By: ANTHONY WINGARD
Redland out-muscle Southport in final trial match
Redland’s aspirations of returning to finals football this season took a massive hit in their 60-point NEAFL practice match win over Southport on Saturday afternoon after prize acquisition Jackson Paine suffered a serious shoulder injury.
The key forward left the field in the hands of trainers after colliding with a Southport defender in a marking contest during the first quarter of the Bombers’ 18.9 (117) to 8.9 (57) win.
Prior to the incident, Paine had kicked the Bombers’ first two goals of the game and looked lively up forward alongside Sam Michael, who also found the scoresheet in the first term.
He did not return after the injury, only making cameos during the Redland huddles at each break whilst sporting a sling and in clear discomfort.
In his absence, Redland’s forward line produced a masterclass in front of goal, kicking eight straight goals before registering their first behind. Michael was especially prolific in the contest, finishing with three goals, whilst Luke Rogerson, Kyle Walsh and Aaron Christensen were also welcomed contributors.
Redland coach Leigh Harding was quick to talk down Paine’s injury post-match.
“I think he’s going to be okay,” he said.
“You lose a good leader out there. Other blokes stepped up out there which was a really good attribute for us today.”
Southport were competitive through the midfield, although struggled to translate their share of play on the scoreboard.
The Sharks trailed by 10 points at quarter time before their misfortunes continued in the second term.
While they controlled play in the opening ten minutes of the quarter, Southport could only muster another four points, taking a 25-point deficit into half-time.
Jordan Keras was amongst the action from the outset, finding plenty of the ball and manufacturing another solid performance.
The Southport midfielder was aided by reigning Sharks’ best-and-fairest winner Andrew Boston, who showed his knack for finding space with his trademark speed around stoppages.
The Bombers’ put the game beyond doubt halfway through the third quarter after a deliberate rush behind led to a Soul McCormick goal, putting the away side 39 points ahead and out of touch.
With a full preseason under his belt, Aaron Christensen looks primed to improve his stock in 2017, showing plenty to like in the win.
A pre-season knee injury hindered his first season in the NEAFL last year, but the small forward’s performance on Saturday suggests he’ll better that this time around.
Harding was pleased with his side’s efforts, but acknowledged there is still improvement to be made.
“It was probably one of the best team performances I’ve seen,” he said.
“We were able to put enormous pressure on Southport and cash in on the scoreboard.
“We’ll just keep fine-tuning our style.”
Both Southport and Redland will have a week’s rest before their Round 1 clashes against Sydney University and Canberra respectively.
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