By Myles Stedman (NEAFL Media)
Sydney Uni rolls on as tantalising third term sets up victory over NT Thunder
Sydney University have improved to seven wins from seven games and remain atop the NEAFL ladder after a comprehensive 58-point victory over NT Thunder at Blacktown.
The third quarter was again the key for league leaders, as they burst the game open kicking eight goals to one on their way to a 18.11 (119) to 9.7 (61) win.
The Students now move two wins ahead of their nearest rivals Brisbane while NT again fail to pick up important points on the road.
Early predictors tipped Sydney Uni to struggle with their opposition’s potent forwardline, but from the outset it was quite the opposite, the home team kicking the first three goals of the game.
At the first quarter break, the Students led 3.2 to 0.1, with Craig Bird, Jack Hiscox and Jack Dimery doing all the damage for the blue-and-gold with five rebound 50s, three inside 50s and 13 touches respectively.
However the Thunder were not about to be beaten at their own game, hitting back with four goals in the first eight minutes post the break to take the lead.
By half-time, the game had begun to take on its foretold shape, with lockdown Sydney University defenders Nathan Cooper and Darcy Baron-Hay struggling with the imposing size of their matchups Darren Ewing and Hugo Drogemuller.
Jacob Derickx was causing his own problems in the home team’s forwardline with two goals, and alongside Dimery’s 18 disposals, was helping keep his team at arm’s length, the score at the break favouring the Students by 13 points.
Four quick goals from the Students shortly after the resumption of play saw the Bolts all of a sudden battling to stay in the game.
Dominant work in the midfield and two goals for the quarter from Derickx and young Student Tristan Davies saw the home team jump out to a nine-goal advantage by three-quarter time.
By the final siren Sydney University had blown the margin out to 58 points, with Adam Gulden leading the disposal count with 32 Derickx finishing with five goals.
Abraham Ankers proved most influential for NT Thunder, touching the ball 25 times, while Ewing kicked three goals, but could not influence the outcome to his usual degree.
After the game, Students coach Tom Morrison highlighted his pride in how his players responded after half-time rather than the adjustments he’d made.
“It’s definitely not what I say to them, I think the boys are really good at holding themselves and each other accountable,” he told neafl.com.au.
“We probably weren’t overly happy with the way we went about it in the second quarter, but they (players) came out and showed that we’re a resilient group and responded how we wanted to.”
Morrison also praised his midfield’s carry, and ability to run opponents off their feet.
“Pushing Will Sierakowski inside has had a real influence, he’s so composed with the ball in hand, and he looks to use those wingers and halfbacks really well,” he said.
“When you get Hiscox and Gulden on the end of some of those handball receives, that can be pretty damaging, and also taking territory with their legs, that can be dangerous as well.
“We also used our hands out of the stoppage really well, which allowed that to occur.”
Thunder coach Andrew Hodges praised the opposition for their use of the ball, and admitted his team was not as clinical with the time they got in possession.
“Our decision-making and skill execution going forward wasn’t that great today,” he said.
“The statistics throughout the game were fairly even in terms of inside 50s and clearances, we just didn’t use the ball as well going forward.
“Their pressure and drive off half-back in getting uncontested possession was pretty impressive, they ran hard in waves and used the ball really well, and we didn’t do a good enough job in trying to stop that flow and get the momentum back our way.”
Hodges also lamented his team’s inability to stay focused for the entire game.
“Our concentration and staying engaged in the game was poor at the start of that third quarter, which is really disappointing, as it’s something we’ve worked hard on to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he said.
“We didn’t take our opportunity when we had to.”
Sydney University v NT Thunder at BISP
SYDNEY UNI 3.2 7.4 15.6 18.11 (119)
NT THUNDER 0.1 5.3 6.5 9.7 (61)
GOALS – Sydney Uni: J Derickx 5 T Davies 3 A Gulden 2 S Fong 2 A Lucy 2 T Young 2 N Reinhard W Sierakowski. NT Thunder: D Ewing 3 P Heenan A Ankers H Drogemuller S Rioli C Williams S Talbot.
BEST – Sydney Uni: J Derickx R Hebron J Hiscox W Sierakowski X Richards C Bird. NT Thunder: D Ewing P Boles C Ilett J Anderson S Smith A Ankers.