Southport earned every bit of its 15-point triumph over NT Thunder in wet conditions at Fankhauser Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
A slog from start to finish, the Sharks kept their noses in front all day to win 7.15 (57) to 6.6 (42) despite scoring just two behinds in the final term.
In his 100th NEAFL match, Andrew Boston was a workhorse in the middle of the ground to cap off his milestone with an outstanding game of 27 disposals, seven clearances, 10 inside 50s anda goal.
The Sharks were on the board first when Trent Stubbs snapped a goal from close range to open the scoring, but NT Thunder found the answer when Kieran Delahunty soccered a goal. A Josh Williams major on the run handed Southport the lead at quarter-time.
Boston bobbed up in space to slot one through to extend Southport’s lead to 14 at the start of the second, but NT Thunder kept hitting back, going goal-for-goal with Southport.
A high-flying mark from Jess Budarick on the win was a highlight of the game as Thunder only trailed by 17 at the main break.
It was then where the game really tightened up and goals became worth their weight in gold. A fantastic major from Nigel Lockyer, after he marked 50m out and wheeled around to bang one home, got Thunder back to within 14 early in the third.
A key goal from Matt Doran at the 22-minute mark opened up a match-high 22-point lead to the home side as they went into three-quarter time with momentum on their side.
What followed was an arm wrestle of epic proportions; a rushed behind after six minutes and a Dylan Barry miss at the 14-minute mark were the only scores in the first half of the last term.
Mitch Johnson had a chance to put the result beyond doubt, but missed running in to an open goal at the 17-minute mark to keep the door open for NT Thunder.
But the only goal that was scored in the final term came at the 28-minute mark when Ben Rioli converted from a 50m penalty, and by then it was too little too late.
Michael Manteit (29 disposals) and Tyler Roos (27) wre the other key ball winners for Southport, with Josh Williams and Ryan Davis also among their better players.
Defender Daniel Weetra was sensational for NT Thunder, throwing himself into contest after contest and finishing with 26 disposals and eight rebound 50s.
Abraham Ankers (32 disposals) was strong in the midfield and Rising Star nominee Kieren Parnell (27 disposals, eight rebound 50s) had another solid performance in defence.
Southport will host Aspley in a mouth-watering clash next week, whilst NT Thunder return home to face Sydney at TIO Stadium on Saturday night.
Southport Sharks v NT Thunder at Fankhauser Reserve
SOUTHPORT 2.4 5.8 7.13 7.15 (57)
NT THUNDER 1.2 3.3 5.5 6.6 (42)
GOALS – Southport: J Mentha 2 A Boston J Williams T Stubbs M
Doran M Johnson. NT Thunder: D Barry 2 B Rioli K Delahunty N Lockyer B O’Connell.
BEST – Southport: A Boston J Williams R Davis J Shea D Fyfe J Mentha. NT Thunder: D Weetra A Ankers K Parnell N Paredes J Stevens B Carroll.
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