By JESS WEBSTER
Southport has sent an ominous warning to anyone on top of the NEAFL ladder after thrashing Canberra by 103 points at Fankhauser Reserve on Saturday.
The 26.14 (170) to 10.7 (67) result was the second time this season the Sharks have beaten the side on top of the ladder by over 100 points – the first coming against Sydney University in Round 10 when they reduced the Students to their lowest ever NEAFL score.
This time, the Sharks had to come from behind at quarter-time before opening the floodgates, incredibly kicking 22 goals to five in the final three quarters.
Mitch Hardie was the star up forward for the Demons early, kicking three goals in the first seven minutes as the visitors worked themselves to a five-point buffer at the first break.
It took until the 12-minute mark of the second for Southport to regain the lead through Tom Wilkinson, as they booted seven goals to three to open up a 21-point advantage at the main break.
Whilst the contest was still in the balance, the Sharks had other ideas of a Demons comeback, piling on five goals to none in the third for a match-winning 52-point lead by the final break.
Southport didn’t let up in the last, adding further pain to the Demons by slamming on 10 goals to two in the final quarter.
Mitch Johnson returned to form after being dropped two weeks ago, finishing the game with five majors, whilst Wilkinson had four.
Josh Clayton led the midfield with 33 disposals and five clearances, and Wade Hancock played arguably his best match of the year with 24 disposals, 13 marks, six inside 50s and three goals in a dominant display at half-forward.
For Canberra, Hardie battled hard to finish with 22 disposals and four majors, and Sam Martyn collected 23 disposals.
But it was Southport’s contested ball-winning ability around the ground which has proven its strength numerous times this season.
The Sharks had six players – Wilkinson, Lee Dale, Clayton, Seb Tape, Dylan Fyfe and Andrew Boston – who had 10 or more contested possessions. Canberra’s best was full-back Alex Paech with nine.
Southport – which moved back in to top spot by percentage – face Aspley next week. The Demons will look to respond against Sydney at home.
Southport Sharks v Canberra Demons at Fankhauser Reserve
SOUTHPORT 4.2 11.6 16.11 26.14 (170) CANBERRA 5.1 8.3 8.7 10.7 (67)
GOALS – Southport: M Johnson 5 T Wilkinson 4 J Baxter 3 W Hancock 3 M Manteit 2 J O’Shea 2 K Sheers S Tape J Hall M Doran T Roos J Clayton D Mutu. Canberra: M Hardie 4 B Fulford 2 H Carr T Highmore A Bruce J Osborne.
BEST – Southport: W Hancock T Wilkinson T Roos S Tape A Boston J Clayton. Canberra: M Hardie S Martyn C Milne I Taylor C Owen-Auburn.