Match Preview : NT Thunder vs Canberra

By JUSTIN LILLECRAPP



NEAFL ROUND 16

Saturday, July 21, 2018


NT Thunder (9th) v Canberra Demons (3rd) at TIO Stadium, 6.30pm *This match will be streamed live on ThunderVision (youtube.com/territorythunder)

*Live Champion Data statistics available on the Official NEAFL App.


SUMMARY


Canberra Demons will be looking to extend their winning run to eight consecutive games when they come up against a struggling NT Thunder outfit in Darwin.


Canberra will be hungry to get the four points from the trip to the Top End before their final bye. Following that bye, Canberra’s premiership credentials will be seriously tested, as they play each of the other top five teams.


NT Thunder comes off the back of a 74-point loss to ladder leaders Sydney at home after a final quarter in which they conceded eight goals. It has been a fruitless season for the men from the Top End, with their finals aspirations in 2018 all but extinct. With only one game remaining against a team outside the top five, when they host Redland in Round 19, NT Thunder will want to put on a show for their home crowd and in doing so, put a dent into Canberra’s top two hopes.


*Full teams announced Friday morning


RECENT ENCOUNTERS


Round 11, 2018: Canberra Demons 17.12 (114) d NT Thunder 6.13 (49) at UNSW Canberra Oval Round 12, 2017: NT Thunder 21.16 (148) d Canberra Demons 7.9 (51) at UNSW Canberra Oval Round 6, 2017: Canberra Demons 12.10 (82) d NT Thunder 10.17 (77) at TIO Stadium


TALKING POINTS


1. With only one round remaining before the NEAFL MVP Award voting is withheld from the public, Canberra young gun Mitch Maguire holds a three-vote lead over Aspley midfielder Andrew Swallow. After gaining five votes in Canberra’s comfortable win against Redland, Maguire regained the lead. It would be a sensational storyline if he went on to win the award, as he has also been nominated for the Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star award for his Round 1 performance against Sydney Uni. Canberra teammate Alex Smout is in equal fifth place in NEAFL MVP voting on 48 votes, 15 behind Maguire. NT Thunder’s best hope is Abraham Ankers on 43 votes.


2. The clear stand out performer for NT Thunder this season and the past month of football has been contested beast Abraham Ankers. In a heavy loss against Sydney last week, Ankers polled seven votes to move into the top 10 of the NEAFL MVP award. Over the past four rounds, Ankers leads the competition in contested possessions (84), hard ball gets (35), loose ball gets (33) and clearances (45). Ankers will be hoping for some more assistance from the midfield group after his 36-disposal effort against Sydney was 16 more than teammate Richard Tambling’s 20 touches. Ankers had 36 disposals, including 26 contested possessions, in Round 11 last time the sides met.


3. Are Canberra genuine premiership contenders? With seven consecutive wins and favourites to make it eight in a row, Canberra could catapult themselves into the top two come Saturday night. Their best season to date since entering the competition was a seventh placed finish with seven wins in 2017. Their three wins against current top six sides have come in their last five matches against Brisbane, Aspley and Sydney Uni. In four weeks’ time, after clashes with second placed Southport (away) and ladder leaders Sydney at home after their bye, the competition will be aware of Canberra’s credentials. A win against either of the top two sides, will give Canberra the confidence required that they can beat the best teams when it matters most come finals.


ROOKIE WATCH


The entire Canberra Demons team? The nominee for the Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising Star Award in Round 15 was Jarred Osbourne, Canberra’s fifth Rising Star nominee in 2018. Osbourne joins NEAFL MVP leader Mitch Maguire, Angus Baker, Mitch Hardie and Alex Paech. It has been the stunning performance of their players aged 21 years or under that has ignited the Demons seven match unbeaten run which sees them in third place. With already five Rising Star nominees, 19-year-old Jack Powell can’t be far away from joining his team mates as he has kicked eight goals in his last four games and averages 16 disposals a game in 2018. Other regular under-21 players contributing strongly to Canberra’s season include Jacob Turner, Nathan Richards, Lucas Meline and Thomas Highmore.


STATS THAT MATTER


Canberra have a 3-2-win loss record against NT Thunder. They have beaten Redland five times and have also beaten the GIANTS on three occasions, the only two teams they have been as successful against in their short history. The last time these two teams played at TIO Stadium, it was a classic match, the Demons triumphing by five points.


PREDICTION


Canberra by 27 points.

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