By Jess Webster (NEAFL Media)
NEAFL ROUND 11
Sydney University (1st) v Aspley Hornets (6th) at BISP, 12pm
*Live Champion Data statistics available on the Official NEAFL App
Any time these two sides clash you don’t you know you’ll get your money’s worth, but this week certainly has added intrigue when Sydney University hosts Aspley at Blacktown.
It’s hard to fathom how a team on top of the ladder can produce their worst every score, but that’s exactly what the Students produced last week when they capitulated against Southport. Added to the 110-point loss was a heavy defeat to Sydney Swans the week prior, which suddenly has the ladder leaders under pressure.
Aspley, meanwhile, have been ticking along nicely after a slow start to the year. Their midfield firing, their defence is solid, and the forward line is beginning to pile on the scoreboard pressure. However, the Students are a side that the Hornets can’t seem to beat.
A win for the Students will steady the ship, but victory for Aspley will see them burst in to the top four. We’re set for a show-stopper!
Round 6, 2018: Sydney Uni 11.19 (85) d Aspley 11.9 (75) at Graham Rd
Elimination Final, 2017: Sydney Uni 19.12 (126) d Aspley 11.10 (76) at BISP
Round 18, 2017: Sydney Uni 18.14 (122) d Aspley 9.5 (59) at Henson Park
1. Sydney University’s fall from grace has been spectacular. They were undefeated up until Round 9 until the Sydney Swans served up a masterclass performance, before the Sharks destroyed the ladder leaders last week to have them lose their past two matches by a combined 161 points. Added to the pain of defeat is Damien Bonney and Adam Gulden were suspended, plus Nathan Cooper (ankle) and Xavier Richards (hamstring) injured. Should the alarm bells be ringing?
2. While these two sides have played finals for the past two seasons, and been evenly matched whenever they face each other, it’s the Students who seem to have the wood over the Hornets. In fact, Aspley hasn’t beaten Sydney University since Round 5, 2016. In the following five matches over two years, the Students have won every time by an average of 32.8 points.
3. Sydney University may have a lengthy ‘outs’ list, but one huge inclusion is Zac O’Brien. The former Brisbane Lion comes in for his first NEAFL game this year after injury has kept him on the sidelines, and he’d be hoping to pick up where he left off. O’Brien had a stunning back-end of the season last year, storming home in the NEAFL MVP count to finish joint runner-up after playing just 13 games. With his side in trouble, and an extended stint on the sidelines, expect O’Brien to make his presence felt in a crunch game for the Students.
Keep an eye on Connor Stackelberg this week as he continues to cement his place in the Aspley lineup. The 20-year-old former Brisbane Lions Academy member made his club debut when the Hornets played Sydney University in Round 7, after not featuring at NEAFL level since 2016 for the Lions. The young forward ended up amongst the Hornets best players with 17 disposals and two goals. The Students boast one of the best defensive units in the competition. Not only is it key for Stackelberg to make an impact for his team, but a strong performance could be a breakout match for this up-and-coming player.
STATS THAT MATTER
Andrew Swallow (142) and Matthew Payne (130) are ranked first and second in the competition for total contested possessions by an individual player. But they don’t have much support around the ground. As a team, Sydney University are ranked first in the competition for contested possessions (1326), while Aspley are down in seventh (1248).
Aspley by 1 point.