Southport have soared to the top of the NEAFL standings for the first time in what seems an eternity as the Sharks muscled their way past a spirited Redland side by 22 points at Scottsdale Park on Saturday.
The Sharks, who possess the competition’s most poignant attack on paper, had to endure an arm wrestle with the Bombers for three-and-a-half quarters, but ran away in the final term to emerge 13.5 (83) to 15.15 (105) victors.
The win was Southport’s seventh of the season, drawing level with Sydney University who lost to Aspley earlier in the day, but their superior percentage – a league best 140.3 per cent – was enough to propel the Sharks into top spot.
But the win was no easy feat for the Sharks, or at least not as effortless as their 110-point win over Sydney University the week before.
Redland were a team desperate to compile their second win of the year and took the contest right up to the Sharks until half way through the final term with the margin stretching no further beyond four goals until the 15-minute mark.
Stand-in captain Jackson Paine got his side out to a great start, booting the first major of the game after a superb one-handed juggling mark.
But Southport responded immediately through Michael Manteit and Tom Wilkinson.
Aaron Christensen then cut the margin to two points soon after, but the Bombers were saved by an inaccurate Southport who closed out the opening quarter with a string of four behinds.
In much the same way as the opening stanza, Redland drew first blood in the second term through Matt Hammelmann, and even edging ahead through club debutant Jai Kennealy.
Three further goals to Mitch Johnson gave the Sharks a 17-point lead into the main break.
Both teams traded goals in the third term as the margin was three goals for most of the period. A run of four consecutive Bombers’ scores saw them edge ahead by a solitary point.
But the inaccuracy of those scores – a return of 2.2 – left the door open for Southport to retake the lead, which they did through skipper Andrew Boston who steadied the ship with a trademark long goal in the shadows of three-quarter time.
Southport piled on 10 scoring shots to five in the final term to claim victory and send the two sides to the contrasting ends of the Tribal Sport NEAFL ladder.
After producing 31 disposals in the Sharks’ last encounter with Redland in Round 1, Josh Clayton again was among his side’s most prolific through the midfield, collecting a game-high 30 disposals along with seven clearances.
Stat sheet regulars Hammelmann and Paine again bared a significant influence on proceedings, booting nine of the Bombers’ 13 majors combined.
Southport negater Lee Dale did a superb job to curb the influence of veteran Tom Salter, restricting him to just 15 disposals and one inside 50 while also producing 15 of his own; bobbing up forward late to kick a fourth-quarter goal.
Both Redland and Southport have a bye next week.
Redland v Southport at Scottsdale Park
SOUTHPORT 2.6 6.7 10.10 15.15 (105)
REDLAND 2.0 4.2 9.4 13.5 (83)
GOALS – Southport: M Johnson 3, J Baxter 2, W Hancock 2, M Manteit 2, T Wilkinson 2, J Hall, D Fyfe, A Boston, L Dale. Redland: M Hammelmann 5, J Paine 4, J Kennealy, J Quint, A Christensen, S Copland.
BEST – Southport: R Davis, E Reeves, J Clayton, M Manteit, T Wilkinson, L Dale. Redland: A Williams, J Rolls, K Walsh, J Licht, M Hammelmann, J Paine.