NEAFL ROUND 5
Saturday, May 5, 2018 Canberra Demons (6th) v Gold Coast SUNS (4th) at UNSW Canberra Oval, 12pm *Live Champion Data statistics available on the Official NEAFL App
When the Gold Coast SUNS and Canberra Demons take to the ground on Saturday, both teams will be hoping to secure their place in the top six. The SUNS are sitting comfortably in fourth place – and not even a loss will see them drop out of their strong position – while anything but a win for the Demons will likely result in the club falling towards the bottom of the pack.
The SUNS have started the 2018 NEAFL season strongly, recording only one loss to a red-hot Lions side. This is particularly impressive given the club’s relatively difficult start to the season, facing off against Brisbane, Sydney, GWS and Aspley all in the first month.
Comparatively, the Demons will be less than thrilled with their performance across the first four rounds of competition, with only one win to their name. In particular, the men from the nation’s capital will be ruing the missed opportunities that saw them suffer close losses to both Sydney University and Aspley.
*Full teams to be announced Friday morning.
Round 13, 2017: Gold Coast 19.8 (122) d Canberra 5.10 (40) at UNSW Canberra Oval Round 13, 2016: Gold Coast 16.13 (109) d Canberra 15.7 (97) at UNSW Canberra Oval Round 20, 2015: Gold Coast 17.22 (124) d Canberra at Metricon Stadium
1. After a tight loss last week to the otherwise winless Hornets, the Demons will be keen to get their season back on track. To do so, however, they will have to make history and secure the club’s first ever win against the Gold Coast SUNS – a feat that has remained elusive since the Demons joined the NEAFL in 2016.
2. Despite starting the season at 3-1, the SUNS currently rank last in the NEAFL for inside 50s (44.5) and sit in the bottom half of the table for the average number of points scored per game. Clearly, the men from the Gold Coast are winning on the back of their impressive defence – leading the league in tackles (77.8) – not their offense. This weakness was clear in their Round 3 loss to the Lions, with the SUNS unable to keep pace with Brisbane on the scoreboard and ultimately losing by 47 points. The Demons will be aiming to emulate this Lions’ performance in order to come away with the four points this weekend.
3. While not necessarily known for their attacking prowess, the Demons’ sole win of 2018 will provide them with confidence that they have the skill off the boot to outscore the SUNS. Canberra beat Redland in Round 3 by their greatest ever margin (82), while also posting the highest total in the club’s short history (147). If the Demons can recapture this attacking form – and forget their comparatively lacklustre Round 4 performance against Aspley – then the SUNS may find it hard to keep up.
After four rounds of football, the Demons have already racked up two Rising Star nominations thanks to the hard work of ace midfielder Mitch Maguire and the skilled defence of Angus Baker. Maguire was the Demons’ strongest performer in their loss to Aspley – with 32 disposals, eight clearances and four inside 50s – and Canberra will be hoping the GIANTS Academy product dominates on their home turf this Saturday. For the SUNS, many eyes rest on 18-year-old Jacob Dawson, who continues to push his case for an AFL debut. Dawson had his best game of 2018 in the Gold Coast’s Round 4 win against Sydney – with 33 disposals, seven marks, five rebound 50s and six clearances – and he’ll no doubt be hoping to build on this performance in Round 5.
STATS THAT MATTER
The SUNS are currently second in the competition for contested possessions (153.5), while the Demons are languishing at the bottom of the table (131.8). If the SUNS continue to dominate the contested ball, then the Demons will struggle to keep a hold of the ball and create the scoring opportunities they will so desperately need.
By SARAH KRAUSE