The Canberra Demons were challenged by an undermanned NT Thunder on Saturday night, but did enough to hold them at bay to record an important 28-point victory at TIO Stadium.
Canberra opened the match with an impressive performance across the field, booting 10 goals to three in a blistering opening term which ultimately set up the18.12 (120) to 13.14 (92) victory.
Already without stars Phillip Wills, Daniel Weetra and Hugo Drogemuller to work commitments, Thunder lost co-captain Shannon Rioli prior to the match and experienced defender Braedon McLean during the warm up.
Silly mistakes from the NT Thunder proved costly and is what took them out of the contest early on, giving away three 50-metre penalties in the first quarter.
Returning from the sheds at quarter-time, we saw a different side returning to the field with hopes to turn their fortune around.
The clean cut skills from experienced back-men Ben Rioli and the speed and strength from Nate Paredes is what kept Thunder’s hopes alive in the second half of the match, with the two combining for 32 disposals and four goals.
Despite Thunder still trailing at half-time, the home side won the second quarter, which showed positive signs for their young forward pack.
They continued to claw their way back in to the contest in the second half, getting to within 18 points at the 20-minute mark of the third before Canberra kicked away to hold on to a 24-point lead at the final break.
With one last effort, NT kicked the first two goals of the last to get within 14 points, a might effort considering they were down by 45 points at quarter-time.
But the Demons stood firm, producing the next four goals to put the result beyond doubt.
Despite the fighting effort from the NT Thunder, Canberra was too classy for the home side, walking away with their third consecutive win at TIO Stadium.
Alex Smout led the charge for Canberra through the midfield with 31 disposals, four clearances and a goal, with Rhys Pollock impressing with three majors and Alex Paech a focal point in attack with four goals.
Former SANFL player Cohen Thiele starred in his debut for Thunder, alongside Dylan Barry (three goals) and Ben Rioli (19 disposals, five rebound 50s, one goal).
The Thunder will remain at home next weekend where they will meet cross state rivals the Redland Bombers for the chance to redeem themselves, whilst the Demons will be looking for back-to-back victories when they come face to face with Sydney University at home next weekend.
NT Thunder v Canberra Demons at TIO Stadium
CANBERRA 10.3 12.5 14.9 18.12 (120)
NT THUNDER 3.0 6.6 10.9 13.14 (92)
GOALS – Canberra: A Paech 4 R Pollock 3 K Evans 2 M Hardie 2 J Powell 2 H Carr A Baker S Martyn A Smout L Meline. NT Thunder: N Paredes 3 D Barry 3 D Staunton 2 A Tipungwuti C Gallio T Melville A Ankers B Rioli.
BEST – Canberra: R Pollock M Maguire K Evans A Paech A Baker M Vardanega. NT Thunder: C Thiele D Barry D Johnston N Lockyer Jnr B Rioli N Paredes.
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