Defending premier Southport Sharks have locked in a home Preliminary Final after cruising to a 64-point win over NT Thunder in Darwin on Saturday night.
The Sharks burst out of the blocks and were never threatened thereafter on their way to a 20.20 (140) to 11.10 (76) victory TIO Stadium, which seals second place on the ladder with one round remaining.
Southport had plenty to play for from the opening bounce and made sure they had the upper hand early, racing to a 29-point lead at the first change when they created 13 scoring shots to four.
It was much the same story in the second as Southport added a further six goals to one on the board to blow the margin out to 58 points by half-time.
Thereafter, NT Thunder lifted in intensity and doubled its half time score in the third quarter alone when they booted five majors to Southport’s six.
Thunder’s raft of young talent began to come to the fore, with Joel Jeffrey (four goals) the ick of the bunch in attack.
Ultimately, it came down to the dominance of star Southport trio Ryan Davis, Matt Shaw and Andrew Boston who were unmatched around the ground.
Davis was best-on-ground with 36 disposals, 11 marks, six clearances, eight inside 50s and 3.4. Shaw (31 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) and Boston (27 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) were workhorses from start to finish to guide the Sharks home.
For NT Thunder, Abraham Ankers lifted after a quiet first half to finish with 36 disposals, Ed Barlow booted three majors in a key role through the midfield and up forward, and defender Ben Rioli was terrific in defence.
Southport will host Sydney University in a blockbuster clash next week on the even of finals, while NT Thunder ends its season against Aspley in Brisbane.
NT Thunder v Southport Sharks at TIO Stadium
SOUTHPORT 5.8 11.11 17.14 20.20 (140)
NT THUNDER 1.3 2.7 7.8 11.10 (76)
GOALS – Southport: M Johnson 4 R Davis 3 T Fields 2 J Hall 2
J Lyons M Manteit B Murdoch J O’Shea M Shaw E Baru A Boston T Bowie L Dale. NT
Thunder: J Jeffrey 4 E Barlow 3 N Lockyer 2 K Delahunty N Paredes.
BEST – Southport: R Davis M Shaw S Tae J O’Shea A Boston L Dale. NT Thunder: A Ankers J Farrer J Jeffrey E Barlow K Parnell B Rioli.
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