By Myles Stedman (NEAFL Media)
MATCH PREVIEW: Sydney University v Southport
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Sydney University v Southport Sharks at Henson Park, 12pm
*This match will be streamed live on NEAFL TV
After a one-week hiatus, the NEAFL returns to Sydney with a capital “R”, serving up an early season banger with Sydney University hosting the Southport Sharks. Only one team can remain undefeated, and with wins all up and down the coast, the Students will be hoping they have the match fitness to protect the house against Stephen Daniel’s surprising Sharks.
Southport will be banking on their opponent’s weariness through three tough weeks of travel early in the year, but that’s not to say a Sydney Uni slip-up will be the only chance the visitors have. Similar to their opponents, the secret to the Sharks’ success has been contributions from all throughout the rotation. A first-up win in Sydney will go a long way to giving Southport confidence they have what it takes to win the premiership in 2018.
RELATED: NEAFL Round 4: Team Selection
Round 7, 2017: Sydney Uni 18.22 (130) d Southport 5.13 (43) at BISP
Round 1, 2017: Sydney Uni 15.14 (104) d Southport 10.12 (72) at Fankhauser Reserve
Round 19, 2016: Sydney Uni 16.10 (106) d Southport 15.7 (97) at BISP
1. The travel will be talked about in the lead up to and during the game, with the Students having logged far more flying miles than the Sharks through the season’s first three weeks. Whoever manages their recovery better will thrive, whether it’s Southport using an easier schedule to their advantage, or Sydney University using their markedly tougher route to harden up.
2. On the similar subject of fatigue, if you look closely, you can see the Students’ injury-hit side being stretched like a rubber band; both the Canberra Demons and NT Thunder pushed them right to the brink, as did the Redland Bombers, sans the final 10 minutes of the game. While they may be enjoying robust contributions from players new to the team, strong, NEAFL-tested bodies will become more important as the season wears on. Is this the week the rubber brand snaps?
3. Speaking of injuries, Sydney Uni is hammered by them at present. Zac O’Brien will be missing for the next few months, and prized recruit Craig Bird is still a few weeks away. If the Students are performing this well without this much quality in their team, what will they be capable of when they return – especially with this much run in the legs of their role players?
Not one of the most heralded acquisitions of the off-season, Dylan Fyfe has been named in the Sharks’ best in his first three weeks of NEAFL football. Plucked from the TSL, Fyfe is the kind of player standing up through the first month of the season contributing to his team’s early success. If he enjoys another big game, chances are Southport will be a good chance of a win.
STATS THAT MATTER
Despite not troubling them thus far, the Sharks have been far from premiership-quality in front of goal. Through three weeks, their score is 43.46, which includes an embarrassing effort of 13.23 last week against the Aspley Hornets. If they bring their kicking boots this week, things could get ominous for the rest of the league, but if they don’t, Sydney University may make them pay.
Sydney University by 10 points.