Mitch Johnson booted seven goals as Southport completed a clean sweep, beating Canberra for a third time this year with a nine-point victory at Phillip Oval on Saturday.
The game was closely matched throughout the day with Southport having more opportunities up forward with the ball, and a dominant second quarter leading to a 17.13 (115) to 17.4 (106) victory.
The game started in the worst way possible for the Demons as the Sharks kicked a goal within the opening minute of the game, showing they were ready for a battle.
Southport had a clear advantage at stoppages, bullying Canberra with contested possessions and forcing a lot of Canberra errors early.
Just as Southport looked to have taken the momentum of the match with their quick ball movement, Canberra clawed back of the ascendancy with their slow, methodical short kicks around the ground.
The Sharks had a slight edge at the quarter-time break with a five-point lead in an opening term both sides would have been happy with.
Despite being behind on the scoreboard, Canberra were matching it early with midfielders Mitch Maguire and Angus Baker leading the way along with Aaron Bruce and Tom Highmore having an impact off the half-backline.
The second quarter slowly turned into a nightmare showing for the home team as Southport ran away with a dominant seven goal quarter, lead largely by small forward Mitch Johnson with five of his seven goals coming in the first half.
The second quarter showed some great signs for Southport coach, Stephen Daniel.
“The second quarter was terrific, but we were happy with our first quarter as well with all of our defending for us today.” Daniel told neafl.com.au.
“The inside contests we won that really convincingly so we are really happy with that aspect aswell.”
Coming out of the main break the Demons were going to have to work hard if they were going to erase the 25-point half-time deficit.
Just like the switch of a lightbulb the Demons were on fire responding with three goals in three minutes to Pollock, Carr and Hardie.
Just as Canberra looked to have get closer to the Sharks, however, the Queensland side would find a way to respond and did so with two goals to finish the quarter.
The Demons were going to need a mammoth effort to the table in the final term if they were going to cause an unlikely upset victory.
That’s exactly what the Demons did, they ran home with a wet sail to kick seven goals and getting with three points of the reigning premiers.
A couple of late goals to Joh Hall and Mitch Johnson on the siren was enough to seal it for the Sharks and escape with a narrow victory.
A victory that should have been sealed much earlier on in the game, according to Daniel.
“It shouldn’t have been a close game, we were really good, we had a few areas that we felt we needed to get better in and we certainly did,” he said.
“We are probably disappointed with a 10-minute patch in that last quarter where we lost our concentration and we made some poor decisions with the ball and we just let Canberra waltz into some open goals.”
The Sharks will look to play a much more consistent performance when facing against the ladder leading Brisbane Lions next week, with patches of the game really impressing Daniel.
“We probably played half a game of the football that we were playing last year. We were quick, we were exciting and then we just couldn’t sustain it unfortunately, but that will be something that we have got to work on now,” he said.
The Demons will look to recover and reset for a massive season-defining game against Sydney University next weekend. The winner of that game likely to win a place in finals.
Canberra Demons v Southport Sharks at Phillip Oval
SOUTHPORT 4.2 11.4 14.9 17.13 (115)
CANBERRA 3.3 7.3 10.3 17.4 (106)
GOALS – Southport: M Johnson 7 J Hall 3 J Mentha 2 J Williams
2 T Bowie T Fields D Fyfe. Canberra: H Carr 3 R Pollock 3 A Swan 3 R Corbett
2 M Hardie 2 M Maguire A Paech T Faul A Baker.
BEST – Southport: M Johnson T Miller J Hall J Williams K Boakye D Fyfe. Canberra: A Baker M Hardie T Highmore A Swan A Bruce R Pollock.
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