Aspley Hornets put themselves on the winners list for the first time this season as they wore down an unlucky Canberra to come away with a 15-point win at UNSW Canberra Oval.
All week there was talk of the Demons breaking their unfortunate tradition of never winning successive games, and it seemed all possible until the third quarter where they let Hornets set up a 12.16 (88) to 10.13 (73) victory.
It was high pressure footy from the first bounce, as Hornets would score and the Demons would follow in a game of trail, never letting the margin increase more than two goals in the first half.
Aspley took control right from the start with their run and carry, but the Demons put up a strong defence with their ability to chase and shut down, tallying 66 tackles for the game compared to Aspley’s 39.
This was until the third quarter where Matthew Payne absolutely dominated the midfield for Hornets, racking up 32 disposals for the game, enabling them to drill the ball into their forward line pushing them 24 points up at three-quarter time.
It was too little and too late for Demons when they scored the last four goals of the game, but it showed there was no shortage of determination.
Aspley coach John Blair was more than happy with his team and their ability to outplay a strong side, particularly after losing ruckman Jake Spencer to injury.
“We were good around the contest, we spread pretty well and we defended well in terms of their running game,” he told neafl.com.au.
“They got us in the last 10 mins, but we had been down two players by well and truly half-time, which starts to eat into you, but it was a really good performance.
“We knew that they play a very good running game and use the ball well, they’re a good side. They’re not the Canberra of three years ago.”
Blair was pleased with individual players across the ground and there were some major positives to take out of today’s game, including James Nelis and Jono Freeman who moved in to the ruck to cover for Spencer.
Another standout for Blair was 32-year-old Payne, who finished with 32 disposals, nine clearances and four inside 50s in a best-on-ground performance.
“He’s an absolute freak. Somewhere along the lines someone made a massive error in whether Payne should’ve been given the opportunity to play AFL footy,” Blair said.
“It didn’t happen, but he’s gone on to carve out a wonderful career for himself in this league.”
Canberra were well served by ruckman Cameron Milne (24 hit-outs, one goal) and Rising Star nominee Mitch Maguire, who has continued his outstanding season with a further 30 disposals, nine clearances, four inside 50s and a goal.
Aspley will take on Sydney at the SCG next week, while Canberra hosts Gold Coast at UNSW Canberra Oval
Canberra Demons v Aspley Hornets at UNSW Oval Canberra
ASPLEY 3.3 5.8 10.9 12.16 (88) CANBERRA 3.1 5.5 6.9 10.13 (73)
GOALS – Aspley: J Freeman 3 B Batchelor 2 B Warren 2 J Nelis 2 J Coghlan R Toye B Nelis. Canberra: B Fulford A Bruce J Nunn C Milne D Roberts M Maguire M Hardie J Powell
BEST – Aspley: M Payne G Grose J Freeman J Allen A Swallow J Nelis. Canberra: C Milne M Maguire K Klemke L Meline N Richards