AFTER fans got a taste of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) football last weekend, Round 2 kicks off with plenty on the lines as the teams look to back-up after long layoff heading into Round 1.
Sturt vs Woodville-West Torrens
Sturt will do battle with Woodville-West Torrens to kick off round two of the SANFL Statewide Super League. The Double Blues led all day and ultimately defeated Central District by 15 points in the season-opener last weekend. After missing out on a finals berth last season, Woodville-West Torrens narrowly lost their opening encounter of 2020 to South Adelaide. Despite wrestling back the lead late in the final term, thanks to goals from the Hayes brothers (Jack and Nick) and gun small forward James Rowe, the Panthers escaped with a six-point victory.
If they are to get their season rolling, the Eagles must put time into Sturt recruit Ash Johnson, the brother of current-Crow Shane McAdam, who booted three goals in the win. His aerial ability, athleticism and raw talent ensure he is one to watch. Fellow off-season signing Abe Davis and small forward Josh Hone will also cause headaches for new Eagles coach Jade Sheedy, given their potency up forward. As is often the case, the midfield-battle will be vital to the outcome of this clash. Industrial Sturt skipper James Battersby was arguably to best-on-ground last weekend for his work around the stoppages, collecting 26 disposals, eight tackles and 11 clearances. Dual Magarey Medallist Zane Kirkwood perhaps wasn’t at his damaging best against the ‘Dogs, but will demand serious attention all day.
Jordan Foote and Jimmy Toumpas will again be expected to lead the way in the Eagles engine-room. Foote was a strong inside presence on the weekend, finishing with six clearances, seven tackles and 21 possessions, whilst Toumpas’ class and skill shone on the outside. Midfield mainstays Angus Poole and Sam Rowland will be looking to benefit from the tap-work of big-man Jarrad Redden, who will do battle with Sturt’s Daniel Fahey-Sparks. The athletic Fahey-Sparks looks to have made big strides in the off-season, finishing the match against Central Districts with 52 hitouts and four clearances from his six possessions. Redden will receive a welcome chop-out from Jack Hayes, who proved a colossus in the air against South. Hayes booted two goals, recorded 17 hit-outs and clunked five contested marks but was also effective at ground-level, laying eight tackles and a couple of clearances. Sturt will be hopeful of regaining prolific midfielder Sam Colquhoun, who missed the round one clash with a hamstring injury, and medium-forward Jake Sutcliffe, who was struck down by illness.
The Eagles and Double Blues Reserves will converge at Peter Motley Oval on Sunday morning to continue their seasons. In another close finish, Woodville-West Torrens managed to defeat their South Adelaide opponents by eight points on Sunday, in a match where both sides were efficient in front of goal. However, that was not the case for the Double Blues reserves, who were bombarded early and will rue missing a number of opportunities in their 14-point loss to Central Districts. After a strong season last year, the Double Blues will be looking to notch up their first win against Woodville-West Torrens, who were beaten by Norwood in the 2019 Reserves Grand Final.
The Under 18s sides will do battle after the reserves game on Sunday afternoon, with the Double Blues looking to build upon a comprehensive 48-point win over the Bulldogs. The Eagles, a traditional under-18s powerhouse, were defeated by close-rivals South Adelaide by ten-points. The Eagles have won the past two U18 Torrens University Cups over the Panthers but South Adelaide gained some round one revenge, despite the best efforts of prolific Eagles midfielder Caleb Poulter.
Poulter, a versatile 191cm prospect kicked a goal and amassed 34 disposals, seven marks (two contested), ten tackles, and seven clearances in the loss. Promising SA Hub tall forward Zac Phillips booted two goals and will prove a difficult match-up for the Sturt defence. The Double Blues will again be looking to feed off the midfield work of Mani Liddy and Tom Powell, who were both dominant in the win over Centrals at Elizabeth Oval. Look out for half-forward Morgan Ferres, who impressed with his clean hands and aerial ability in the victory.
Norwood vs North Adelaide
Off-the-back of an impressive round one win over West Adelaide, the Roosters will face a tough test on Saturday afternoon against the battle-hardened Redlegs. In a re-match of the 2018 Grand Final, Norwood will be keen on asserting themselves on the contest, after being narrowly defeated by Glenelg in the marquee game of the opening round. North Adelaide’s x-factor forward Lewis Hender jumped out of the blocks, kicking seven goals-straight in the 29-point win.
Encouragingly for new coach Jacob Surjan, the Roosters off-season signings all started well, with midfielders Cameron Hewett, Andrew Moore and Billy Hartung getting involved early and finishing with 18, 25 and 19 disposals, respectively. Hewett and fellow inside midfielders Campbell Combe and Tom Schwarz were strong on the inside of the contest, laying a combined 28 tackles. The Roosters on-ball unit will need to be at their best when they face a battle-hardened Norwood midfield, headlined by deadly trio Richard Douglas, Matthew Nunn and Mitch Grigg.
Douglas, a star signing in the off-season, recorded eight tackles and four clearances from his 20 touches, whilst Nunn, Grigg and Matthew Panos all benefited from the dominance of premier-ruckman Sam Baulderstone. Roosters ruckman James Craig will have his work cut out for him against the 200cm Baulderstone, who has proven to be the leagues best ruckman over his career. The Norwood on-ball unit is formidable and will only be further improved by the anticipated addition of Ryan Bastinac, who started the season in the reserves.
Norwood defenders Nik Rokahr, Mitch Wilkins and Nick Pedro face the daunting task of shutting down Roosters forwards Frank Szekely and Kym LeBois, who kicked a combined five goals in the win over West Adelaide. Injuries plagued Rooster Harrison Wigg‘s AFL career during stints with Adelaide and the Gold Coast, however his obvious talent was on show for all to see on Saturday, collecting 27 disposals, nine marks and six rebound 50s. Norwood must look to nullify his intercept marking ability across the backline. Redlegs running-machine Anthony Wilson is expected to miss another week with a calf injury, but tall defender Michael Talia faces a test to prove he is over his hamstring complaint. For the red and white, tall Alex Barns and son-of-a-gun Ben Jarman will both face tests after sustaining ankle injuries. The Redlegs will start as the clear favourites, but a revamped Roosters side will be eyeing off what would be a major scalp.
North Adelaide won the reserves competition in 2018 but, much like the clubs league side, slumped in 2019. Wooden-spooners from last season, the Roosters reserves will face the Redlegs seconds at the Parade on Sunday afternoon. Norwood were beaten by Glenelg last weekend and will be eager to bounce-back on home turf. Ryan Bastinac could be promoted to the league side after brushing off the cobwebs in the reserves against Glenelg. Norwood small midfielder Harry Nelligan has attracted the attention of draft watchers for his fierce tackling and prolific ball-winning and will expected to once-again line-up at reserves level on Sunday. For North Adelaide, young midfielder Harrison Magor and promising key defender Dyson Hilder will be looking to build form in the reserves to mount a case for a call-up to the Roosters league set-up.
Norwood’s Under 18s side failed to land a punch against the Bays on Saturday, going down by 44 points. Matthew Dnistriansky‘s work across the backline was a standout in the defeat. He collected a team-high 25 disposals, nine marks and 10 rebounds. SA Hub member Cooper Murley also showed signs in the loss. The Roosters Under 18s defeated the Bloods by 12-points in round one, with exciting small forward and potential Crows NGA prospect Tariek Newchurch booting three goals. Captain Jamison Murphy has turned the heads of recruiters since picking football over cricket and will again be one to watch in the midfield, after a well-rounded performance at Prospect Oval last Saturday. He collected 26 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two clearances, six inside 50s and five rebounds.
South Adelaide vs Glenelg
South Adelaide held off the fast finishing Eagles but face a more daunting task in the form of the reigning-premiers, Glenelg. Ken Farmer Medalist Liam McBean booted four goals to confirm his status as the leagues best key forward and will prove a tough match-up, likely for South Adelaide key defender Jake Summerton, who gains no reprieve after battling the Hayes brothers last weekend. Rugged midfielders Matthew Snook and Bradley Agnew were as industrial as ever and Marlon Motlop‘s silky skills will worry the South Adelaide coaching staff.
Magarey Medallist Luke Partington was not quite at his destructive best, but will prove a handful for the Panthers midfield, which will likely be without skipper Matthew Rose after he sustained a shoulder injury. In his absence, star onballer Joel Cross was left to do much of the heavy lifting and will again be relied upon in the engine room against a strong Glenelg midfield. Encouraging for the Panthers were the senior debuts of small forward Beau McCreery and versatile draft prospect Zac Dumesny.
McCreery proved invaluable in the last term, helping wrestle back the momentum by kicking back-to-back majors late in the final term, and Dumesny did not look out of place, collecting 11 disposals. Although several years older than McCreery and Dumesny, former-Power defender Matthew Broadbent also made a successful debut for the club down back.
Glenelg’s recruits also performed well, with former-Docker Jack Hannath strong in the ruck and Jackson Edwards providing solid rebound from the defensive-50. South Adelaide’s Malcolm Karpany suffered a back injury and will face a test later in the week, and Glenelg’s Tom Condon will also need to prove his fitness before the Sunday afternoon clash. Glenelg deservedly start as favourites, but South will be feeling positive after a win over the Eagles.
The Panthers and Tigers reserves will lock-horns at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday in a mid-morning time-slot. The Tigers defeated Norwood by 22-points last weekend, whilst the Panthers, despite kicking straight, were beaten by the Eagles in a close-encounter at Woodville’s Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. The Tigers Reserves will be looking to build upon the solid start and continue to feed-off the recent success of the league side, whilst the Panthers are aiming to launch a finals campaign after missing out in the previous four seasons.
The Bays made it three-from-three across the weekend when the under-18s recorded a comprehensive 44-point triumph. SA Academy Hub member and potential Crows father-son prospect Luke Edwards was solid in the win, collecting 22 disposals. His versatility, size and experience as a bottom-ager at the 2019 National Championships will likely see him move beyond under-18s level soon enough. Luke Pedlar was dominant for the Bays, finishing the clash with Norwood with 28 disposals, three marks, six tackles and four clearances, whilst Lucas Schultz bagged four majors. Key tall Riley Holder could prove a handful for the Panthers, as could the running capacity of Xavier Robins. Panthers skipper Nicholas Kraemer is expected to lead from the front once again, after his nine-tackle showing against the Eagles.
West Adelaide V Central Districts
In the final match of round two, Central Districts take on West Adelaide, with both sides no-doubt eager to earn their first points of the new season. The Bulldogs struggled to get things going in their forward half, despite the exciting off-season acquisition of Daniel Menzel. Centrals would have been pleased with the efforts of midfielders James Boyd, Jarrod Schiller and Nick Lange, who battled hard against a strong Double Blues on-ball unit.
This week, they will face the likes of former-Hawk Dallas Willsmore and consistent veteran Kaine Stevens. The ruck battle is also likely to be closely fought, between West Adelaide big man Andre Parrella and Centrals’ Jonathan Marsh. Whilst Marsh was beaten in the ruck by Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks, he still managed 37 hitouts and was busier around the ground than his Sturt counterpart, collecting 10 disposals and laying seven tackles. Parrella, one of the competitions best tap ruckmen, beat North’s James Craig on the weekend, winning the hitouts 49 to 29.
The eyes of many draft watchers will remain fixed on ultra-talented ruckman/tall-forward Riley Thilthorpe, who will again line-up in attack for the Bloods, alongside skipper Tom Keough. Energetic small forward Lyndon Hupfeld will be one to watch this week, after his four-goal performance against North. The Dogs enter the round two clash with a clean-bill of health, but Bloods off-season signing Josh Koster will miss with a hamstring injury. Josh Schiller missed a large chunk of 2019 with a shoulder injury and suffered a back complaint in the clash with North Adelaide. He faces a test to prove his fitness. Although both sides are not expected to feature in the finals series, this match-up could prove to be the closest of all the round two fixtures.
Central Districts reserves side will make the trip down into Adelaide’s western suburbs to do battle with the Bloods at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Dogs are coming off a hard-fought victory over Sturt, whilst West Adelaide made the Roosters pay for their inaccurate goal-kicking, coming out victorious by 31 points away from their Richmond home. Currently top after the opening round of action, the Bloods will be eager to continue their winning ways after a disappointing 2019 season which saw the side finish seventh. The Bulldogs seconds have been strong performers over the past few seasons, finishing in the finals since 2017 but failing to claim the ultimate prize.
The Under-18 sides for the respective clubs will also face-off on Saturday. The Bloods and Bulldogs both lost their opening round fixtures but West will likely start this encounter as favourites, given the Bulldogs under-18s struggles in recent seasons. Midfielders Lewis Cowham and 16-year-old Austin McDonald were rare highlights during the hefty loss to Sturt, with both players finding an abundance of the football. McDonald was particularly strong around the stoppages, finishing with a game-high 12 clearances despite his inferior age. After facing Sturt, SA Academy Hub midfielders Tom Powell and Mani Liddy last weekend, the Dogs onballers gain no reprieve and appear set to clash with the prolific Bailey Chamberlain. Forward Jye Sinderberry may also cause some headaches for the Bulldogs defenders.