By MITCH TERPSTRA (NEAFL Media)
The Canberra Demons have managed to hold off a brilliant last quarter comeback by the Gold Coast SUNS to win their opening game of the season by 11 points at Alan Ray Oval.
The SUNS came home hard, but the brilliant fightback came too little too late as the Demons held on for a 14.10 (94) to 13.5 (83) victory.
Canberra Demons playing coach Kade Klemke said he was happy with his side’s overall performance and were lucky to hold on in the last quarter.
“We were just trying to scrape through in that last quarter, we lost one early, in the first quarter… you know when you come up against AFL sides they’ve obviously had a pretty big preseason, being full-time athletes, you always know they are going to run off the game better,” he told neafl.com.au.
“I just think our first half was just fantastic and even the third quarter I was really really happy with the way we ran off, and our half backs were fantastic the way they were able to spread… I thought we out-transitioned them today.”
The Demons started in the best way possible with an opening five goal to one first quarter, with an emphasis on contested ball and spread across the ground paving the way for a 27-point advantage heading into the main break.
Heading into the match the SUNS line-up included 12 AFL-listed players headlined by Tom Nicholls having a strong presence within the ruck battle with 34 hit-outs and Will Brodie was able to do some damage on his way to collecting 37 disposals.
Sam Day was also presenting a strong option forward on his way to kicking a game high five goals.
The Demons had contributors all across the ground with Angus Baker and Mitch Maguire collecting 32 disposals each and forwards Rhys Pollock and Mitchell Hardie booting four and three goals respectively.
Going into the last term all signs pointed ominous to a strong Demons victory. With nothing to lose the SUNS were able to put together a very dominant display together as they went on to score six goals to one to finish the game strong.
Gold Coast NEAFL coach Nick Malceski was disappointed with his sides’ start to the game but was pleased with the way his side was able to complete the game.
“We knew Canberra were going to come out (strong), they are a good team, they were going to come out fast and they did jump us,” he said.
“I thought at the end for us to run it out after a six-day break was pretty positive.”
Both coaches conceded that their respective sides will need to improve their ball work around stoppages with contested ball an emphasis for the SUNS heading into next week.
Next week the Canberra Demons will be taking on the Redland Bombers at Scottsdale Park on Saturday at 12pm, while the SUNS will take on last years’ NEAFL grand finalists the Sydney Swans at Metricon Stadium at 10:45am next Sunday.
NEAFL ROUND 1
Canberra Demons v Gold Coast SUNS
CANBERRA: 5.3 7.7 13.8 14.10 (94) GOLD COAST: 1.1 3.3 7.4 13.5 (83)
GOALS – Canberra: R Pollock 4 M Hardie 3 A Bruce 2 T Faul 2 K Evans, M Maguire, J Powell. Gold Coast: S Day 5 B Crossley 3 J Mentha 2 C Beaman C. Nutting A. Young.
BEST – Canberra: A Baker R Pollock B Halse T Highmore M Maguire K Evans. Gold Coast: S Day M Rischitelli A Young W Brodie J Heron T Nicholls.