By JESS WEBSTER
Canberra has soared to the top of the NEAFL ladder for their first time in club history following a hard-fought 21-point victory over a gallant NT Thunder at TIO Stadium on Saturday night.
The Demons had to come from behind in the last term, kicking four unanswered goals against their injury-hit opponents to triumph 16.12 (108) to 12.15 (87) for their eighth consecutive victory.
But they were made to work for it in the Top End, twice needing to come from behind during the match in a see-sawing affair.
Desperate to win on their home turf, ninth-placed NT Thunder booted the first two goals of the game to have the Demons on the back foot.
They responded with five of the next seven to take a four-point lead into the first change.
The contest tightened up in the second with the Demons winning the term by seven points to maintain the ascendency at the main break.
But NT Thunder weren’t going down without a fight. Champion full-forward Darren Ewing came out after half-time and made a statement, kicking three consecutive goals to turn the match on its head and give the Territorians a 10-point lead.
Ben Fulford provided the steadier for Canberra but NT Thunder kept coming, opening up a game-high 17-point lead with Ewing’s sixth goal at the 25-minute mark of the third.
Canberra then kicked in to gear with Fulford, Tom Faul and Jacob Turner all producing goals in time-on to cut the margin to one point and set the match up for a grandstand finish.
The home side was first to strike via Nick Yarran to start the final term, with scores twice drawing level in the first 15 minutes as the two sides traded blows.
In the end, it was the Demons who ran out the match stronger, booting 3.3 in the last 10 minutes of the match to seal victory.
MVP leader Mitch Maguire was again outstanding for Canberra with 34 disposals and eight clearances, while Fulford bagged five goals and Harry Carr (12 disposals, three goals) and Angus Baker (25 disposals) performing well.
For NT Thunder, midfielder Abraham Ankers continues to be a shining light for the club this season with 26 disposals, five clearances and a goal.
The Rioli brothers, Shannon and Ben, combined for 56 disposals and Joe Anderson and Ewing (six goals) were among their better players.
Canberra has the bye next week whilst NT Thunder stays home to host Aspley next Saturday night.
NT Thunder v Canberra Demons at TIO Stadium
CANBERRA 5.2 7.6 11.7 16.12 (108) NT THUNDER 4.4 5.7 10.14 12.15 (87)
GOALS – Canberra: B Fulford 5 H Carr 3 S Martyn 2 J Turner J Powell T Faul A Bruce L McKay N Richards. NT Thunder:D Ewing 6 K Riley 2 A Ankers L Patrick P Boles N Yarran.
BEST – Canberra: M Maguire B Fulford H Carr A Baker S Martyn N Richards. NT Thunder: A Ankers J Anderson D Ewing J Stokes S Smith S Rioli.