by Murray Silby
NT Thunder and Redland resume their ANZAC Day rivalry in NEAFL’s Round 4 this weekend with both teams desperate for a win.
Thunder has a dominant lead over the Bombers when it comes to the ANZAC Day round, winning every game except one since the traditional clash began in 2011.
Thunder players have also enjoyed individual success in the games with seven players – Cameron Ilett (2011), Jake Dignan (2012), Nathan Brown (2013), Ross Tungatalum (2014), Cameron Ilett (2015), Ben Rioli (2016) and Adam Sambono (2017) – winning the ANZAC medal for best-on-ground.
The one clash that Thunder lost was last year and the Bombers are likely to start slight favorites in this weekend’s game as well. Redland has one win from its three games in 2019 and sits fifth on the NEAFL ladder while Thunder is last without a win from its two games so far. Although Thunder’s last start before its Easter bye was an 84-point loss to Sydney University, there were some positive signs for the club. New recruit Jacob Templeton was among the positives.
Templeton was recruited from Central Districts in the SANFL as a big-bodied midfielder and was among Thunder’s best against the Students. “It’s really been quite a different experience actually,” he said. “I’ve settled in a lot quicker than I thought. There’s a lot of friendly guys at the club and obviously having Jack (Hannath), one of my best mates go up there and having Darren Reeves go up there as a coach helped settle things a little bit.”
Templeton has recently opened a gym in Adelaide and so is flying in for games, but he said he’s been welcomed by the group and been impressed by the club’s professionalism.
“I’ve just loved the whole professionalism of the club so far and I was quite surprised how quickly I was able to fit in with a completely new bunch of guys and I guess that speaks credit to the type of players and individuals we have and all the people in the organisation,” he said.
The men’s and women’s Thunder squads are taking part in the ANZAC Day dawn service before a training run afterwards.
Templeton said the week’s events are a reminder of the sacrifices others have made through history. “I think it’s always a bit of a different round for everybody,” he said. “You do think that you’re playing for a little bit more than football.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game, but (in war) of people sacrificed a lot and you reflect on that.”
Templeton and his fellow Thunder midfield are likely to have their work cut out against Redland on Saturday with the Bombers’ on-ballers in excellent form.
In their seven-point loss to Sydney last weekend, Redland ruckman Craig Malone managed an amazing 71 hit-outs and will be a huge challenge for Hannath in ever sense of the word.
While midfielder Jack Rolls gathered 25 disposals, including 13 clearances and eight inside 50s, for Redland against the Swans. The week before, in the Bomber’s victory over Canberra, Rolls combined with Tom Salter for a combined 53 disposals.
Thunder co-captain Shannon Rioli has missed both games so far this season and Phillip Wills missed the Round 2 match. Templeton and Rioli’s fellow skipper, Abraham Ankers, will be happy Wills is available to reinforce their midfield against the Bombers.
Thunder’s backline, including Braedon McLean and Ben Rioli were among its best against Sydney University, but that pair will be hoping for less work this weekend.
NEAFL Round 4: Redland vs NT Thunder – 1.30pm Saturday 27 April, Scottsdale Park, Victoria Point, QLD