The Aspley Hornets have gone one step further in securing a finals fixture with a tough win over the Southport Sharks away from home.
The 8.8 (56) to 4.6 (30) result was the Hornets’ first win at Fankhauser Reserve since Round 5 of 2017, and brought Southport to only their second home loss in 10 matches.
The sides last met in Round 9 of this season, where the Sharks scored an 11-point win at Fankhauser Reserve. The Hornets are yet to lose a match since then.
With a huge downpour drenching the oval in the hour leading into the opening bounce, and throughout the first half, it was the Hornets who were able to control the ball best in trying conditions.
Speedy forward Lonnie Hampton continued his strong vein of form in a standout game, with two goals, 12 disposals and 12 tackles, including nine from the first half.
Aspley ruckman Jake Spencer similarly impacted the contest, with an unbelievable 82 hit-outs to go with his 13 disposals and five marks for the game.
The effects of the wet weather took their heaviest toll in the first quarter, with Ryan Davis an early victim collapsing to the floor in attempt to make a clearance.
Jono Freeman managed to take a rare mark above his head and convert the goal to give the Hornets a two-goal lead at quarter time.
The Sharks responded well in the second term, with Tom Fields, Dylan Fyfe and Davis mounting majors to win the second quarter 3.1 to 2.1.
Aspley entered the second half with a clear intent to close out the game on their terms, holding the Sharks to one goal, and kicking four goals themselves.
Southport put together patches of repeat inside 50 entries, but the watertight Aspley defence lead by Liam Dawson (22 disposals, seven marks, eight rebound 50s), refused to give the home side an inch.
Senior coach Daniel Webster was hugely impressed with his side’s ability to work hard through the contest, noting the challenge presented to his group, even regardless of the conditions.
“They’re a quality side and they’re so hard to beat down here,” Webster told neafl.com.au.
“With the conditions on top of it, it was hard work. It was a good, tough game of footy.
"Obviously, in these conditions contested footy is the key and trying to be clean in the contest as much as you can and taking the chances when you get them.”
Both sides grew tired quickly as the match came to a close, as the Hornets maintained possession well with the rain holding off.
Likely suspects Matt Payne (27 disposals, five tackles, eight clearances) and co-captain James Ives (25 disposals, eight tackles, three goals) were hugely influential, while Davis and Tyler Roos were among the Sharks’ best.
The slippery conditions saw both sides clock mammoth tackle counts of 116 and 136, meaning every player on the ground averaged over five tackles.
The Hornets will enjoy a rest over the bye this weekend ahead of their clash with the GIANTS in Sydney the next round, while Southport will travel to Sydney to take on the Swans in the 2018 Grand Final rematch.
Southport Sharks v Aspley Hornets at Fankhauser Reserve
ASPLEY 2.2 4.3 6.4 8.8 (56)
SOUTHPORT 0.2 3.3 3.5 4.6 (30)
GOALS – Aspley: J Ives 3 L Hampton 2 J Allen J Coghlan J Freeman.
Southport: R Davis T Fields D Fyfe M Johnson.
BEST – Aspley: J Ives D Lawrence G Grose M Payne J Spencer J Hayden. Southport: R Davis T Fields.
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