Aspley reached a club milestone on Saturday when it grabbed third position on the ladder to secure the club’s highest ever finish to a NEAFL season.
The Hornets’ 33-point victory over NT Thunder at Voxson Oval saw the club jump into third spot and set up a home Elimination Final against the GIANTS next week, in what will be the club's seventh consecutive NEAFL Finals Series campaign.
Needing a win to avoid travelling to Sydney for a cut-throat knockout final, the Hornets were fast out of the gates with the first five goals of the game to set the tone for the 17.16 (118) to 12.13 (95) win.
NT Thunder hit back with the next three to cut the margin to 13 points at the first break, and challenged the Hornets right to the end before the hosts broke away late.
During the last quarter, and with a depleted bench, Thunder rallied to get within 13 points at the 14-minute mark.
But Aspley would produce a decisive blow through Billy Murphy moments later which opened the floodgates, as the Hornets booted five in a row to put the result beyond doubt.
Emerging midfielder Tom Templeton led the way for Aspley with 26 disposals and eight clearances, teaming nicely with veteran Matt Payne (22 disposals, eight clearances).
The Stackelberg brothers, Connor and Cody, combined for 31 disposals, eight inside 50s and five goals and Jake Spencer (42 hit-outs and a goal) was strong in the ruck.
For NT Thunder, Nathaniel Paredes was terrific with 31 disposals, nine clearances and nine inside 50s, and former Aspley utility Ed Barlow performed well against his old side with 23 disposals, six marks and a goal.
The two stats of the season – Abraham Ankers (21 disposals, two goals) and Ben Rioli (23 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) ensure they finished 2019 with their heads held high.
The loss means NT Thunder ‘wins’ its first wooden spoon in the competition.
Aspley begins its finals campaign at 12pm next Saturday against the GIANTS at Voxson Oval.
Aspley Hornets v NT Thunder at Voxson Oval
ASPLEY 5.5 9.8 12.12 17.16 (118)
NT THUNDER 3.4 5.8 8.9 12.13 (85)
GOALS – Aspley: W Murphy 3 J Nelis 3 Con Stackelberg
3 Cod Stackelberg 2 J Freeman 2 J Giles J Hayden J Spencer T Baulch. NT
Thunder: W Farrer 4 M Rosas 2 A Ankers 2 K Delahunty 2 E Barlow J Budarick.
BEST – Aspley: T Templeton W Murphy Con Stackelberg R Toye Cod Stackelberg J Arnold. NT Thunder: N Paredes K Parnell J Farrer A Ankers M Rosas B Rioli.
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