By MYLES STEDMAN
NEAFL ROUND 6
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Sydney University (2nd) v Canberra Demons (5th) at BISP, 12pm
*This match will be streamed live on NEAFL TV (youtube.com/northeastafl) *Live Champion Data statistics available on the Official NEAFL App
Coming off a bye, Sydney University remain the only undefeated team in the NEAFL, and are hot favourites to keep it that way with a home game against the Canberra Demons this week.
In any other year, a match-up between these two with the Students hosting would be an up-and-down W for Tom Morrison’s men, but in his second year in charge of Canberra, Kade Klemke is distinctly exerting his influence on this team. They may have only started 2-3, but boast two impressive wins over the Redland Bombers and Gold Coast SUNS, and pushed their Round 6 opponents all the way in the opening round.
Meanwhile, the story is simple for Sydney University – continue winning. Morrison was wary of the upstart Demons after their last game against the Southport Sharks, reinforcing he did not want to slip into the habit of losing winnable outings, which last year’s team did too easily at the back end of 2017.
*Full teams to be announced Friday morning
Round 1, 2018: Sydney Uni 11.25 (81) d Canberra 13.5 (83) at Allinsure Park Round 20, 2017: Sydney Uni 15.17 (107) d Canberra 6.12 (48) at UNSW Canberra Oval Round 15, 2017: Sydney Uni 18.25 (133) d Canberra 4.8 (32) at BISP
1. Rebounding from a bye is bread-and-butter stuff for NEAFL teams hoping to build a successful season; there is no shortage of them for any of the league’s clubs, and the Students enjoyed their first week off last weekend. While a home start against a club with a negative record may not seem like the toughest “welcome back”, those who have watched Canberra this season would attest otherwise.
2. Last week’s impressive win at home over Gold Coast was “show me” stuff from the Demons, who are, at this early stage, looking like a team with finals potential. UNSW Canberra Oval is proving tougher and tougher to win at for visiting teams, which the Sydney Uni would attest to, scraping by with a eight-point win in Round 1. However, the real test for the men from the nation’s capital comes when they depart the ACT; this week’s game will prove an effective measuring stick of how far they’ve come.
3. Midfield defense will be huge for Canberra if they hope to grab a win away from home this week. Although I am a known opponent of statistics versus what the eye can see, 14 tackles for the Demons’ Andrew Swan last week is an incredible number, and he will need to back that up this week to stop the most score-heavy midfield in the NEAFL.
In a midfield dominated by established NEAFL superstars, Adam Gulden has stood out in his first year in the competition as just another player the Students are capable of finding to help them win. Coming from the SANFL, Gulden is another in the Students’ lineup capable of scoring goals from the midfield, which has become as important as ever in the modern game, and is another key to their dangerous counter.
STATS THAT MATTER
All it takes is a glance at the score from the Round 1 matchup to notice what Canberra may emphasize this week – defense. The Students were woeful in front of goal in the opening week, kicking 11.25 to their opponent’s 13.5. It’s unlikely the blue and gold will kick that poorly again all season, meaning the Demons’ protection of their defensive 50 will need to be far better. Oh, and watch out for them on the rebound too. Possessing some of the best counter-attackers in the game, Sydney University can score from almost anywhere.
Sydney University by 30 points.