THERE is now a three-point gap (one and a half wins) between fourth and fifth in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition. As North Adelaide, South Adelaide, West Adelaide and Norwood all claimed victories, it gave the four sides some breathing space inside the top four from Sturt, Woodville-West Torrens, Glenelg and Central District in the bottom four. This is part one of the two-article wrap with the two Saturday games.
NORWOOD 1.0 | 3.4 | 4.6 | 4.10 (34)
WWT EAGLES 0.1 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 4.3 (27)
Norwood: K. Fenton, A. Lischmund, J. Macolino, Zander.
WWT: J. Sedunary 2, A. Blanden, K. Lee.
Norwood: J. Macolino, B. Smith, N. Allen, M. Zander, S. Armitstead
WWT: J. Sedunary, C. Dolan, A. Landen, T. Maher, J. Zecevic
Norwood managed to hold off a determined and fierce-tackling Woodville-West Torrens Eagles squad to record a seven-point victory on Saturday. The Redlegs kept coming throughout the game despite being down at each break, and hit the front late in the third term, only for the Redlegs to respond in the last 30 seconds. A goalless final term resulted in Norwood holding on by dominating forward possession and restricting any chance the Eagles had of scoring with four straight behinds to win 4.10 (34) to 4.3 (27).
Jess Macolino stood up across four quarters for the Redlegs, working well in the forward half of the ground to win a truckload of it alongside Matilda Zander and Najwa Allen, whilst Bella Smith clunked some huge grabs across the ground. For the Eagles, it was current St Kilda and former Adelaide AFL Women’s talent Jess Sedunary, and young star Charlotte Dolan who really stood out and ensured the visiting side remained in tough right until the end.
The game started with the Eagles having a good first entry inside 50 as Jovanka Zecevic picked up where she left off. Chloe Forby was strong in midfield, but in what would prove to be a story of the day, the Redlegs defence was up to the task. Smith took her first of many contested grabs at half-back, and then it was rinse and repeat as the Eagles relentlessly attacked and Amie Blanden was strongly leading out and being rewarded. Kate Poole had the first set shot chance at goal from a contested mark 20m out in front, but it went wide and out of bounds. The Eagles continued to lift the pressure with Kiana Lee intercepting the ball off the kick-out and gave it off for a flying shot, but it missed.
As if the score was something that forced Norwood to fire up, the Redlegs suddenly began to spring to life. After struggling to get it past halfway, Leah Cutting who had been dominating the ruck took a strong mark at half-forward and centred it to Sophie Armitstead 35m out straight in front. Her shot was on track but fell just short and knocked back into play on the line. Zander was building into the game even though the Eagles were making a conscious effort to stop her run out of the stoppage, and soon it was Norwood fiercely attacking.
This time though, it was the work of Sedunary and Dolan in defence who were marking at half-back and running forward, with the composure strong between the pairing. Time and time again the Redlegs would try and get the ball forward without much luck, but Sedunary was having a massive impact on the contest and winning the ball everywhere. Allen had a flying shot on goal later in the term but it bounced out and it took until Kate Fenton had a quick snap around her body to clear the pack close to goal and bounce through for the first major of the game.
With just three minutes left in it the Eagles changed towards goal, but the Redlegs returned serve thanks to an Isabel Martin intercept and the ball eventually got forward in the dying seconds for Alison Ferrall to have a shot from tight on the boundary, but the shot fell short and was kept in for the siren to sound shortly after for a five-point lead.
The second term started like the first with the Eagles doing all the attacking, but a Forby shot from 40m out was touched on the line by Smith in the opening minute. It did not take long for Sophie Zuill to find a running Sedunary with great hands out of congestion for the AFLW talent to put through the Eagles and hit the front by two points. It did not take long for Norwood to answer though, with Alana Lischmund receiving a free kick 30m out straight in front moments later and she delivered. In the blink of an eye, the Redlegs lead was out to 10 when Macolino got on the end of some fast movement out of the middle and put through a running goal.
The Redlegs were right on top with Zander and Allen both winning plenty of the ball in midfield, and Monique Hollick also having a big impact around the ground. Smith launched a massive bomb from outside 50, but it just bounced the wrong side of the post, and despite all of the Eagles attempts to run the ball out of defence, they were swarmed by Norwood jumpers to keep them locked in the Redlegs’ attacking half.
Smith was having a huge game in the air with some big marks, and Norwood continued to push forward with numbers running into space. However it allowed space at the back and once the Eagles got over the top, it led to Kate Poole kicking towards goal and a fortunate Blanden to win the footrace with her opponent and soccer it home to cut the deficit back to five.
Macolino was having a blinder through the middle and involved in everything, whilst Smith and Allen were also productive around the round. Sedunary was having a great game for the Eagles and causing plenty of headaches for the Norwood side, and with a few behinds late in the term including a poster from Cutting, Norwood headed into half-time on top by eight points.
The third term saw the return of the Eagles, with Kiana Lee wasting no time to put her side within two points in the opening few minutes. Tesharna Maher was having a few nice touches and running with the ball on the outside, but again Smith intercepted with a strong mark and Zander was starting to find the space she needed to go to work.
Norwood had its chances in the third term, but were missing, with Lishmund having back-to-back chances but putting her shots to either side of the goals. Instead, it was the Eagles who were doing the bulk of the attacking and soon made it count. After narrowly missing a chance due to a rushed behind, the visitors had another goal through Sedunary who marked well straight in front of the big sticks 25m out off a Maher pass. For the first time, the Eagles were in front and the belief was there.
Except Zander and Norwood had other ideas. With the time whittling down into the last 30 seconds, a turnover was marked by Gallagher who gave it off to a running Zander inside 50 and put one through to prompt much celebration right before the three quarter time siren.
The last term was just a real territory battle, won by Norwood who had the ball inside 50 for the bulk of the term. The Eagles did not look like scoring other that a couple of early chances, with Smith and Armitstead doing well with moving the ball forward. Zander tried to go for a run but was run down brilliantly by Sedunary who never stopped pushing.
Try as they might, Norwood kept throwing everything at the goals, with a number of shots from Smith and Mattea Breed who had a couple of huge contested grabs in the last few minutes. When the siren sounded, Norwood had got up by seven points in a tight thriller that had plenty of ebbs and flows throughout the match.
SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.3 | 5.6 (36)
CENTRAL DISTRICT 2.0 | 2.0 | 2.1 | 3.2 (20)
South: J. Kirk, G. Schirmer T. Charlton, S. Peters, N. Campbell.
Central: S. Murphy 2, K. Rosenzweig.
South: I. Tahau, N. Gore, T. Charlton, T. Meyer L. Whiteley
Central: S. Allan, S. Smith, S. Murphy, K. Rosenzweig, L. Huynh
It took the full four quarters, but reigning premiers South Adelaide finally shook off a determined Central District outfit by 16 points. The Panthers went into the game as strong favourites, but realised how much of a challenge they were in for with Sarah Allan a standout for best on ground in the defensive half and through the ruck for the Bulldogs, as her side lead at quarter time and was within two and eight points respectively at the next two breaks. Whilst the Panthers got up in the end, it was far from easy as the Bulldogs defence showed steely resolve throughout the contest.
The first term saw Central District start strongly and surprise the back-to-back premiers, forcing South Adelaide immediately onto the back foot. Shelby Smith was everywhere, as was Allan who started in the ruck then would drop back to help out the defence. But despite all of Central’s attacking, South’s defence was up to the task, as Teah Charlton was looking good playing off half-back and running the ball out, working well with Nikki Gore and Tahlia Meyer who continued their good form from the week before. Jess Kirk had the first proper shot on goal with a running attempt but missed, but then South pressure forced a turnover and it led to another Kirk shot 15m out and the leading goalkicker popped it home.
For the strong work at the clearances, South found the going tough, and Allan was huge in her intercepting across half-back, then utilising the hardness of Smith and the speed of Latiah Huynh who continued to run off her legs throughout the game. Gore and Hannah Munyard were providing just that for the opposition, but Katelyn Rosenzweig‘s work up the ground to lay a number of fierce tackles and lead by example was terrific for the Bulldogs. The Panthers had a few more shorts, but could not extend the lead anymore, and instead it was South who struck back.
Zoe Perry won a contest at half-back, Smith got it through midfield to Rosenzweig who won a one-on-one bounced up before her opponent received the handball as her teammate was being thrown to the ground and the former Adelaide forward snapped a terrific goal. Central was on the board and rewarded for its efforts, and little did the home fans know, the favourites would be trailing at quarter time. Central won a free kick after a great tackle not long before from Smith on Gore, and the ball worked its way to Shannon Murphy who ran in and kicked a superb goal on the move. The last half of the first quarter belonged to Central and they almost looked liked scoring another, but a great tackle by Laura Clifton stopped the Bulldogs kicking a third late goal.
Both teams were battling hard in the second term to try and win an advantage with neither team able to really get too far. Murphy ran down Charlton and Huynh was terrific with her pressure and speed around the ground, while Munyard and Gore were very busy. At one stage, Munyard evaded an opponent took a couple of bounces and got it forward, but again the Bulldogs repelled. It was rinse and repeat as both sides could only manage a behind each, and with only 90 seconds left in the match time was halted due to injury in Central’s defence.
With time back on, the play of the day occurred from South’s back 50 as Meyer pumped it straight down the middle to Kirk who surprisingly passed it back to Meyer. The midfielder dropped the mark but recovered and gave it to Gypsey Schirmer to put through a major just before half-time. The siren sounded moments later for South to now be up by two points at the main break.
Lauren Smith almost had to come off in the opening seconds of the third term after her leg got caught in a tackle, but she bounced back up and continued to push hard, winning a free and passing off to Caitlen Teague who bombed long off half-back. The intensity was as high as it had been in the second term, with Munyard scooping the ball at half-forward getting it to Charlton who kicked deep, Madison Bennett threw a handball over her head knowing a teammate was running into the goalsquare, but Taryn Wills was up to the task and rushed it across.
Demi Sonneman who had been solid once again for Central was even feeling the pinch with an intercepted kick by Tahau who found Charlton, but even the Panthers were under heat with the usually classy Charlton sending it out on the full. It was bubbling that South would eventually score again and so they did when Munyard found Tahau in a big pack, who kicked it straight to Charlton, pulling down a two-grab mark. After a couple of missed opportunities, the young gun made no mistake from 20m out straight in front to put the Panthers up by nine with seven minutes gone.
Allan and Rosenzweig tried to combine for something special in the forward half of the ground, with Murphy and Huynh continuing to win plenty of the ball. Munyard took a terrific mark under heavy contact from Shelby Smith at half-back, and both half-back lines were working overtime. Kirk had a chance at half-forward but in trying to dance around her opponent, was swarmed by Bulldogs and rushed down to the forward line with a minute left, only for Nicole Campbell to get back and save the day. With less than a minute, South looked to slow the clock, but even had a chance to score, through the siren eventually sounded with South up by eight at the final break.
With the game in the balance it was South that went to another gear early in the fourth. Just 90 seconds into the game, Tahau had a chance but again, uncharacteristically shanked the kick to the left to make it a nine-point game. It was Tahau’s presence in the air that helped the breakthrough, bringing the ball to ground and was beautifully roved by Sheena Peters who snapped and goaled to ice the game with a 16-point lead five minutes into the term. Tahau had another chance close to goal but again missed, this time off the side of the boot under immense pressure.
Central was not going to just give up though and continued pushing with the Bulldogs having a chance through Lauren Breguet who missed to the side, as Teague also had a chance but could not quite put it through. If the game was not already done and dusted, then it was when Gore found a leading Campbell inside 50 with her 25m set shot straight in front putting her team 23 points up almost nine minutes into the term.
Gore tried a touchdown style of rushed behind to desperately getting across the line, but the Central defence drag here back to force a stoppage and it paid dividends. A quick handball out of the pack made its way to Murphy who booted a deserving goal for the Bulldogs with a few minutes left. It was a gallant effort by Central, but the reigning premiers just had that extra class when it counted and went to another level, but the Bulldogs pushed them all the way.