The Redland Bombers produced a stunning second half to run down the NT Thunder and storm back into finals contention in Alice Springs today.

Saturday 3 July 2010

A serious halftime heart-to-heart and an inspirational performance by Scott Clouston helped Redland to an upset 10-point win over the NT Thunder in Alice Springs today.

Redland’s season appeared dead when they trailed 3.8 to 7.7, having continued their trait of poor turnovers and bad goalkicking that has dogged them all season.

Coach Matty Francis, who has overseen the Bombers’ rise from easybeats to top three last year, laid it all on the line at the long break.

“We had an honest discussion from the coach to the players,” Francis said. “We were in this nice little room that had no windows and no doors and measured about three metres by three metres.

“It was perfect for what we needed – and it was a one-way conversation.

“We have been working hard on our skills but they were deplorable in the first half – I let them know it was completely unacceptable at this level.

“They responded magnificently.”

Suddenly a team that wasted 1.6 in the first half and had butchered opportunities all year blasted 8.0 in the third quarter to grab a six-point lead at the last change, then added 4.1 in the last term to win 15.9 (99) to 13.11 (89).

Jamie Hackett made an incredible seven centre clearances in the third quarter and Scott Clouston finished with a stunning 22 marks and five goals.

Clouston, the architect of Redland’s big finish last week that fell just short against Labrador, worked tirelessly at centre-half-forward.

“His workrate is phenomenal,” Francis admired afterwards.

Hackett has stepped up from a raw defender to quality ruck-rover.

“He has taken his game to a new level,” Francis agreed.

With Adam Mueller providing a great foil alongside Clouston at half-forward and James Charlesworth’s sheer class shining through, the Bombers registered their fourth win from four encounters against the Thunder.

The Thunder were powerless to stop the Bombers big forwards, unbalanced by a virus on match day that robbed them of the experienced Cameron Roberts, and a mixup that saw Zephi Skinner miss a bus back to Darwin from Fitzroy Crossing.

“We had our chances but in the end we made a few more mistakes than what they did,” said Thunder coach Murray Davis.

“They wanted it a bit more at times than what we did. Clouston was a standout and he and a few of the elite players made a difference.”

The Bombers got back-to-back goals when the game was up for grabs late in the final term, then the Thunder missed with one gettable shot and hit the post with another that consigned them to defeat and left them vulnerable again in fourth place.

Davis was pleased with the form of Brett Goodes, who has produced his best football in recent weeks, and similarly Jake Dignan.

Cameron Ilett was again prominent although not as clean with the ball as he has been in recent weeks, while brother Jarred tried to inspire his team with his ferocious attack on the ball.

The loss means the Thunder are still to win in their second home at Alice Springs this season and face a huge clash with Morningside in Darwin next Saturday night.

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