By Mitch Terpstra/NEAFL
The Canberra Demons have celebrated Aaron Bruce’s record breaking 155th NEAFL game with a history-making 145-point win at UNSW Canberra Oval on Saturday.
Canberra ran riot from the opening bounce and did not look back as they secured a much-needed percentage-boosting win 28.19 (187) to 6.6 (42) victory.
It was a historic day for the Canberra Demons outfit. As well as Aaron Bruce’s milestone the home team produced their biggest ever score and highest ever winning margin in their history.
The NT side were on the back foot early with two late outs from the side reducing them to playing 22 players out of a possible 23 for the game once emergency Joel Budarick came in.
Despite this, Canberra coach Kade Klemke said that their focus was on themselves for the highly important match.
“I know the Thunder were struggling with the amount of injuries, and form. They only had 22 players today, so we knew that we didn’t want to focus on them at all and we didn’t want to think that it was going to be an easy game,” Klemke told neafl.com.au.
“We really wanted to focus on what we can do well.”
It was a cold start for the Thunder as the Demons ran away with a quick start to the match, kicking six goals to one in the first term.
Canberra midfielder Kel Evans was dynamite through the middle of the ground for Canberra.
Playing his best game for the club, in a best on ground performance, Evans collected 29 disposals, 11 marks, eight inside 50s and four goals.
The Demons were dominant with possession of the ball and moving to all parts of the ground with their short chip around game plan. In the process of the win the Demons racked up the highest number of disposals for a club in a single game this year with 500.
Kieran Parnell was a shining light for the NT Thunder off the halfback line. Parnell earned 19 disposals, seven marks and six rebound 50s and was the catalyst in setting up one of Ben Rioli’s three goals.
The Thunder were struggling to find targets up forward for scoring opportunities as players were squeezed into one half of the ground, resulting in the Thunder struggling to get the ball past the halfway mark.
The NT Thunder started the second half started the right way as they were able to hold the home team goalless for the first 16 minutes whilst kicking the first two goals for the third quarter.
That patch of play the only slightly disappointing facet for the game for Klemke in his side’s historic win.
“I thought that we were really good for three quarters - maybe lasped for a little bit in that third - but very close to a four-quarter game for us today and really, really happy all across the ground,” he said.
“It was really good to see all the guys stand up and see everyone play their role.”
Once again, the break in play at three-quarter time did not halt the Demons as they extended on from their 88-point margin with a nine goal to nothing last quarter.
With the win heading towards the record books, the attention turned to the record-breaking man Bruce as he pushed forward in the final term.
Playing majority of the game on Canberra’s half back, Bruce pushed forward for some late shots on goal but was not able to complete the fairy-tale, finishing with 0.3.
“We, the coaching staff, didn’t even make the move, the boys moved ‘Moose’ [Aaron Bruce] forward and that just shows how much they love him as a captain and a leader,” Klemke said.
“[Bruce] has done a lot for this footy club. Probably the most pleasing thing for ‘Moose’ today would have been seeing the young guys play as a real team.
“He is really big on team success and I think he would have been proud of the boys playing that way.”
Canberra will now look to take the momentum from a two-game winning streak against their match with Southport at Phillip Oval next week.
Meanwhile, NT Thunder will look to recover and find their second win for the season when facing off against Redland in Alice Springs.
Canberra Demons v NT Thunder at UNSW Canberra Oval
CANBERRA 6.5 15.9 19.14 28.19 (187) NT THUNDER 1.1 3.2 6.4 6.6 (42)
GOALS – Canberra: K Evans 4 A Swan 4 H Carr 3 A Paech 3 T Faul 3 M Hardie 3 M Maguire 3 L Meline 2 J Osborne R Pollock J Powell. NT Thunder: B Rioli 3 C Williams D Johnston N Lockyer.
BEST – Canberra: K Evans M Maguire A Baker J Harper T Highmore M Hardie. NT Thunder: K Parnell J Budarick B Rioli A Tipungwuti J Budarick.