disposals or more. The win was the start of their run of five wins in a row.

WORST LOSS: Their worst loss was also against the Swans when they played them for the second time. The Lions had 19 AFL-listed players compared to the Swans 11, but were unable to get over the line losing by 17 points. The loss ended the Lions five-game winning streak and began their three-game losing streak, which they will want to snap out of quickly.

STAR POWER: Ryan Lester has played four NEAFL games for the Lions this year, earning his AFL recall after being omitted from the side earlier in the year. Lester has now played the last two games for the AFL side but in his four games in the NEAFL he received 24 MVP votes and was named in the Lions best every week. The Lions utility averaged 27 disposals at 86 per cent efficiency and demonstrated the positive attitude required to earn his spot back in the AFL team.

NEXT GENERATION: 19-year-old Mitchell Hinge has been really good in the last couple of weeks. The Lions rookie listed player has been dangerous on the half back line, averaging 23 disposals at 80 per cent efficiency, 10 marks (five intercepted), and four spoils in the last two weeks. With an increasing injury list, it is crucial for players like to Hinge to contribute, in the next part of the season if the Lions are to go back-to-back.

THE RUN HOME: The Brisbane Lions will play the GIANTS three more times, the SUNS and the Swans two more times, and the top two teams – Southport and Sydney University. With all those teams in the top six except for the GIANTS and the SUNS who sit just outside, meaning the Lions second half of the season will not be easy. Brisbane have only played one curtain raiser this season, so will enjoy that they will play five of their last nine matches as AFL curtain raisers.

NEXT FOUR: Bye, GIANTS (home), Sydney (away), Southport (away).

 

By Charlie Goodsir

BY THE NUMBERS

Position: 4th
Win-loss: 4-4 (123.8%)
Streak: L-L-BYE-L-L-W-W-W-W

Top 5 NEAFL MVP Votes:
33: Daniel Robinson (6th in comp)
35: Nic Newman
23: Darcy Cameron
14: Harry Marsh
12: James Rose

SNAPSHOT: The Sydney Swans have had rollercoaster season so far. The first four games were disastrous for the Swans as they suffered several close losses with inaccurate goal kicking costing them a victory on more than one occasion. The Swans finally got their first victory in Round 6 when they beat their cross-town rivals the GIANTS by 31 points. Since then, the Swans haven’t looked back as they keep going from strength to strength, culminating in their most recent win against the previously undefeated Sydney University.

BEST WIN: The Swans made a massive statement when they thrashed then ladder leaders Southport at the SCG. The Swans put together a true four quarter performance in their 88-point drubbing of the Sharks. The Swans kicked 10 goals in the final quarter to set up the impressive win and in doing so, made a massive statement to the competition. Their performance was so good that Sharks coach Steve Daniel said, “we (Southport) want to play like the Sydney Swans.”

WORST LOSS: At the early stage of the season, the Swans suffered a handful of close losses on the back of poor starts and inaccurate kicking.  However, the worst of those losses was the one-point loss against Aspley in Round 5 at the SCG. The Swans dominated the second half after trailing by three goals at half-time. The Swans were ahead late in the final quarter but some lapses in concentration in defence and woeful goal kicking allowed Aspley to hold on for the 11.6 (72) to 9.17 (71) victory.

STAR POWER: The Swans possess several AFL-listed players so you could take your pick in terms of star power, with Aliir Aliir, Daniel Robinson and Nic Newman all producing great performances week-in, week-out. Both Robinson and Newman sit in the top 10 of the NEAFL MVP voting while ruckman Darcy Cameron is in NEAFL Team of the Year form as he continues to knock on the door of an AFL berth.

NEXT GENERATION: The Swans are renowned for producing some of the best young talent in the NEAFL, with several young players like Tom McCartin and Ryley Stoddart given their AFL debuts this year. However, Academy talent Bailey Stewart has been phenomenal and is in strong contention for the 2018 NEAFL Rising Star Award. Stewart earned that nomination after he gathered 20 disposals and kicked two goals against Brisbane and proved it wasn’t an anomaly by amassing 25 touches, seven tackles and booting another three goals in a terrific display against Sydney Uni. With more time in the NEAFL, there is no telling where this prodigious talent can go.

THE RUN HOME: the Sydney Swans can make an assault on another top two-finish as they begin to get more AFL-listed players back from injury. Their next six matches will be telling – playing all three AFL clubs plus a long trip to Darwin to face NT Thunder sandwiched in the middle. They’ll finish off the season with games against Canberra, the GIANTS and SUNS.

NEXT FOUR: Redland (Away), Gold Coast (Away), Bye, Brisbane (Home).

 

By Maddy McCaskill

BY THE NUMBERS

Position: 5th
Win-loss: 5-4 (112.56%)
Streak: L-L-W-L-W-L-W-W-W

Top 5 NEAFL MVP Votes:

44: Mitch Maguire (3rd in comp)
29: Alex Smout
18: Mitch Hardie
13: Angus Baker
10: Aaron Bruce

SNAPSHOT: It has been an up-and-down rollercoaster season for the Demons after suffering some big losses and some huge victories. However, this has been the Demons best season to date and they continue to surprise the competition with their strength, fitness and pressure. They’ve already created history with three wins in a row for the first time ahead of a big second half of the year.

BEST WIN: The Demons 83-point victory over Redland at Scottsdale Park in Round 3 has to be their biggest win to date, not only this season but perhaps in their entire history. They were accurate, fit and fast and really stepped up around the contest, something they struggled with last year. This win showed the rest of the competition that they’re here to make finals this season.

WORST LOSS: While the Demons average losing margin (26.25) is considerably lower than what it has been in previous seasons, there was one unfortunate loss that put a damper on the start of their season. This was when Southport Sharks smashed Demons 115-53 at home in the season opener in front of their friends and family. Canberra went in to the match full of confidence after a strong pre-season, but were quickly handed a reality check by a new-look Sharks outfit.

STAR POWER: Mitch Maguire has undeniably been Demons’ most influential player on the field. Ranking third on the NEAFL MVP voting, Maguire has also landed himself a Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star nomination due to his consistent performance throughout the midfield each week. He’s averaging 27.75 disposals, 4.2 tackles and 1 goal a game which is the reason he is continually among their best players each week.

NEXT GENERATION: The Demons have given a lot of their young players a run this season which has been the influencing factor in their fitness and strength on the field. Angus Baker is one of these young guns consistently dominating each week alongside Mitchell Hardie who is a regular in their best players.

THE RUN HOME: The Demons have six more games at home and four games away to finish the season. Their biggest challenge will be facing Southport at Fankhauser Reserve but they have a strong chance at making finals if their form continues at this level.

NEXT FOUR: NT Thunder (home), Aspley (away), Sydney Uni (home), Redland (home).

 

By Cameron Smith

BY THE NUMBERS

Position: 6th
Win-loss: 5-4 (101%)
Streak: L-L-L-W-W-W-L-BYE-W-W

Top 5 NEAFL MVP Votes

45: Matthew Payne (2nd in comp)
33: Andrew Swallow
19: Reece Toye
14: Jake Spencer
10: Ben Warren

SNAPSHOT: The Hornets had a huge turnover of their list at the start of the season, adding big recruits like Andrew Swallow, Jake Spencer and Jono Freeman to their list. The Hornets took a while to gel, losing their first three matches but have well and truly clicked into gear winning five of their last six to well and truly signal their finals intentions in 2018.

BEST WIN: Their best win was against Brisbane in Round 9 at Maroochydore defeating last year’s premiers by 19 points. Matt Payne dominated with 35 disposals and collected 10 NEAFL MVP votes as the Hornets turned around some recent horror losses to the Lions last year.

WORST LOSS: Their worst loss was against the NT Thunder in Round 2, when they were beaten by 38 points when their traditional rivals were simply too good. Their most recent win which was a 37-point win against the Thunder demonstrates how much Aspley have improved as a group over the season.

STAR POWER: Matthew Payne has shown how much of superstar he is in the first 10 rounds. Averaging 30 disposals a game, Payne has been an important weapon of a very impressive Aspley midfield cartel. Payne is second in the NEAFL MVP leaderboard after collecting maximum votes two consecutive weeks in a row.

NEXT GENERATION: The Stackelberg brothers – Cody (17 years old) and Connor (20) have been entertaining to watch this season. Their attack on the football and swagger around goals has been impressive. Connor played his first game of the season with Cody against Sydney University on his debut; a special day for the Stackelbergs. Rising Star nominee Will Gowers has been another handy pickup for the side as he continues to develop in to a regular senior player.

THE RUN HOME: No run home is easy, in such an even NEAFL season. However, Aspley will certainly enjoy only playing one AFL club in their last nine matches. The Hornets will be tested though, playing all the non-AFL clubs at least once.

NEXT FOUR: Sydney University (away), Canberra, GIANTS, Bye.

 

By Charlie Goodsir

BY THE NUMBERS

Position: 6th
Win-loss: 4-5 (85.77%)
Streak: W-L-BYE-L-L-L-L-W-W-W

Top 5 NEAFL MVP Votes:

17: Nick Shipley
14: Aidan Bonar
14: Isaac Cumming
14: Jeremy Finalyson
10: Zach Sproule
10: Matt Buntine

SNAPSHOT: The GIANTS have had a disappointing season so far, but have sprung to life in recent weeks. Despite winning their first game of the season, the GIANTS had a five-game losing streak in which at times, they didn’t look at all competitive. However, the GIANTS have rebounded well as they have won their last three games which included a strong win against the NT Thunder in Darwin. A big second half of the season is needed if the GIANTS have any chance of securing a finals spot.

BEST WIN: After a very disappointing season in 2017, the GIANTS sent a clear message in Round 1 with a gritty four-point victory over their cross-town rivals in the Sydney Swans at the SCG. The GIANTS were challenged at regular periods by the Swans and held their nerve throughout the match. Despite falling off after the win, the victory meant that the GIANTS started the season with a win and ensured that the GIANTS wouldn’t have a long losing streak at the start of the year like last year.

WORST LOSS: There have been a few bad losses for the GIANTS in 2018 with the worst of those losses was the 93-point drubbing at the hands of the Brisbane Lions in Round 4, in which the GIANTS conceded 42 points in the final quarter alone in the 19.19 (133) to 6.4 (40) defeat. The GIANTS were also kept scoreless in the third quarter in a sorry display.

STAR POWER: Despite only playing two games this season, the clear star for the GIANTS NEAFL side has been Jeremy Finlayson. Finlayson was exceptional in the GIANTS’ win against Redland in which he had 27 disposals at an efficiency of 85.2 per cent. Finlayson also had six inside 50s, four tackles, three clearances and 2.2 in a dominant display. He has rightly been given opportunities in the AFL this year but when he has been in the NEAFL, he has performed like an AFL-listed player.

NEXT GENERATION: Aiden Bonar looks to be a genuine star and is remarkable that he is only 19-years old. Bonar has been among the best players nearly every single week and especially in the early losses was a lone star. Bonar has averaged 21.6 disposals this year with 11 of those being contested along with 5.7 clearances and 4.6 inside 50s. Furthermore, Bonar’s pressure is integral in his game as he averages 6.4 tackles a game. Bonar will look to improve his fitness in the second half of the year.

THE RUN HOME: The GIANTS are only one win out of the top six however, they have the disadvantage of poor percentage. The GIANTS will face a lot of tough teams in the run home including Sydney Uni and Aspley and will also face the Swans and the Gold Coast twice and the Brisbane Lions three times. The GIANTS must ensure that they win the majority of these games and that they win well to increase their percentage because in such a tight season, team’s percentages may be the difference.

NEXT FOUR: Bye, Brisbane (Away), Aspley (Home), Sydney (Away)

 

 

 

 

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