Sydney University withstood a challenge from a spirited Redland side, led by a fired up Tom Young, to overcome the Bombers by 39 points on Saturday afternoon at a cloudy Tidbold Park.
Redland put in a respectable performance against the second-placed students, starting strong and constantly asking questions of the Sydney side, but in the end the men in gold and blue had all the answers, running out 17.20 (122) to 13.5 (83) winners.
It was never going to be an easy task for the Bombers without Matt Thomson and Sam Michael, but they took it right up to the Students, ultimately lacking the polish to get the job done.
The Bombers played inspired football from the first bounce, dominating possession early and registering the first two goals of the game.
But the students worked their way into the contest, and goals to Michael Manteit and Jack Hiscox saw them head into quarter-time just four points behind.
The second quarter belonged to the students as they registered the first five majors and looked like they might put paid to the Bombers by half-time, but a stunning shimmy and snap by Dylan Adkins and a goal to Jackson Paine kept Redland in it at the main break.
What hope the Bombers had of a comeback after a fairly even third quarter were quickly quashed, as the students kicked three quick ones after the break – including a Manteit belter from the boundary – to put the result beyond doubt.
Young was tireless in the middle, extracting the Sherrin time and time again to the jeers of the Redland crowd, finishing with 25 disposals and a game-high nine clearances.
Lewis Stevenson continued the terrific form that saw him sit fourth on the NEAFL MVP leaderboard at the start of the match, racking up 24 disposals and eight marks.
Jack Hiscox and Jackson Potter provided blistering pace up forward, registering two goals each, while Rising Star nominee Callum McFadden was prolific with 23 disposals.
Redland fullback Adrian Williams (23 disposals, nine marks) was outstanding other than a deliberate rushed behind blunder in the second quarter, doing a commendable job containing Xavier Richards.
Meanwhile Jackson Paine managed two goals despite being well held by Darcy Baron-Hay (16 disposals, 4 marks), while Clay Cameron posted three.
Damien Bonney (16 disposals, 3 goals) was mercurial as ever for the Students, one of six multiple goalkickers out of nine total for his side.
Scott Miller (23 disposals, nine marks, five tackles) turned in one of his best performances of the season, combining with Brad Howard (19 disposals, one goal) off half back to drive the Bombers forward.
Boyd Bailey (24 disposals), Soul Cormick (23) and Jack Rolls (21) were serviceable through the middle for Redland.
The win sees the students maintain their one win gap over the Lions and remain on level pegging with the all-conquering Swans, who they face next week in a blockbuster top-of-the-table clash at the SCG on Friday.
The Bombers remain in eighth place, two games behind the Canberra Demons, and face mid-table Aspley next Saturday at Tidbold Park.
Redland Bombers v Sydney University at Tidbold Park
SYDNEY UNI 2.3 7.10 12.15 17.20 (122)
REDLAND 3.1 5.3 10.4 13.5 (83)
GOALS – Sydney University: D Bonney 3, M Manteit 3, J Derickx 2, T Barrett 2, J Potter 2, J Hiscox 2, C McFadden, A Day, L Stevenson. Redland: C Cameron 3, J Paine 2, D Adkins 2, D Cameron-Reeves, A Christensen, J Lyons, B Howard, L Rogerson, B Saunders.
BEST – Sydney University: N Cooper, J Hiscox, S Tagliabue, T Young, N Reinhard. Redland: A Williams, S Mills, J Rolls, S Miller, S Cormick, L O’Sullivan.