Records tumbled in south-east Brisbane on Saturday afternoon as Canberra produced a quintessential underdog performance against Redland, storming to an 82-point victory and their first win on the year.
The Demons, forever removed from finals calculations since entering the competition in 2016, recorded the side’s best ever win in NEAFL history against a disappointing Bombers outfit at Scottdale Park.
The 9.10 (64) to 22.15 (147) score line was also Canberra’s highest ever score in club history.
Canberra’s 82-point victory far surpassed the previous 43-point record the side achieved in Round 10, 2016, against Brisbane.
Following his side’s historic win, Demons’ playing head coach, Kade Klemke, admitted his side may finally play finals in 2018.
“If we can do that every week, yeah, we’ll make finals,” Klemke told neafl.com.au.
“For our boys, we have to back up these performances. Yes we can, but for us, it’s not a big focus point. Our focus is to grow as a team every week.”
Klemke was perhaps most pleased by the manner in which his side responded to a 0-2 start to the year with losses to Southport and Sydney University.
“I guess there were a lot of pleasing signs today. We came out and Southport, to their credit were fantastic, but the performance we out up, we weren’t very happy with,” he said.
“Our game against Sydney University was a bit better. There was stuff we still had to fix, but our efforts were there.
“I think we had both the effort and the skill today.”
For Redland, the loss plastered a 0-3 record to begin the season, but unfortunately, for the Bombers that has been the flavour for quite some time.
In eight NEAFL seasons, 23 sides have ended Round 3 without a win. Only three of those would go on to make qualify for finals. Redland now grow that infamous core to 24.
Having learnt their lesson from losses to the Students and Sharks in the opening two rounds, the Demons made the fast break on the game.
Canberra mounted a barrage on the Redland defence in the first term, piling on 20 inside 50s to 9. Inaccuracy plagues the away side yet their dominance, which produced a dozen scoring opportunities in the first 20 minutes, established a 30-point buffer at the first break.
It took until the 26-minute mark of the first quarter for the Bombers to even muster a score, a solitary behind, but that result seemed a miracle given how wasteful Redland were in disposal.
Redland’s day went form bad to worse when skipper Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds left the field with an ankle injury and didn’t take part in the match after quarter-time.
Canberra’s dominance continued after the break as goals to Luke McKay and Jarrod Osborne stretched the lead out to an insurmountable 43 points.
Redland finally produced a major in the second quarter, as Aaron Christensen and Matt Hammelmann planted a quiver of hope for the Bombers faithful.
With Bertoli-Simmonds out, Redland’s hand was forced into creating unorthodox centre bounce structures – a hail Mary of sorts, as Scott Miller and Matt Thompson were thrown into the gauntlet to generate some kind of spark.
The move, while forced, provided some spark for the side, as Thompson generated three centre clearances; leading to the Bombers’ quaint third quarter revival with further majors to Matt Hammelmann and Aaron Christensen.
From thereon, Canberra continued to steal the show, producing 19 scores to 13 in the second half. For Redland, six of those came after the 12-minute mark of the final term when the margin exceeded 80-points.
Within the battle, a battle between the Round 1 and Round 2 NEAFL Rising Star nominees waged on, but it was Mitch Maguire, who produced 27 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals, who won out.
Eleven Demons players found their way onto the scoresheet, including Luke McKay who kicked a team-high five goals.
“It was good that we didn’t have a dominant forward,” Klemke said.
“It was fantastic to see guys chipping in. What I love about our forward line is that we’re not predictable.
“I think that’s something Redland have, with Hammelmann and Paine as the two really good key forwards. At times, they probably rely on those guys too much.”
Hammelmann kicked a game-high six goals for the Bombers who lost the Inside 50 count 64-42 while Christensen and Paine were the only other goal kickers for the side.
Craig Malone dominated the ruck with 51 hit-outs – Canberra combining for just 26, however his efforts couldn’t be replicated on the ground as the Demons won the clearances +4 and contested possessions +9.
“I think last year, if we lost the contested footy, we lost games; if we won it, we won games,” Klemke said post-match, pleased by his sides efforts.
“We wanted to put that as a big focus. We’ve got some good young kids who use the ball well.
“We got smashed the last two weeks in the midfield, but I think today, our midfield were fantastic.”
Per Klemke’s comments, the focus now for Canberra is to replicate the win next week where they face a desperate Aspley side still searching for their first win of the season.
Redland will fly to Alice Springs to battle NT Thunder in a must-win game.
Redland Bombers v Canberra Demons at Scottsdale Park
CANBERRA 4.7 9.9 17.14 22.15 (147) REDLAND 0.1 3.2 5.5 9.10 (64)
GOALS – Canberra: L McKay 5 A Bruce 3 C Milne 2 J Turner 2 B Fulford 2 M Maguire 2 I Taylor 2 N Oakes A Baker L Meline D Roberts. Redland: M Hammelmann 6 A Christensen 2 J Paine.
BEST – Canberra: M Maguire A Bruce S Martyn L Meline L McKay C Milne. Redland: M Hammelmann S Mills A Williams.
By ANTHONY WINGARD