By Jess Webster (NEAFL Media)
Sydney University is back within the mix for a top two finish after grinding out an important 14-point victory over Southport at Fankhauser Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
In a contested, low-scoring affair, it was the Students who took control of the contest in the second half to win 11.13 (79) to 9.11 (65).
It was a stark contrast to the last time these two sides met in Round 10 when the Sharks thrashed Sydney Uni by 110 points and kept them to their lowest ever NEAFL score.
After flying to Brisbane on game day due to last-minute flight change, Students coach Tom Morrison was not only pleased with their response from that loss, but also how the side fought all the way to secure the win.
“I am really proud of the boys. We made a pact with one another that we weren’t going to let any of the distractions, or not perfect preparation over the last 16 hours, get in the way of a strong performance,” he told neafl.com.au.
“We weren’t going to leave here without the four points.”
It was the home side who started the match in scintillating form with two goals to Josh Hall inside the first three minutes.
With the bulk of the play in the opening term in Southport’s control, the Students did well to maintain scoreboard pressure as Southport skipped out to a 16-point lead.
The two sides went goal-for-goal in the second and despite the Students generating momentum at stages, the Sharks had all the answers.
Sydney Uni made their move last with back-to-back goals in time-on reducing the margin to one point at the main break.
It was an arm wrestle in the third with six consecutive behinds from both teams in the first 20 minutes.
Tom Wilkinson broke the drought for the Sharks in the only major of the term, but at three-quarter time it was anyone’s game.
The Students were first to strike through Austin Lucy for a three-point advantage, as the visitors produced four in a row to effectively put the result beyond doubt.
Morrison said it was a confidence-boosting victory that will help bring the belief back to the playing group approaching finals.
“A win always helps with the confidence. We know if we keep cracking in… and if we did the work during the week at training that the results would come on Saturday,” he said.
“We’re starting to see some of that now, so we’ll take a lot of belief and confidence out of this game. We haven’t got an easy run (towards finals) and it’s going to be close. It’s an exciting year to be a part of.”
Zac O’Brien and Craig Bird were workhorses through the midfield to combine for 60 disposals, 18 clearances and 11 inside 50s for the Students.
Jordan Taylor and Seb Tape were strong through defence for the Sharks, with Josh Clayton their leading disposal winner with 27 plus 12 marks.
Sydney University face the GIANTS next week, while Southport has the bye.
Southport Sharks v Sydney University at Fankhauser Reserve
SYDNEY UNI 3.1 7.5 7.9 11.13 (79)
SOUTHPORT 5.5 7.6 8.9 9.11 (65)
GOALS – Sydney Uni: A Lucy 2 D Bonney 2 T Young N Reinhard J Marsh Z O’Brien J Dimery N Foster J Derickx. Southport: J Hall 3 R Clements 2 T Wilkinson J Baxter W Hancock M Manteit
BEST – Sydney Uni: C Bird R Hebron J Hiscox J Derickx Z O’Brien A Day. Southport: J Hall L Dale J Baxter R Clements J Taylor S Tape.