By JESS WEBSTER
Canberra has won three games in a row for the first time in club history with a gritty 22-point victory over Brisbane at UNSW Canberra Oval on Saturday.
A four-goal-to-none opening term set the tone for the Demons early, and they withstood a second half charge from the Lions to win 9.12 (66) to 6.8 (44).
The victory places the Demons in equal third on the ladder at the halfway point of the season, and marks a third win over AFL sides – the GIANTS, Gold Coast and now Brisbane – so far this season.
Although down to 12 AFL-listed players, Canberra coach Kade Klemke said it was going to be a challenge for his young side to come out on top and continue their quest for a maidan finals berth.
“We knew it was going to be a pretty tough day,” he told neafl.com.au.
“I thought our backline stood up really well today. We had a good first half… and that’s what really won us the game in the end.”
The Demons led by 25 points at quarter-time and kept the Lions goalless until Ben Sloan broke the drought at the nine-minute mark of the second.
Canberra extended its lead to 35 at half-time, and the margin blew out to a game-high 40 points during the third after a Tom Faul major.
But the lions found some momentum, outscoring the Demons 3.4 to 2.3 in the third quarter to crawl back to 28 points at the final change.
Consecutive goals to start the final term reduced the margin to just 15 points, but Canberra steadied to notch up their fifth win of the year thanks to Ben Fulford’s third goal.
Alex Smout continued his fine year with 34 disposals and eight clearances, while Sam Martyn was important in defence with 31 disposals and eight rebound 50s.
Klemke said it was important for the Demons’ midfield to hold their own.
“In the first half we won the contest against those guys. Mitch Maguire started on fire and they ended up putting a tag on him, which is a credit to him having an AFL-listed player tag you and still finishing the game with 29 (disposals),” he said.
“The good things about our mids today was… that we’re not relying on Maguire.”
The Lions appeared to lose Tom Bell to injury in the first term with the star midfielder not coming back on to the field after the first break.
Ryan Bastinac (32 disposals, six clearances), and Rhys Mathieson (28 disposals, eight clearances, two goals) were among their best players.
Canberra’s next test will be against NT Thunder at UNSW Canberra Oval next Saturday night, while Brisbane has the bye.
Canberra Demons v Brisbane Lions at UNSW Canberra Oval
CANBERRA 4.2 6.6 8.9 9.12 (66) BRISBANE 0.1 1.1 4.5 6.8 (44)
GOALS – Canberra: B Fulford 3 T Faul 2 A Swan 2 M Hardie J Powell. Brisbane: R Mathieson 2 B Sloan L Dawson C Franks E Hunt. BEST – Canberra: A Smout I Taylor S Martyn M Maguire A Baker A Swan. Brisbane: J Kennealy T Matthews R Bastinac R Mathieson M Hinge C Franks.