by Murray Silby
An eight goals to two final term has sealed a runaway 67-point victory for NT Thunder over Redland in their Round 15 NEAFL game on Saturday evening, 18.14 (122) to 8.7 (57).
Playing on their home ground at TIO Stadium in Darwin mid-afternoon, instead of in the night, due to repairs being carried out on the light towers, may have given the home side an advantage thanks to the hot conditions, and if it did, they took full advantage as the game progressed.
After an entertaining first quarter, Thunder took an 11-point lead into the first change, but it could have been closer with its 4.3 scoreline boasting only one more scoring shot than Redland’s 2.4.
Davin Ferreira benefited from an intercept mark and pass from an unselfish Darren Ewing to give Thunder the first major of the match, but Damian Steven and then Jackson Paine recorded the next two.
Nick Yarran was proving a useful link between defence and attack while also bringing intense defensive pressure to the match and was rewarded for effort with another intercept mark and goal. Sam Talbot and Michael Coombes rounded out the scoring for Thunder.
Redland’s inaccurate kicking for goal helped their hosts to their lead with the Bombers’ livewire forward Aaron Christensen kicking three behinds, each of which was a gettable chance.
The contest was closer than the scoreboard suggested though with Redland finding space through the likes of captain Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds and Clay Cameron and was able to maintain possession for much of the quarter.
The honours were split between the Bombers’ engine room and Thunder’s captain Shannon Rioli, celebrating his 100th Thunder game, and fellow on-ballers Abraham Ankers and Matt Rosier, who were going about their usual business of extracting the ball from stoppages all over the ground.
At the start of the second quarter it seemed, the wayward kicking bug had struck Thunder with it adding three minor scores before Ewing broke the run with his first goal after a pin-point pass from Coombes.
A free kick gave Redland’s Brad Rees an easy goal before Thunder added the next four.
They included a purple patch by champion all-rounder Cameron Ilett. He kicked his first goal of the quarter and the match at the 17-minute mark of the term, but by the 29th minute he had three on the score sheet.
Plenty of his teammates were contributing though. When Hugo Drogemuller kicked his first goal at the 22nd-minute mark, before Ilett’s flurry, Thunder had seven individual goal scorers, each with one apiece. They’d finish the match with 11 goal scorers, reflecting an even performance across the team.
The result of Thunder’s dominance in the second quarter was it kicking five goals for the term while also restricting Redland to just one to take a 39-point lead into half-time.
Play slowed in the third term and not just because Redland refined its defensive efforts. For the second week in succession, a Thunder game was interrupted by an unusual intervention.
Last week against the Giants in Sydney, the siren blew early in the final term and halted play while it was stopped. This week Thunder’s third quarter was interrupted by the sprinkler system starting up causing a pause for several minutes as the taps were turned off.
The Bombers’ tighter defence did slow Thunder’s march though as the visitors kicked three goals to one to narrow the gap at three-quarter time to 27 points.
Paine, Cameron and Jarrod Huddy gave their side a chance while Tony Olango showed why Hawthorn has him in its Next Generation Academy by taking a ruck contest, gathering the ball and then snapping a goal for Thunder.
Just six seconds into the final term Redland’s big forward Paine gave his side a chance with his third goal of the match, making the margin an achievable 21 points.
From that point on, however, it was a question of “how far” for the home side. Thunder banged on the next eight majors to secure its eighth win of the season and maintain its place in fourth spot on the NEAFL ladder.
Paine bookended that run of Thunder goals with his fourth just before the final siren.
Thunder coach Andrew Hodges said after the match he was pleased with how his charges applied themselves as the game progressed.
“We thought our first two-quarters were pretty good,” he said. “The third quarter we dropped off a little bit, our efficiency in front of goal dropped right down and obviously the last quarter was pleasing, seeing them go on with it and create plenty of opportunities to kick a winning score so that was very pleasing.
“Every game’s important, but these two games at home are very important for us and to get the win today and set ourselves up for next week is excellent.
“We sit in fourth and I think where our season’s at that’s probably where we should be sitting. Hopefully, we’re getting some consistency. We’ve had to make some changes the last few weeks, but we’re starting to get a full list that’s fairly fit and injury free that’s really pleasing.”
Hodges said it was also a good sign for the club to have 11 goal scorers in the match with some potent goal kickers waiting in the wings to make returns to the side.
“We’ve still got (Francis) Kinthari and (Adam) Sambono to come back into the side so it was a really pleasing performance,” he said.
Thunder hosts Aspley at TIO Stadium in Round 16 in the AFL curtain-raiser. Fans and members are reminded they need to have an AFL entry ticket for next Saturday afternoon.
NT Thunder 4.3, 9.7, 10.10, 18.14 (122)
Redland 2.4, 3.4, 6.7, 8.7 (55)
NT Thunder: Cameron Ilett 3, Tony Olango 2, Shannon Rioli 2, Nicholas Yarran 2, Darren Ewing 2, Hugo Drogemuller 2, Jack Shanahan, Davin Ferreira, Sam Talbot, Braedon McLean, Michael Coombes.
Redland: Jackson Paine 4, Damian Steven, Brad Rees, Clay Cameron, Jarrod Huddy.
NT Thunder: Cameron Ilett, Nicholas Yarran, Matt Rosier, Sam Smith, Darren Ewing, Shannon Rioli.
Redland: Adrian Williams, Adam Boon, Jackson Paine, Clay Cameron, Peter Yagmoor, Soul Cormick.
Watch what Nick Yarran had to say on ThunderVision following the win.