Thunder took on Ainslie yesterday in Alice Springs, in what was the NEAFL Cross Conference Grand Final. Thunder defeated the Morningside Panthers last Sunday to claim their chance at becoming the Inaugural 2011 NEAFL Season Cross Conference Premiers, with Ainslie defeated the Sydney Swans Reservers.
TERRITORY Thunder won the inaugural NEAFL cross-conference grand final by defeating Canberra-based Ainslie by 22 points at Traeger Park. After a slow start, Thunder kicked into action midway through the second quarter after Ainslie forward Michael Lawless had put the visitors 24 points ahead.
After Lawless kicked truly, Thunder piled on four unanswered majors to take a four-point lead into half-time. The free-flowing contest turned into a dogfight in the all-important third quarter and it was Ainslie who kicked the first six-pointer after some 20 minutes through Aaron Vandenberg to give the Tri Colours a five-point lead.
A calm, captain’s goal from Cameron Ilett restored Thunder’s slender lead and when Ryan Smith goaled from a 50m penalty, Thunder had an eight-point lead with one quarter remaining.
Thunder full forward Darren Ewing, who kicked a game-high five goals, then kicked arguably the most important goal of the season to open proceedings in the final quarter. William Farrer iced another goal soon after to give Thunder some breathing space and a 20-point lead, but Ainslie had one last roll of the dice.
Marcus Crook, who tried hard all night, slotted his third goal to reduce the Thunder lead to just 14 points. Class then shone as Adelaide Crows premiership star Andrew McLeod kicked truly from a tough set shot and gave Thunder its second taste of premiership glory in just six days.
“It’s quite unique to win two flags in six days,” McLeod said. “I’m just proud of the boys. It was a great team effort.
“To give something back to the Territory is fantastic. “This is very special for me.” Cameron Ilett, who won the Andrew Ireland Medal for best afield, was proud of his side’s twin achievements.
“It’s hard to describe the feeling,” he said. “It is a real credit to all the boys.”
Coach Murray Davis said the side will enjoy the victories. “Hopefully we will have a few guys that will get drafted and a few might retire,” he said. “If we can keep the core group together that will be something to certainly build on.”
Story: NT News.