2021 SANFL Preliminary Finals wrap: Jaw-dropping performance from potential top pick not enough to save Panthers

AN outstanding performance from potential number one AFL Draft pick Jason Horne-Francis was not enough to help his South Adelaide side get across the line, with the Panthers’ season coming to a close at the hands of reigning premier Glenelg in Friday night’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Preliminary Final. Glenelg lead at every break, and made the most of their chances in the second half to kick away with a 28-point win at Adelaide Oval under lights.

The Bays started off a big weekend weekend of finals football across the central and western parts of the country, by taking a nine-point lead into quarter time. Both sides continued to battle hard, with three goals apiece in the second seeing the minor premiers taking a 10-point advantage into the main break. With Horne Francis and Matty Roberts (two goals) impacting on the scoreboard, South actually lead early in the second term before back-to-back goals to Luke Reynolds, and Billy Stretch closed out the half. Horne-Francis kicked his second early in the third term to cut the deficit to nine points, but the next two went the way of the Bays to open up a 16-point lead with a quarter to play.

South Adelaide would rue missed opportunities in the last, as back-to-back behinds from Horne-Francis lead a run of four straight behinds for the Panthers, with Marlon Motlop punishing them up the other end. Horne-Francis kicked his third midway through the quarter to give the lower ranked side a sniff, with the deficit back to two straight kicks and plenty of time on the clock. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Glenelg had other ideas as Liam McBean stepped up after a relatively subdued performance, with the league leading goalkicking slotting two goals to end the contest, as the Panthers kicked another three behinds. By the time the siren sounded, Glenelg had won 11.11 (77) to 6.13 (49).

Jason Horne-Francis celebrating one of his three goals. Picture credit: Scott Starkey/SANFL

Glenelg had 21 more disposals, running at an impressive 77 per cent disposal efficiency and making the most of their chances with only three more scoring shots, but running out 28-point winners. The Bays’ ability to clunk marks was the difference with a whopping 88 marks to 52 (13-8 contested), whilst laying 18 more tackles despite having more of the ball. The Panthers dominated the clearances (50-35) despite Glenelg winning the hitouts (45-37), though the inside 50s were even.

Ex-Calder Cannons ball-winner Dylan Landt racked up a whopping 33 disposals, nine marks, five inside 50s and 14 rebound 50s to be best-on for the winners, as Andrew Bradley (25 disposals, six marks, four clearances, five tackles, five inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and Matthew Allen (22 disposals, 10 marks – three contested – four tackles, five inside 50s and four rebound 50s) both found plenty of the ball. Luke Partington and Matthew Snook both had 19 touches and combined for nine clearances and seven inside 50s in the win, whilst Sam Durdin had seven rebound 50s from 16 touches.

Horne-Francis finished with an eye-opening 24 disposals, four marks – two contested – four tackles – 11 clearances, four inside 50s and 3.3 – in the clear standout performance on the ground. The 18-year-old teamed up well with fellow draft prospect Roberts (10 disposals, three marks, six tackles, four inside 50s and 2.1), whilst Hayden Sampson lead the disposal count with 28 touches, two marks, two tackles, five clearances, eight inside 50s and four rebound 50s. Nic Schwartz (27 disposals, six marks, five tackles, eight clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Joseph Haines (25 disposals, six marks – two contested – three tackles and 13 rebound 50s) were also outstanding despite the loss.

Meanwhile in the Reserves, Central District has continued its outstanding run from fifth spot to reach the 2021 SANFL Grand Final, defeating second placed Woodville-West Torrens by four points in the preliminary final. Both teams struggled with inaccuracy throughout the Saturday afternoon contest, though a two goals to one final term helped the Bulldogs get over the line. Just 11 goals were kicked from 35 scoring shots, as the visitors stepped up when required in the last term. Mitchell Mead kicked a vital goal eight minutes into the last quarter for his side to take the lead, before an immediate response from Tyson Richard put the Bulldogs back in front by a point. The Eagles kicked three consecutive behinds to regain the lead by two points in the dying minutes, only for Jordan Tippens to kick the match winner with 24 minutes on the clock and send Central District into the grand final, 6.11 (47) to 5.13 (43).

Luca Whitelum (21 disposals, 10 marks – three contested – three tackles, five inside 50s and two goals) and Oliver Shaw (20 disposals, four marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and five rebound 50s) were the two main ball-winners for the Bulldogs in the win. Billy Iles was sensational in defence, picking up a game-high eight rebound 50s to go with 13 disposals, whilst Rhett Montgomerie was his partner-in-crime thanks to 12 touches and five rebound 50s. Tippans slotted two goals from 12 touches to join Whitelum as the other multiple goalkicker in the match, while Jacob Templeton (15 disposals, six clearances) was a key extractor.

The Eagles dominated a lot of possession with four players topping the best Central count, lead by Ethan Haylock (29 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Cooper Gaffney (27 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles and five rebound 50s). Lachlan Hoile (24 disposals, six marks, three tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s) and Pierce Seymour (23 disposals, nine marks and five rebound 50s) were also prominent in the win, whilst Zane Williams tried hard in transition with 18 touches, six marks, seven inside 50s and a goal alongside Mead (16 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal).

Glenelg has earned itself a rematch in the SANFL Grand Final, with Central District now to face Glenelg’s Reserves, the minor premiers in that division next week, avoiding a double-up of Eagles and Bays grand finals.


Picture credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

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