Match Preview: Sydney University vs NT Thunder

By Myles Stedman (NEAFL Media)

 NEAFL ROUND 7

Saturday, May 26, 2017

Sydney University (1st) v NT Thunder (6th) at BISP, 12pm
*This match will be streamed live on ThunderVision (youtube.com/territorythunder)
*Live Champion Data statistics available on the Official NEAFL App

SUMMARY

After eight weeks of NEAFL football, Sydney University remain atop the standings with a perfect 6-0 record, but that does not mean they haven’t been pushed. They left it late last week to beat the Aspley Hornets by 10 points, and have beaten the Canberra Demons twice by a cumulative of just 28 points. They face off against the NT Thunder this week for the second time this season, having made the trip north in Round 3 to collect a 15-point win. They’ll want to be more convincing than that on Saturday.

The Thunder are coming off a comfortable six-goal win over the Gold Coast Suns, but make their first trip to NSW this week, where teams have not fared well this season – more on that later. At 3-3, with some quality wins mixed in with some poor losses, the Territorians will want to prove they are within striking distance of the best teams each week.

They already have one massive scalp in 2018, taking care of Brisbane by one point in Round 1 at home, but a trip to the Students is a different challenge altogether in what is also Ben Rioli’s 100th NEAFL game.

*Full teams to be announced Friday morning.

RECENT ENCOUNTERS

Round 3, 2018: Sydney University 14.14 (98) d NT Thunder 12.11 (83) at TIO Stadium
Round 19, 2017: Sydney University 25.17 (167) d NT Thunder 7.7 (49) at Henson Park
Round 10, 2017: Sydney University 15.20 (110) d NT Thunder 6.6 (42) at TIO Stadium

TALKING POINTS

1 . While Sydney Uni’s backline has proven the catalyst for the best fast break in the league, the youth of their talls such as Ryan Hebron, Darcy Baron-Hay, and Tribal Sport NEAFL Rising star nominee Nathan Cooper have proved susceptible to dangerous forward lines in the past. This week, they get a second crack at Adam Sambono and Darren Ewing, who kicked three goals each in their last encounter.

2. The Thunder are hardly defensive stalwarts either. In losses this season, they’ve allowed 12, 12 and 16 goals, and have not won a game thus far without kicking more than that latter number. The Students – currently on a five-match winning streak against NT Thunder – haven’t scored less than 13 goals in each of those past wins. A big defensive effort is needed by the visitors this week.

3. NT Thunder midfielder Abraham Ankers has certainly run in to some impressive form of late. The 2017 NEAFL representative polled a game-high nine NEAFL MVP votes last week against Gold Coast, collecting 33 disposals seven clearances, nine inside 50s and two goals. The 23-year-old will come up against arguably the strongest midfield contingent in the NEAFL this week, but you get the feeling it’s a challenge he will relish.

ROOKIE WATCH

Nathan Cooper was nominated for the NEAFL’s Rising Star Award this week, and since his club debut last season, has settled in nicely to the Students’ backline. He has a big challenge this week attempting to quell the effect of the Thunder’s forward line, but they have an equally as difficult job in preventing he and his squadron from breaking hard to conjure up a Sydney University goal.

STATS THAT MATTER

New South Wales is a hard place to win. Only two interstate teams to have won there this season – the defending premier Brisbane and Aspley, who beat Sydney by one point in Round 5.

PREDICTION

Sydney University by 30 points.