Former Bomber Jason Laycock couldn't get Burnie over the line against Southport
THE Southport Sharks have secured a round one berth in the Foxtel Cup after defeating the Burnie Dockers by 28 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
The Sharks thrived in the sunny conditions on the Gold Coast, using their relentless run and spread from contests to open up an otherwise tight battle.
The North East Australian Football League side showed structure and purpose when going forward – an area that last year’s Tasmanian State League premier struggled with in the absence of captain Andrew Lee and former Melbourne star Russell Robertson.
Key forward Josh Baxter was pivotal to the Sharks’ attack, providing a central target throughout the match and kicking three goals, including two in the first quarter.
Versatile Sharks forward Wayde Mills held a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball late in the opening term, resulting in a Stephen Thynne goal that proved the turning point of the contest.
Captain Danny Wise demonstrated leadership through his intensity around stoppages, gathering 16 possessions to go with four clearances.
Workhorse Jason Burge had 19 possessions, five clearances and six inside-50s, leading the Sharks in all three facets of the game.
Ben Merrett, son of Essendon and Brisbane great Roger, presented well as a forward and contributed two goals, demonstrating his potential at both ends of the ground.
For the Dockers, former Essendon ruckman Jason Laycock dominated the ruck and was dangerous going forward – kicking three goals, including two in the opening term.
Vice-captain Darren Banham was superb in defence, recording a game-high 25 disposals and displaying immense tackling pressure.
Midfielder Rudy Barrett demonstrated his unwavering work-rate through his defensive pressure and hunger for the contest, while Kade Munday was busy for the Dockers, equalling Banham with a game-high 25 touches.
Sharks’ key playmaker and former St Kilda midfielder Andrew McQualter missed the game due to injury.
The Sharks travel to Perth to play reigning Foxtel Cup champion Claremont in round one of the knockout competition on June 8.
Southport 4.1 7.5 10.6 11.11 (77)
Burnie 3.1 4.1 4.4 7.7 (49)
Southport: Baxter 3, Kiel 2, Merrett 2, Carr, Mills, Thynne, Screech.
Burnie: Laycock 3, Baldock 2, Morrison, Hayes.
Southport: Baxter, Mills, Burge, Wise.
Burnie: Banham, Laycock, Barrett, Munday.