IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 4 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Northern Territory Thunder Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 when the teams played out a one-sided contest in Williamstown, with Western soaring to a big win after quarter time.
WESTERN JETS 3.8 | 9.14 | 12.19 | 18.24 (132)
NT THUNDER 4.3 | 5.4 | 8.7 | 9.7 (61)
Round 4 | Sunday April 14, 2019
Downer Oval, 2:30pm
The Western Jets hosted Northern Territory on a blustery Sunday afternoon in Williamstown, looking to score its second win of the season after consecutive defeats cancelled out their Round 1 triumph. It served as the Thunder’s third NAB League fixture for 2019 as part of the Northern Academy cameos, with the Top-End squad also scratching for a win. After fruitless contests against the Gold Coast Academy and newly full-time appointed Tasmania Devils, it was also NT’s first game back against a Victorian opponent. They would head into the fixture minus a couple of AFL Academy stars in Joel Jeffrey and SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr, but boasted a bunch of youngsters with senior NTFL experience. For the Jets, talls were a key asset despite the absence of now-Hawk, Emerson Jeka, while fellow rookie draftee Josh Honey was also out of action.
In an opening term of swinging momentum, the Thunder got the jump twice to snatch a quarter time lead by the narrowest of margins. Wade Derksen‘s major was cancelled out by Samuel Clifford, before Cassius White helped Western sneak ahead. But three goals in a little over five minutes saw the Thunder surge back in front once again, with a further 1.5 from the home side taking them to within a goal of their opponents.
With the wind advantage and some slightly sharper finishing, the Jets then looked to take the game away from the visitors with 6.6 to NT’s 1.1, setting up a 34-point buffer at the main break – twice the Thunder’s score. Leading goalkicker on the day, Aaron Clarke began to have a say, booting three of his four goals coming within the second stanza, while White added his second and Cooper Mackenzie-George notched two majors of his own. Tyson Woods‘ first shot through the big sticks was the Thunder’s sole form of resistance, with the physical Jets finding their groove.
The scoring somewhat settled after the main break in a period of play akin to the opener, with the two sides sharing six goals evenly. The NT cut into the telling margin through another major to Woods after talented St Mary’s product Braxton Ahmat hit the scoreboard within the first minute, bringing their side to within four goals. But Clarke’s near-immediate response and a couple further daggers hit to the heart of the Territory’s comeback, with Western’s ascendancy pushed out to 36 points with one period to play.
The respectable margin was blown out in the fourth term to 71 points upon the final siren as Western added six goals to one to take full advantage of the strong tailwind. Saad El-Hawli joined in on the scoring act to add his second and third majors, with 2019 leading goalkicker Archi Manton firing a couple through as consolations. NT’s only goalkicker happened to be Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell, who capped off a solid outing with a classy six-pointer before going on to light up the NTFL for Wanderers. The Thunder simply ran out of legs in the end and could not make up the gap with the wind advantage, succumbing to Western’s superior scoring power.
Those avenues to goal were mostly through Clarke, who finished with 4.6 and was joined by White, El-Hawli, Manton, and Mackenzie-George as multiple goalkickers, with Western boasting an impressive nine individual scorers. On the ball, overager Daly Andrews (25 disposals, four marks, six tackles, six inside 50s) sharked the taps of fellow 19-year-old Will Kennedy (25 disposals, six marks, 28 hitouts) beautifully, as the two led all-comers for disposals. One to watch for this year, Lucas Failli booted 1.3 from 15 disposals, while Bailey Ryan almost had a day out with his 0.4 from 21 touches.
For NT, Southern Districts prospect Brandon Rusca also had 25 touches to go with five marks and six inside 50s, with bigman Stephen Cumming duelling well against Kennedy in the ruck to notch 18 disposals, 30 hitouts and a goal. O’Connell was dangerous as usual with a steady 18 disposals and one goal, with Maurice Rioli Jnr returning 16 touches as a bottom-ager, while St Mary’s teammate Jacob Long had 17 and talented inside midfielder Ben Jungfer saw it 15 times. Woods’ three goals were the standout alongside the feats of Ahmat, with both taking their chances from more limited supply.