Tag: john butcher

SANFL Round 9 preview: Top two look to continue dominance

ROUND 9 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) will see a couple of interesting match-ups across League, Reserves and Under 18s competitions as the pointy end of the season edges ever closer. In the League competition, two ladder-leading sides will looks to continue their form and knock their lower ranked opposition off their game, bordering on top four contention.

North Adelaide vs. Norwood

League: The Redlegs will travel to Prospect Oval to clash with the in form North Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. The Roosters sit alongside Woodville-West Torrens at the pinnacle of the SANFL ladder after two months of action. Meanwhile, the Redlegs sit just outside the top four and appear locked in a battle for a finals spot, after the Tigers ended their four-game winning streak. The Redlegs were competitive against Glenelg early in the match at Coopers Stadium, but a poor second half which yielded just one goal was never going to be enough. It hasn’t always been pretty, but Jacob Surjan‘s North Adelaide continue to get the job done. The red and whites pulled off a miraculous one-point victory after trailing the Bloods late in the final term on Friday night. It was a seesawing affair at Hisense Stadium, but two final quarter goals to Will Combe proved the difference.

The Redlegs managed to win many of the key statistics, including disposals, disposal efficiency, marks and tackles, however Glenelg’s hard-nosed midfield finished plus-9 in clearances and generated 24 scoring shots to 16. A major reason behind the Bays triumph was the performance of Jack Hannath in the ruck, who kept dominant Redleg Sam Baulderstone to just 28 hit-outs – his lowest of the season. This week, Rooster James Craig will go head-to-head with Baulderstone and attempt to nullify his influence. Craig is averaging 30 hit-outs per game but must be weary of Baulderstone’s ability to get involved in general play, having averaged 18.3 disposals at 73 per cent kicking efficiency in eight matches.

North were largely outplayed for much of the game at Richmond, loosing most of the key statistics. But at the end of the night, they prevailed on the scoreboard, the most important statistic of all. The aforementioned Craig provided the Roosters midfielders with first use and they took advantage, smashing the Bloods 22-37 in the clearances. Vice-captains Andrew Moore and Tom Schwarz almost recorded more clearances than the entire West Adelaide side, combining for 17. However it was the rebound and precise kicking of half-back duo Harrison Wigg and Alex Spina which proved decisive. They collected 33 and 27 disposals respectively, and set up a multitude of Roosters scoring shots from defence. This weekend, the Norwood forwards must prevent them from using their excellent kicking to break the lines. However the ‘Legs also boast a strong rebounding game, with Brad McKenzie and Cameron Shenton given the role of turning defence into attack.

Up forward, Norwood big man Tommy Pinyon took two strong contested grabs and kicked two goals but was missing for most of the match, collecting just four touches. Peter Bampton and the Richards brothers, Zac and Josh, were also amongst the goals against the Bays. The Norwood midfield, known for their goalkicking ability, must find a way to push forward and help out in attack against a well-drilled Roosters backline, led by key pillars Cameron Craig, Tanner Smith and youngster Dyson Hilder. At the other end of the ground, the Roosters received a six goal boost from Will Combe and Jarrad Allmond – both of whom are not exactly dominant in front of the sticks. Club leading goal kicker Lewis Hender was kept goalless but smalls Kym LeBois and Robbie Young both slotted majors.

The Roosters won by two points when the two sides met in round two, with Campbell Combe starring through the midfield for North. Norwood will dearly miss Josh Richards, who is expected to spend 4-6 weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury. The Roosters could regain premiership duo Alex Barns and Mitch Clisby for the clash, but midfielder Cam Hewett and Billy Hartung will miss at least another week. If past meetings between the 2018 grand finalists are anything to go by, this should be a very entertaining clash.

Reserves: The Roosters made light work of the Bloods in the reserves on Friday evening to move up to fifth on the ladder. Meanwhile, the ‘Legs were downed by Glenelg by 32 points. North will be looking to mount a surge towards the finals while Norwood continue their search for a second win.

Under-18s: Norwood are certainly the team to beat at under-18s level, after moving one game clear at the top of the ladder with a win over the Bays. Meanwhile, the Roosters pilled on the goals against West to win by 54 points. Norwood bottom-ager Cooper Murley and fellow midfielders Jack Saunders and Michael Cavallaro are names to keep an eye on in the red and the blue, while for the Roosters, the prolific Matthew Borg continues to rack up the touches and Elliott McNamara is coming off a six goal performance. Adelaide’s bottom-aged Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Blayne O’Loughlin is one to watch for Crows fans.

 

Central Districts vs. West Adelaide

League: Round nine features the battle of the battlers, with Central Districts set to host West Adelaide at Elizabeth. The Dogs remain winless at the bottom of the ladder, while the Bloods sit above them with just one victory. However the two sides earned their first premiership points of the season when they couldn’t be separated after at the final siren back in round two. Although the results have not gone their way, the two clubs have fought valiantly and will both be eager to claim victory on Saturday afternoon.

West Adelaide will be kicking themselves for dropping points on Friday night after leading the Roosters late in the fourth term. Over at Peter Motley Oval, the ‘Dogs opened the scoring after just 30 seconds of play thanks to a Jordan O’Brien goal. But the Double Blues, desperate to keep their season alive, kicked away after the first break and never gave the Bulldogs a sniff. Although West tackled well, kicked at 80 per cent efficiency and won more disposals than North, the Bloods were comprehensively beaten in the hit-outs (47-20) and clearances (37-22). Central’s scoring woes continued, booting five goals and 12 behinds. Unlike the Bloods, they were well-beaten around the ground, finishing minus-56 for disposals and a massive minus-50 for marks. Although they were able to win the clearances (44-38), the ‘Dogs are finding it difficult to mount any scoreboard pressure of late.

The Bulldogs and Bloods midfielders have battled hard for little return so far in 2020. This clash features two of the SANFL’s most consistent on-ballers in Bulldog James Boyd and West’s Kaine Stevens. A genuine ball-magnet, Boyd comfortably leads the league in disposals, averaging 31.4 per game. However he is also using it beautifully, going at 89 per cent efficiency, and will almost certainly feature prominently come Magarey Medal night. Stevens also sits inside the top ten for disposals, at an average of 24.9 per game. A stoppage specialist who uses his big body to good advantage through the middle, the 27-year-old has provided West with plenty of experience through the middle and complimented fellow on-ballers Jordon Boyle and Brett Turner. The ‘Dogs have been well-served by the Schiller brothers, Jarrod and Travis, for a number of years now and they remain an important component through the middle with their strong defensive pressure and clearance-winning.

West Adelaide skipper Tom Keough has booted 12 goals so far this year and is the go-to guy up forward. Likely top ten draft pick Riley Thilthorpe has also shown plenty of glimpses of his tremendous talent, playing predominantly up forward with stints through the ruck at various times. The teenager has taken 12 contested marks this season and his size, leap and reach has proven a tough assignment for opposition defenders. John Butcher is the undisputed focal point of the Bulldogs forward line, but youngsters Corey Durdin and the aforementioned O’Brien have also provided impacted the scoreboard. Durdin was kept to just four touches against Sturt before he injured his hamstring, but has pieced together a strong season in difficult circumstances. However, he is expected to miss two weeks with a low-grade hamstring strain.

Boyd has been his side’s leading rebounder, but skipper Luke Habel has been a calming presence for the inexperienced Bulldogs outfit. For West Adelaide, veteran Logan Hill‘s rebound and ball use (95 per cent kicking efficiency) has been a real standout. The 188cm Mitch Duval has also shown good signs since coming into the league side in round three.

In a cruel blow, the Bulldogs will be without Troy Menzel for the remainder of the season after he suffered a serious ankle injury in the loss. He joins brother Daniel on the clubs long-term injury list. Meanwhile, West will be hoping defender Elliott Dunkin (wrist) and Josh Ryan (shoulder) can pass their respective fitness tests in time for the Saturday afternoon clash.

Reserves: Central Districts flexed their muscles with a 46-point win over Sturt in the reserves competition, while the Bloods woes continued, loosing to North by 52-points. Unlike the league side, Centrals reserves have been the highest scoring side, averaging 90 points per game. Expect them to enter this clash full of confidence.

Under-18s: The Bulldogs under-18s caused the upset of the competition so far when they knocked off the second-placed Double Blues by 17 points. Leek Alleer was excellent in the win, finishing with 22 disposals, two goals and four contested marks. Austin McDonald also continues to find the ball at under-18s level after spending the first few weeks of the 2020 season dominating at under-16s level. West Adelaide continue to fight on in what has been a tricky campaign, however Edward Van Den Berg is one to watch in the red and black.

 

Glenelg vs. South Adelaide

League: South Adelaide will head to the bay to face Glenelg at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday. The Tigers and Panthers find themselves inside the top four after eight rounds of SANFL football. Yet while Glenelg have steadied the ship and won three games on the trot, the Panthers find themselves at risk of dropping out of a finals spot following three consecutive losses.

Glenelg recorded less disposals, kicks, marks and tackles than Norwood last round, but got on top in the midfield and generated eight more scoring shots than the Redlegs. The Panthers, on the other hand, played well for much of the game against the Eagles and kept themselves within striking distance. They won the midfield battle and finished plus-32 for marks and plus-20 for disposals, however Jarrad Wright‘s men were left to rue missed opportunities in-front of goal, finishing with six majors and 15 behinds.

In his first game in the blue and white, the terrific performance of ruckman Paul Hunter will have excited the Panthers coaching staff. The former Crow went up against Eagle Jordan West for much of the game and accumulated plenty of the ball in general play. He collected 24 disposals to go with nine marks (three contested), 22 hit-outs, eight inside-50s and an equal game-high nine clearances in what was a complete performance. This week he is set to come up against Tiger Hannath, who impressed with his ability to nullify the influence of Baulderstone.

The Panthers boast an experienced midfield core, led by superstar Joel Cross, former Power defender Matthew Broadbent and hard-nut Nic Schwarz. On the outside, youngster Hayden Sampson has provided some spark with his speed, run and carry. The Panthers have also given talented 17-year-old Jason Horne an opportunity at league level in recent times. However this week they will do battle with arguably the leagues best in-and-under midfielder in Matthew Snook. As tough as they come, Snook is averaging 28.5 disposals, 7.5 tackles and 9.8 clearances per game and currently sits atop the R.O. Sherman Medal count. However he hasn’t been alone. Luke Partington has started to return to his 2019 best in recent weeks and Bradley Agnew‘s defensive pressure has been outstanding all season. The Panthers will know all about Partington’s abilities, given he kicked three goals in a dominant display against them in round two. Billy Stretch also had his best game in the black and yellow against the Redlegs.

Up forward, the Bays dynamic duo of Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds were kept to just one goal apiece at Coopers Stadium. Both capable of kicking a bag, when they are on the key forwards are very hard to stop. The Panthers will again be without key defensive pillar Tom Highmore who is set to another couple of weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury. Jack Kluske has also found some form in front of the big sticks, kicking five goals in the past four rounds. The Panthers have had an even spread of goal kickers, with smalls Eamon Wilkinson and Beau McCreery combining with big Sam Overall, who slotted three goals against the Eagles – comfortably the leagues best defence.

Down back, Tigers skipper Max Proud has done much of the heavy lifting, with Luke Parks and Michael Virgin providing plenty of rebound from the defensive-50. South Adelaide’s Joseph Haines was held to just eight disposals by Eagle Jack Firns – his lowest count of the season by a considerable margin. Haines has been highly effective this season with his intercept marking, run and carry and penetrating kicking sure to earn him a few Magarey Medal votes. Negating his influence should be high on the agenda of Glenelg coach Mark Stone.

The Tigers beat the Panthers by just five points in their round two encounter, and appear set to enter the re-match with a reasonably clean bill of health. Although draft hopeful Luke Edwards is set to miss another week after suffering a concussion on debut. South Adelaide have four players listed as a ‘test’, including promising teenager Zac DumesnyMark Noble, Jaidan Kappler and Ben Sawford. But, unfortunately, Ben Haren is set to miss 2-3 weeks with a quad strain.

Reserves: After racing out of the blocks at reserves level, Glenelg find themselves in fourth spot on the ladder after recording three losses in the past four games. They should enter this clash as favourites, however, against a Panthers unit which has looked promising at times but struggled for consistency.

Under-18s: The Panthers under-18s will be full of confidence after knocking off the Eagles in a thrilling one-point win at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. All eyes will be on forward/wingman Brayden Cook after his match-winning performance. He continues to rise up draft boards and looks to be a draft smokey. The Tigers have struggled of-late, but watch out for Brodie Edwards, the third son of Crows-legend Tyson, who has accumulated a bit of the ball in recent weeks.

 

Woodville-West Torrens vs. Sturt

League: This week Sturt is provided with the daunting task of taking down the high-flying Eagles, who are still yet to lose since the opening round. The Eagles already possess a match-winning forward line, dour defence and strong, experienced midfield but managed to bolster their on-ball stocks further with the recent signing of James Tsitas from Geelong’s VFL side.

A standout in the VFL for several years, Tsitas made his presence felt in just his second SANFL match on Saturday, laying eight tackles, winning nine clearances and collecting 25 disposals. His side was not dominant on the stats sheet but, as all good sides do, they made South Adelaide pay for their goal kicking inaccuracies. Sturt, on the other hand, recorded a much-needed victory of the Bulldogs at their Peter Motley Oval home. They controlled much of the match on the scoreboard and won most of the key statistical indicators.

A six-goal performance from key forward Jake Sutcliffe was just what the doctor ordered for a Double Blues side which has struggled to kick a winning score all-too-often in season 2020. Better still, two goal-showings from veteran Mark Evans, ruck/forward Dan Fahey-Sparks and small forward Harry Morrison added to the promising display. They will have to replicate their scoring pressure if they are to match it with the potent Eagles offence. James Rowe booted another four goals straight and is clearly the competitions premier small forward. Jack and Nick Hayes were kept relatively quiet against South, but Jake Von Bertouch booted another couple. Firns’ tagging role on Panther Haines was also instrumental in their round eight triumph.

Sturt’s midfield mainstays were all prolific in the win over Central Districts, with skipper James Battersby brilliant at the stoppages, (11 clearances), Sam Colquhoun typically industrial and teenager Casey Voss amongst the leading possession winners once again. However the performances of some fresh faces is what will have really excited coach Nathan GrimaAbe Davis took a few weeks to find his feet at his new club, but has recorded tallies of 26, 31 and 32 disposals in the past three games and is starting to show why Sturt were so keen on recruiting him from South Adelaide. Fellow newcomer Jack Henderson showed some excellent signs in just his second league game and ruckman Darcy Bennett won 32 hit-outs.

They will do battle with an often-underrated Eagles engine room featuring the likes of Tsitas, reigning club champion Jordan Foote, experienced duo Joseph Sinor and Matthew Goldsworthy and Jimmy Toumpas. Youngster Lachlan McNeil has also found his feet at league level this season and is averaging 17.6 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency. Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell’s dash off the half-back line for Woodville-West Torrens has been terrific and teenager Lachlan Jones continues to perform strongly as he pushes for draft selection.

Angus Poole (ribs) and Jarrad Redden (abdominal) have been listed as ‘tests’ for the Eagles. And for the Double Blues, small forward Josh Hone is likely to miss some time after sustaining a foot injury early in the game against the Bulldogs. A win for the Double Blues would be a sensational moral booster, but the ladder leaders present an imposing challenge.

Reserves: The undefeated Eagles reserves just keep getting the job done in the second-tier competition, after easily accounting for the Panther on the weekend. Third-placed Sturt will be looking top bounce back from a hefty-loss at the hands of the second-placed Bulldogs.

Under-18s: The Eagles and Double Blues under-18 sides will be looking to return to the winners list after both recording disappointing losses last round. And there will be plenty of talent on show at Peter Motley Oval, with the likes of Caleb Poulter, Henry Smith and Jase Burgoyne (Eagles) clashing with Tom Powell, Mani Liddy and Will Spain (Sturt).

SANFL Round 8 Preview: Ladder implications as the midway point rolls in

SOUTH Australian National Football League (SANFL) Round 8 will see a heap of tense contests across all three major divisions, with a couple of significant clashes heading up the round in terms of ladder positioning. In the League competition, the clash between Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) Eagles and South Adelaide will have huge bearings on where the likes of Glenelg and Norwood lie at the end of the round given Glenelg have a chance to leapfrog Norwood into the top four – and potentially nab third – if South drops too the ladder leaders.

West Adelaide vs. North Adelaide

League:

The Roosters and Bloods will kick off round eight under Friday night lights at Hisense Stadium. Jacob Surjan‘s North Adelaide have pieced together a strong start to the season and appear to have cemented their spot in the top four for the time being. The red and whites will be looking to continue their winning ways, despite boasting a lengthy injury list. Meanwhile, West Adelaide are in a rebuilding phase, but will still be eyeing off a couple of scalps in the latter stages of the season.

It certainly was not the prettiest of victories, but North Adelaide got the job done on home soil against the Double Blues on Saturday. The Roosters have scored the least amount of points of the top five sides, but their rugged midfield has stood up well so far in season 2020 and applied an abundance of pressure. Vice captain Andrew Moore has been Mr. Consistent, averaging 25 disposals, 5.6 tackles, 6.9 clearances and nearly a goal per game. His fellow deputy Tom Schwarz has also accumulated plenty of the ball, averaging 24 touches 4.7 tackles and 5.1 clearances, while hard-at-it on-baller Campbell Combe remains the league’s number one tackler and currently sits a whopping 14 ahead of second place. West Adelaide trailed the ladder-leading Eagles for the entire match on Saturday afternoon but there were still some bright spots. The Bloods recored more disposals (plus-19) and clearances (plus-8) than their opponents and generally used the ball well (83 per cent kicking efficiency), but were unable to generate enough chances and perhaps overused the ball at-times, finishing -16 for inside-50s. The Roosters will be well aware of Kaine Stevens contested ball winning capabilities and Jordon Boyle‘s ability to both accumulate the footy at will and use it effectively (averaging 24 disposals at 83 per cent efficiency). Stevens and Boyle sit inside the top ten for disposals and, with the support of Brett Turner, must step up against a hard-nosed Roosters midfield.

Westies captain Tom Keough is the Bloods main man in attack, having booted a team-high 11 goals this season. Alongside the veteran, Lyndon Hupfeld adds some much-needed x-factor and recruit Josh Koster will continue to improve after returning from injury last weekend. The Bloods forwards must also pay attention to Rooster Harrison Wigg, who has already proven to be one of the best off-season acquisitions. His precise ball use off half-back has been integral in turning defence into attack for North and should be nullified if West are to claim victory. At the other end of the field, Robbie Young proved he is a valuable component of the Roosters side after booting three goals against Sturt. Fellow small forward Kym LeBois has booted 13 goals this season and is as lively as they come. Their speed and energy in attack is infectious and has sparked the side on several occasions this year.

The Roosters and Bloods faced off in round one earlier this year, with North Adelaide pulling away in the second half after a tight start to the game. Lewis Hender proved the match winner, booting seven straight goals. The Bloods will no doubt be putting plenty of time into him, but the excitement machine will fancy another bag under Friday night lights. The Roosters injury list continues to be of concern, with Ben Jarman and captain Alex Spina the latest to enter the casualty ward. Both will face a test to prove their fitness, as will Bloods ruckman Andre Parrella and key defender Josh Ryan. West midfielder Dallas Willsmore is expected to miss two-to-three weeks with a hamstring injury.

Reserves:

The Bloods and Roosters reserves will be eager to bounce back from hefty losses when they meet on Friday evening. Both sides have struggled this season but a win could provide a much-needed confidence boost.

Under-18s:

It’s been a similar story at under-18s level, with both sides seemingly anchored at the foot of the ladder. However there will still be plenty of talent running around at Prospect Oval. West’s Bailey Chamberlain continues to accumulate a heap of the ball and teammate Luke Young is amongst the competitions best contested markers. For the Roosters, Matthew Borg and Kallis Freer have been the standouts, along with exciting half-backman Blayne O’Loughlin. The athletic Lam Simon continues to show some encouraging signs and AFL Academy Hub duo Jamison Murphy and Tariek Newchurch have also performed well.

 

South Adelaide vs. Woodville-West Torrens

League:

The Panthers and Eagles will meet at Flinders University Stadium in a clash between two likely finalists. Woodville-West Torrens have won seven on the trot, but South Adelaide remain the only side to knock them off in season 2020, after recording a narrow victory at Adelaide Oval back in round one.

The Panthers are one of three sides currently sitting at four wins and three losses, following back-to-back defeats at the hands of North Adelaide and Norwood. South have been up to the challenge every week this season, with their three losses coming at a combined margin of just 17 points. Coach Jarrad Wright must be frustrated with their tight losses, but he will be pleased with the efforts of Joseph Haines. An intercept machine, he has provided plenty of run and carry from defence and used the ball with precision. However, terrific defender Tom Highmore sustained an ankle injury last round and is set to miss up to five weeks. Given the Eagles’ overhead prowess, his injury could not have come at a worse time. Eagle-brothers Jack and Nick Hayes have been outstanding in season 2020, hauling in 14 and 12 contested marks respectively. Jake von Bertouch has also played a pivotal role in the air, taking 13 contested grabs. The trio have booted a combined 32 goals this season. On the rare occasion they don’t stick their marks, small forwards James Rowe and Tristian Carcuro have been ready and waiting to pounce on the crumbs. After both kicking four majors in the win over West, Rowe sits second in the league for goals (22) and Carcuro in eighth with 12.

It’s been relatively smooth sailing for the Eagles over the past few weeks, recording comfortable victories against cellar dwellers Central Districts and West Adelaide in consecutive rounds. And whilst they boast the league’s best forward-line, their defence has also stood tall and conceded the least amount of total points against. Teenager Lachlan Jones has been very impressive down back, as has Tasmanian recruit Rhyan Mansell. Veteran Patrick Giuffreda is as reliable as they come and key defender Pierce Seymour has also performed well. Perhaps most impressive is that the side has been without skipper and key defensive general Luke Thompson, who has not played since round four due to a thigh complaint. The Panthers missed a couple of key chances in-front of goal against the Redlegs at the Parade, but their small and medium forwards have been good so far this season. Liam Fitt is a difficult match up for any opposition defence and Eamon Wilkinson and Beau McCreery are both clever around goal. Of course, the midfield battle will also be a tantalising one, with the likes of dual-Magarey Medalist Joel Cross, former-Port Adelaide veteran Matthew Broadbent and Hayden Sampson going head-to-head with Angus PooleJimmy Toumpas and Joey Sinor. South Adelaide’s young talent has been a real positive this season, with 17-year-old Jason Horne joining Zac Dumesny and McCreery in making their league debuts in 2020.

Although South will sorely miss Highmore, Woodville-West Torrens could regain as many as four senior players, with Matthew Goldsworthy, Jesse Lonergan, the aforementioned Thompson and Jordan Foote all set to face fitness tests. The Eagles mounted a substantial comeback and even grabbed the lead late in the game against the Panther in round one. But South were able to hold their nerve and open the new season with a victory. With both sides boasting plenty of talent, this clash is set to be a beauty.

Reserves:

The Eagles Reserves remain the only undefeated side across all competitions after seven rounds of action, following a comprehensive 88-point demolition of the Bloods. Meanwhile, although inconsistent throughout the year, the Panthers knocked off the Redlegs by 80 points last weekend. With both clubs coming off resounding triumphs, this clash, like the league match to follow, promises to be a close encounter.

Under-18s:

At under-18s level, South Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens find themselves jostling for a spot in the top four. These two clubs have met in the past two Under-18 Grand Finals and boast plenty of talent. Panthers half-forward Brayden Cook caught the attention of AFL recruiters after his four goal effort against the Redlegs. Speedster Phoenix Spicer has also booted nine goals this season and his long runs on the wing have been breathtaking at times. For the Eagles, midfielders Jase Burgoyne and Caleb Poulter have been prolific and Henry Smith has shown some good signs up forward.

 

Sturt vs. Central Districts

League:

The Bulldogs will make the trip across cross-town to Peter Motley Oval to face the Double Blues in the traditional Saturday afternoon time slot. There is no denying it has been a tricky season for the ‘Dogs. But to their credit, they haven’t dropped their bundle and have fought until the final siren each week. It has also been tough going for Sturt, who have lost four in a row after being defeated by the Roosters at Prospect last round.

The Bulldogs, much like the Bloods, are in a rebuilding phase and don’t quite boast the talent level of the top SANFL clubs, but they managed to hold their own in the midfield against the reigning premiers. They were narrowly edged in the hit-outs, clearances and inside-50s, but were more efficient in front of goal than the Tigers. Travis Schiller collected 39 touches and James Boyd gathered 32 and a goal, with both generating plenty of forward-50 entries and winning their fair share of clearances. Troy Menzel and Jarrod Schiller have also been solid contributors this year, with the former collecting a career-high 31 disposals to go with 13 marks. In the Double Blues engine room, skipper James Battersby and Sam Colquhoun have been terrific, accumulating an abundance of the ball, alongside dual Magarey Medallist Zane Kirkwood.

Perhaps Sturt’s biggest concern this season has been their inefficient forward line. Key forward Jake Sutcliffe has booted eight goals in six matches and leading goal kicker Josh Hone has kicked a major in all but one match. However, lacking a genuine focal point, ruckman Dan Fahey-Sparks has spent considerable time up forward in recent weeks, in the hope his size and marking ability can indeed provide a spark. He booted two goals in the loss to the Roosters and another couple in round six. Central Districts’ Justin Hoskin is capable of booting a bag up forward, with his six goals in round four a good example. However he has been held goalless in four of his six games, including by Sturt in round one. Teenager Corey Durdin has been good for a goal per game and, although injury prone, John Butcher has given the ‘Dogs a genuine target in his four matches this season.

The Bulldogs could regain Trent Goodrem and Kyle Jenner from their respective injuries, with both listed as available for selection. However Nick Lange is questionable after he sustained an ankle injury last round. For the Double Blues, Ash Johnson remains a week away from returning from his own ankle complaint. The Double Blues and Bulldogs faced off at Adelaide Oval in round one, with Sturt winning by 15-points in a close affair. Expect their round eight meeting to be a similarly tight and low-scoring contest.

Reserves:

Despite their senior sides siting in the bottom half of the ladder, Sturt and Centrals reserves teams have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign. The Double Blues lost to the ‘Dogs in round one and to the Eagles a week later, but have played some excellent football ever since, recording five straight victories. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs sole defeat was a one-point loss to the Eagles in round six. 

Under-18s:

Sturt appear destined to feature prominently at the pointy end of the SANFL Under-18 season. Tom Emmett has been terrific up forward and midfield trio Will SpainMani Liddy and Tom Powell have received plenty of attention for their onball dominance. The Bulldogs earned their first points of the season after defeating the Tigers last weekend. Ruckman and tall forward Saxon Evans turned some heads with a terrific performance, headlined by four goals and 32 hitouts.

 

Norwood vs. Glenelg

League:

Norwood will be seeking revenge after the Tigers beat them by three points in the opening round. With the ‘Legs and Bays possessing two of the most talented lists in the league, this Saturday night clash should be closely fought.

Norwood found themselves in a spot of bother early on in the year, recording three losses to start the season. However they have dug themselves out of the hole beautifully and have appeared to be back to their best in recent weeks. The Redlegs have relied heavily upon their star-studded midfield hitting the scoreboard, but coach Jarrod Cotton will have been impressed by the efforts of tall forward Tommy Pinyon and speedster Anthony Wilson, who both booted two goals in the win over South Adelaide. Pinyon has been particularly impressive across the past month of action, having booted 12 goals in four games. However Glenelg boasts the most dominant key forward in the competition in Liam McBean. An aerial master, McBean was inaccurate in front of goal against the Bulldogs, booting four goals and four behinds, but is well-placed to defend his Ken Farmer medal as the league’s leading goal kicker. His partner in crime Luke Reynolds is also a star in his own right, but was held goalless on Saturday for the first time since round 17 of 2018, though small forward Darcy Bailey bobbed up to kick three.

Redlegs ball-magnet Matthew Nunn missed three matches (rounds three through five) earlier this season and his value to the Norwood midfield cannot be understated. A hard-nosed onballer, Nunn is a strong tackler and clearance specialist who compliments the likes of Richard Douglas, Matthew Panos and Mitch Grigg. He could go head-to-head with perhaps the best in-and-under midfielder in the competition in Glenelg’s Matthew Snook. A genuine warrior in the Tigers midfield, Snook and teammates Luke Partington and Bradley Agnew have accumulated plenty of the ball throughout the season to-date. The Norwood midfield has received plenty of credit for its brilliance, but the Tigers array of working class on-ballers will be up for a fight. They will, however, need ruckman Jack Hannath to nullify the impact of Norwood’s Sam Baulderstone both at the contest and around the ground. The big man has been in tremendous form and is up there with the leagues best players when on song.

The Tigers have proven time and time again that they are willing to play their youth, with potential Crows father-son Luke Edwards the latest to make his league debut. Luke Parks has been outstanding down back since breaking into the senior side against the Redlegs in round one. He took three contested grabs on debut and currently sits equal-third with von Bertouch for total contested marks – an impressive feat for such a young player. Unfortunately, Edwards suffered some concussion and could miss the clash with Norwood. The Redlegs themselves are likely to be without skilful utility Lewis Johnston (quad) and former-Western Bulldog Declan Hamilton (ankle).

Reserves:

At Reserves level, the Tigers find themselves in fourth spot in the ladder, ahead of Norwood in seventh. Glenelg started the season well but have struggled in the past few weeks, recording three losses in a row. A Redlegs win could spark them into life and trigger a finals push in the second half of the season.

Under-18s:

Norwood’s under-18s have been very impressive so far in 2020, with their terrific midfield leading the way. Bottom-ager Cooper Murley continues to show why he is a likely early pick in next years draft, while fellow midfielders Michael Cavallaro and Jack Saunders, key forward Finn Heard and intercept-defender Daniel Fairbrother have also impressed. The Bays have been without a number of their stars due to school football commitments, but Harry McInnes‘ five goals ignited his side.

SANFL Round 7 Preview: Huge round set to separate top from bottom

ROUND 7 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) is set to be an interesting one, with some tight matchups and plenty of critical injury outs this round. North Adelaide will hope to continue its winning ways against an improved Norwood outfit at League level, with the Panthers in danger of losing their top three position if the Redlegs can run away with a fourth win on the trot, while ladder leaders Woodville-West Torrens Under-18s will hope for another straight win.

Woodville-West Torrens vs. West Adelaide

League: The Eagles and Bloods will meet at Maughan Oval Avenue on Saturday afternoon in a battle for western suburbs bragging rights. However the two sides find themselves in drastically different situations following six rounds of action. The Eagles continue to set the pace at the top of the SANFL Statewide Super League Ladder after knocking off the Bulldogs on home soil. Meanwhile, West Adelaide suffered a heavy loss at the hands of a rapidly-improving Redlegs side.

The Bloods were competitive early against the Redlegs, booting two of the first three goals. But it was all one-way traffic from then on, with Norwood running out victors by 67 points. West Adelaide were comprehensively beaten in almost all major statistics but most alarming was their inability to get their hands on the footy in the midfield. With Andre Parrella sidelined, 18-year-old Riley Thilthorpe was given the daunting task of competing against Norwood’s Sam Baulderstone. He fought hard and showed some promising signs but the Bloods midfield lost the clearances 41-15 and inside 50s 58-41. No team could expect to be competitive when being dominated in such a lopsided fashion. However it was a different story for the Eagles, whose workmanlike midfield proved far too strong for an inexperienced Bulldogs lineup. They won the clearances 44-24 and inside 50s 48-41 and controlled the match from the get-go. The Bloods used the ball well when they managed to get their hands on it, kicking at 83 per cent efficiency, but struggled without the presence of three of their most important players in lead ruckman Parrella (calf), promising backman Elliott Dunkin (wrist) and key defender Josh Ryan (shoulder). Even though the Eagles controlled much of the play, they laid more tackles than the Bulldogs – a testament to the hard-working, in-and-under nature of their settled side.

Perhaps most encouraging for Woodville-West Torrens coach Jade Sheedy is that his side ground out the win without much influence from damaging small forward James Rowe, who was restricted to just one third quarter goal from six disposals. Defender turned forward Jake Von Bertouch stood up and added three more goals to his impressive season tally, while Jack Hayes controlled the airways in a best on ground performance which included 28 disposals, two goals, 14 marks (four of which were contested) and seven inside50s. Hayes is the leading contested marker in the competition and Von Bertouch sits in a close second. Although the Eagles boast a threatening forward line, the Bloods possess a handy one-two punch of their own with skipper Tom Keough combining in attack with Thilthorpe. The usual suspects fought hard for the Bloods despite the unpleasant result, with Kaine Stevens and Jordon Boyle typically prolific. The midfield duo have been excellent for West Adelaide and will again be relied upon to carry much of the on-ball unit against the likes Jordan Foote, Angus Poole, Joseph Sinor and Jimmy Toumpas. The Eagles ruck combination of Jack Hayes and Jarrad Redden has been extremely effective so far this season, with both players providing good use to the midfielders at their feet while also winning several clearances themselves. While on the topic of clearances, this match features a number of strong stoppage specialists, including Blood Brett Turner and Eagle ‘Joey’ Sinor, who thrived off Redden’s tap-work to accumulate 13 clearances against the ‘Dogs.

Unfortunately for West Adelaide coach Gavin Colville, Parrella (1-2 weeks), Dunkin (3-4 weeks), Ryan (3-4 weeks) and Josh Schiller (4-6 weeks) will all miss several weeks through injury. The Eagles reported no new injuries from last weekend. One of the Bloods two wins in 2019 came against the Eagles in round four. They were victorious by 37 points that day but went down by 60 points when the two clubs faced off in Round 10. Needless to say, the Eagles will come into this clash brimming with confidence, having yet to drop points since their round one loss to the Panthers. Despite starting as underdogs, the Bloods will be hoping to improve on their disappointing round six showing.

Reserves: The form of the Bloods and Eagles reserves sides has been similar to that of their league counterparts in 2020. The Eagles reserves sit at the top of the ladder and remain the only undefeated side across all three tiers of SANFL football after six weeks of action, following a heart-stopping one-point win over the Bulldogs last weekend. West Adelaide sit in seventh place after recording their fifth consecutive loss of the campaign against Norwood.

Under-18s: The Eagles and Bloods under-18s sides both currently sit outside of the top four but, however this clash will still feature a number of talented juniors. West Adelaide ball-magnet Bailey Chamberlain was again terrific in the Bloods engine room despite the loss to Norwood on Saturday evening, while fellow AFL Academy Hub members Caleb Poulter and Henry Smith were amongst the Eagles best in their win over Central Districts.

 

Central Districts vs. Glenelg

League: Glenelg will travel north to face the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. The reigning premiers returned to their winning ways with an 18-point victory over Sturt at Brighton Road on Saturday, after loosing their previous three matches. In contrast, Central Districts’ winless woes continued with a 30-point loss to the ladder leading Eagles.

The Bulldogs failed to score in the first quarter at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. And despite mounting a four goal to one second term comeback, the damage had already been done. Whereas the Tigers were able to keep the Double Blues goalless in the opening quarter and capitalise upon a strong defensive start by taking a 21-point lead into the first break. The Bulldogs were comprehensively beaten by the Eagles in almost all the major statistical areas. Although they were able to generate some run across half-back at times, Centrals were unable to get their hands on the ball through the middle and failed to apply any significant scoreboard pressure. Interestingly, the Tigers midfield lost the hit-outs, clearances and inside-50s but won the possession battle and, unlike the Double Blues, made the most of their shots on goal, which proved to be the defining factor in the Sunday afternoon clash. To their credit, the Bulldogs have fought hard throughout the year but appear to lack the star quality possessed by their rivals, particularly through the middle of the ground. Glenelg, in comparison, boast class on nearly every line, headlined by league leading goal-kicker Liam McBean and tough in-and-under onballers Matthew Snook and Bradley Agnew.

James Boyd leads all comers in terms of disposals and has played somewhat of a lone hand in the engine room throughout the year. Despite Boyd’s ability to accumulate disposals at will, he needs more support from Travis and Jarrod Schiller if the Bulldogs are to match it with the Tigers in the contested ball. The aforementioned duo of Snook and Agnew have been ultra consistent throughout the opening six rounds, winning an abundance of clearances and applying plenty of tackling pressure. Both sit inside the top ten in the league for these categories. Up forward, the potent combination of McBean and Luke Reynolds have combined for 33 goals between them in just six matches. The Dogs backline struggled to nullify Eagles talls Jack Hayes and Jake Von Bertouch and will again face an uphill battle to restrict the aerial dominance of the Tigers duo. It has been a tough year so far, but despite their struggles, coach Jeff Andrews will urge his chargers to focus open the positives. Troy Menzel has shown flashes of his obvious talent and booted two goals last round. Small forward Lachlan Grubb recently joined fellow teenagers Corey Durdin and Jordan O’Brien in the senior side and all three have looked comfortable at the level. The coaching staff have also shown plenty of faith in young ruckman Brody Thompson, who managed 21 hit-outs against veteran Jarrad Redden, while the return of Justin Hoskin has provided the inexperienced Dogs with some much needed leadership. Rhett Montgomerie is already amongst the leagues best contested markers in just his

Glenelg reported no new injuries from their league clash, however the Bulldogs will be hopeful of regaining former skipper Trent Goodrem and key position duo John Butcher and Ryan Falkenberg, all of whom have been listed as a test. The Bays defeated the Bulldogs twice on their way to the flag last season and will be expected to take the two points in this clash. However a youthful Central Districts side will be hoping a first win of 2020 is just around the corner.

Reserves: The Bulldogs league side suffered their first loss of the season last weekend but remain well on track to qualifying for a finals berth. Although the Tigers have suffered back-to-back losses, this clash could have several repercussions come finals time.

Under-18s: The Tigers under-18s have struggled after loosing several of their best players due to the return of the school football competition. However the work of midfielder Hagan Wright hasn’t gone unnoticed. Central Districts have also been affected, with Prince Alfred College midfielder Lewis Cowham missing from the side for the past two weeks. Fellow on-baller Shay Linke has stepped up his absence, alongside Austin McDonald. The athletic Leek Alleer is another one to watch in the red, white and blue.

 

North Adelaide vs. Sturt

League: North Adelaide will look to consolidate their position in the top four when they host Sturt at their Prospect Oval home. After three consecutive defeats, the Double Blues sit sixth on the ladder and must start stringing some wins together if they are to push for a finals spot.

The Roosters midfield was significantly bolstered during a busy off-season with the signings of Billy HartungAndrew Moore and Cam Hewett. Although Hartung and Hewett have spent some time on the sidelines, when up and running they are amongst the best on-ballers in the competition. The Roosters recorded less disposals and marks than the Panthers, but it was the engine room which really helped the red and white get on top. They finished plus-28 in tackles, plus-5 in the hit-outs, narrowly won the clearance battle and concluded the game up plus-12 for inside-50s. Led by skipper James Battersby, Sturt’s on-ball quality is well-known by SANFL watchers, particularly given the clubs success in recent years. Although perhaps down on their output of seasons gone by, the Double Blues midfield remains capable of matching it with the best. Despite losing the key disposal statistics, they won the hit-outs, clearances and inside-50s against Glenelg but failed to capitalise on the scoreboard, booting eight goals and 16 behinds at ACH Group Stadium. In fairness, seven of these behinds were rushed. The result, an 18-point loss, could well have gone Sturt’s way if they converted their multitude of opportunities in front of goal.

Has anyone taken bigger strides in season 2020 than Roosters hard-nut Campbell Combe? The inside midfielder laid another 16 tackles in round six, nine more than co-captains Moore and Tom Schwarz, who laid seven apiece. Combe averaged 20 disposals, five clearances and 5.7 tackles in 18 games last season, but is travelling at 22 touches, almost seven clearances and a league-leading 11.3 tackles in his six games so far in 2020. After cementing his spot last year, Combe has now become one of the league’s best in-and-under midfielders and complements the Roosters outside types such as Robbie Young and Jarrad Allmond. The Double Blues recruited Abe Davis in the hope he could play a similar role as a big-bodied midfielder and he took some positive steps last round, racking up 26 touches and six clearances. The aforementioned Battersby and prolific Sam Colquhoun are both terrific stoppage players and will make for an interesting on-ball battle. Roosters half-back Harrison Wigg has been providing excellent drive from defence with his damaging left-foot, but Sturt’s Sam Wundke still sits at the top of the league when it comes to rebound-50s. It will be a battle between youth and experience when Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks meets Rooster James Craig in the ruck. Although Craig may out-duel him in the contest, expect Fahey-Sparks to work hard around the ground. He is averaging five more disposals than Craig and booted two goals in the loss to the Tigers. In attack, Lewis Hender has been terrific for North, booting 15 goals. Small forward Kym LeBois has contributed eleven of his own and the tall duo of Mitch Harvey and Keenan Ramsey have booted a combined 13. Sturt has kicked the least amount of points of any side in 2020, and will be expected to rely upon their midfielders to push forward and impact the scoreboard.

The Double Blues will be without Tom Lewis and Ash Johnson who sustained ankle injuries in the reserves, while Rory Illman will also spend some time in the recovery room, nursing a hamstring complaint. North still boasts a lengthy injury list but will be hoping Elliott Chalmers can recover from his hip concern. Sturt took care of the Roosters in both encounters last season but both clubs will field significantly different sides this time around.

Reserves: Sturt are flying at reserves level and have won four on the trot after knocking off the Bays away from home last weekend. The Roosters kept themselves in the hunt with an important win over the Panthers but still sit two wins and percentage behind fourth place.

Under-18s: Sturt’s under-18s were outstanding against the Tigers on Sunday evening and will enter the clash with North Adelaide as favourites. Tom Powell has been the league’s best performed player to-date and forms one-third of Sturt’s terrific midfield trio, along with Mani Liddy and Will Spain. North were beaten by the Panthers at Noarlunga in round six, but keep an eye on Shaun Bennier after he booted four goals.

 

Norwood vs. South Adelaide

League: The Panthers will head east to take on Norwood at the Parade in the match of the round. South Adelaide have made a consistent start to the season and remain on track in their quest to win the club its first flag since 1964. Things weren’t so convincing early on for the Redlegs, who suffered two close losses in the opening fortnight and were soundly beaten by the Eagles at Woodville. However since then, Norwood have charged into the top four and look more like the well-balanced outfit we’ve come to expect.

The Redlegs made light work of the Bloods at Hisense Arena and it all started in the middle. The ‘Legs boast arguably the best midfield unit in the competition so it was no surprise to see them dominate the hitouts, clearances and inside-50s. Their ability to win the contested ball allowed them to control much of the game and finish with a remarkable 107 more disposals than their opponents. Jarrad Cotton‘s men were also clean both in general play and in front of goal, finishing with 83 per cent kicking efficiency and 66 per cent scoring efficiency, and took 163 marks to West’s 115. The Panthers, on the other hand, took a lead into quarter time and outscored the Roosters in a tense final term, but were ultimately downed in a hard-fought encounter at Prospect Oval. South won the disposals battle and finished plus-17 for marks, but the Roosters midfield proved too good in the end. The midfield battle will once again play a major role in deciding Sunday afternoon’s clash.

The defensive duo of Joseph Haines and Tom Highmore have been the glue of the South Adelaide side in 2020. Both marking machines, they also accumulate plenty of the football whilst providing rebound from the defensive 50. The 27-year-old Haines is averaging 8.5 marks and 22 disposals at 94 per cent kicking efficiency, whilst Canberra product Highmore is averaging 9.3 marks to go with 22 touches at 81 per cent. Their ability to win the ball in the air but then distribute it cleanly has been instrumental to South’s early success. However Norwood key forward Tommy Pinyon will enter the clash in good form, having clunked a couple of contested grabs and nailed three goals last weekend. Joel Cross, Matthew Broadbent and Ben Heaslip have been excellent in the Panthers engine room, while 20-year-old Hayden Sampson and draft hopeful Zac Dumesny have both made successful contributions in their respective roles at league level. However the Redlegs onball unit is as formidable as they come. The likes of Matt PanosRichard Douglas and Mitch Grigg are all dominant ball-winners but, more importantly, hit the scoreboard on a consistent basis. The trio combined for no less than nine goals against the Bloods and simply must be denied opportunities in front of goal. They are all expected to feature prominently come Magarey Medal night too. The clean-kicking Lewis Johnston is a weapon wherever deployed and Matthew Nunn slotted back into the side seamlessly, accumulating 33 disposals and six clearances. Add former-Kangaroo and Lion Ryan Bastinac into the mix and you have yourself a seriously threatening midfield which has just started to click in recent weeks. Of course, it helps when Sam Baulderstone provides you with first-use in the middle then acts as another midfielder with his clearance-winning capacity and work rate around the ground. He will pose a challenge for Panthers ruckman Cameron McGree, however the 21-year-old is improving each game. South Adelaide teenager Beau McCreery has impressed up forward and is leading the clubs goal-kicking so far, having booted ten majors in six games.

Panthers speedster Malcolm Karpany will spend another stint on the sidelines after injuring his calf, but South will be hoping dynamic forward Liam Fitt is indeed declared fit after sustaining a shoulder injury. The Redlegs reported no new injuries but several senior players remain sidelined. Norwood got the better of the Panthers on both occasions last season, but South Adelaide appear to be an improved outfit in 2020 and will be looking to get themselves back onto the winners list immediately.

Reserves: The Panthers and Redlegs reserves sides achieved their first victories of 2020 over the past fortnight but face an uphill battle to qualify for the finals, given the six-point (three-win) gap between themselves and the fourth-placed Bays. Regardless, one club will be feeling more confident of grabbing a place after this match-up.

Under-18s: Given the form of Norwood and South Adelaide’s under-18 sides, this clash should be entertaining. But it shapes as being all about the 17-year-olds. Panthers bottom-ager Jason Horne has taken the competition by storm in 2020 and appears destined to be an early selection in next years draft. He has led the Panthers to a four and two start to the season and could go head-to-head in the midfield with fellow bottom-ager Cooper Murley, who has also been ultra impressive in his own right. Keep an eye on these two going forward as they prepare to lead South Australia’s 2021 draft crop.

SANFL Round Six Preview

ROUND 6 of the South Australia National Football League (SANFL) is set to be a big one, with a couple of huge match-ups. Three League teams still sit at the top of the ladder on just the one loss apiece, with North Adelaide and South Adelaide set to do their bet to knock the other off their perch this round when they go head to head.

Woodville-West Torrens VS Central Districts

League: Central Districts will attempt to secure a major upset when they travel to Maughan Thiem Kia Oval to face the high-flying Eagles on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles are yet to drop any points since their round one defeat to South Adelaide, recording comfortable wins over North and Glenelg in recent weeks. However it has been a different story for the Bulldogs, who have fought valiantly but ultimately remain winless, with a draw against the Bloods their only points of the season.

Woodville-West Torrens went into the clash with Glenelg without skipper Luke Thompson and veteran onballer Matthew Goldsworthy, but it didn’t worry Jade Sheedy‘s men, who lead for most of the day down at the Bay, recording a 20-point win to remain on top of the ladder. The Eagles lost the possession battle and recorded less marks and handballs than the reigning premiers, however they managed to get on top in the middle, largely thanks to the domination of ruckman Jarrad Redden. The Bulldogs have had their issues in the ruck, with young Berri bigman Brody Thompson given the responsibility of leading the ruck division for the past fortnight. The Central Districts midfield has struggled so far in season 2020, with James Boyd playing a lone-hand at times. The former Eagle has been finding the ball with ease since returning to Elizabeth and currently leads the league for disposals, recording 21-more than second-placed Tiger Matthew Snook. Importantly, Boyd has also been using it effectively, travelling at 89 per cent efficiency. In contrast, the Eagles midfield has been very strong, led by Jordan FooteJimmy Toumpas and Joseph Sinor. The Bulldogs, who lost the clearances 26-29 against North, will require strong showings from the Schiller brothers, Jarrod and Travis, in support of Boyd if they are to match it with the Eagles onballers.

As they have for much of the season, the Bulldogs battled hard early on against North, taking leads into the quarter time and half-time breaks. However the Roosters class shone through in the second half. Central Districts worked hard around the ground, taking 112 marks to North’s 73, but teenagers Corey Durdin and Jordan O’Brien were the only multiple goal kickers for the ‘Dogs, who struggled up forward without the lead up presence of John Butcher. Since bursting onto the scene with six goals in his first three games of league football, Nick Lange is yet to hit the scoreboard and must step up for Jeff Andrews‘ side. In contrast, the Eagles have been extremely potent in attack, with small forward James Rowe seemingly unstoppable. Rowe, the league’s leading goal kicker, has booted at least three goals in all five matches so far. He has been deadly accurate in front of the sticks too, nailing 17 majors and just four behinds. Jake Von Bertouch has relished the move forward and has ten goals to his name, while the aerial prowess of the Hayes brothers will concern the Bulldogs talls. Both are averaging 5.2 marks per game and have each kicked seven goals in 2020, with Jack also providing serviceable relief for Redden in the ruck. Down back, Centrals duo Trent Goodrem and Luke Habel have been largely composed despite facing a barrage of opposition inside 50s. For the Eagles, Tasmanian recruit Ryan Mansell has impressed with his run and carry from defence.

Woodville-West Torrens are averaging the most points for per game (86) and lowest points against (57) and will start as the clear favourites against the Bulldogs. However the sides split their two meetings last season, with the Eagles winning by 29 points in round nine but Central Districts taking out the round 14 clash by 23 points. The Bulldogs could be without Goodrem and Kyle Jenner after they sustained groin and knee injuries respectively, while Eagles midfielder Jesse Lonergan has been listed as available after overcoming an adductor complaint.

Reserves: Whilst the league clash is tipped to be a one-sided affair, the reserves battle is shaping as a nail-biter, with both sides undefeated through five matches. The Bulldogs have been very strong in the second tier competition and defeated the Roosters by 20 points last week, while the Eagles easily accounted for Glenelg, recording a 43-point win.

Under-18s: The Eagles sent a stern warning to the under-18 competition when the beat a previously undefeated Glenelg side by 71 points on Saturday. Although the Bays were missing a number of their best players, talented Eagles trio Caleb PoulterJase Burgoyne and Taj Schofield dominated proceedings. In the absence of prolific onballer Lewis Cowham, the Bulldogs were strong early against the Roosters but ultimately fell well short. Shay Linke and Austin McDonald are names to watch through the middle, while the athletic Leek Alleer also continues to improve and can be utilised in a variety of roles.

 

West Adelaide VS Norwood

League: Norwood will make the trip across town to face the Bloods at Hisense Stadium in the traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot. The Redlegs have been far from convincing but are beginning to get their mojo back after recording back-to-back wins over Central Districts and Sturt. West, who slumped to their third loss of the season at the weekend, will return to the friendly confines of their Richmond-based home for just the second time in season 2020.

The Bloods booted four goals to zero in the final quarter at Noarlunga, but the damage had already been done. However their was plenty of upside for coach Gavin Colville. The Bloods recorded more disposals, kicks, handballs and marks than the Panthers and were also more efficient with ball in hand, recording an 80 disposal efficiency to South’s 71 per cent. Andre Parrella provided first-use for the Bloods onball brigade, but they failed to make the most of the advantage, loosing the clearances (38-36) and inside-50s (49-30). Norwood trailed for most of the day away from home against Sturt, who jumped out of the blocks, kicking seven first term goals to three. However the Redlegs dominated much of the second half, off the back of strong performances from some of their big names. Jarrod Cotton‘s kick-mark gameplan proved effective, with Norwood recording 105 marks to Sturt’s 57. The ruck duel between Parrella and Norwood’s Sam Baulderstone will be critical. Baulderstone has been the best ruckman in the competition for a number of years now and dominated Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks on Sunday afternoon, with Norwood winning 63 hitouts to Sturt’s 23. Baulderstone is averaging 18 disposals, 40 hitouts and 7 clearances per game and his work both in the ruck and around the ground has been enormous. Parrella has played one less game but been a colossus in the ruck, averaging 44 taps but just 6.5 disposals. He will need to increase his work around the ground to nullify the influence of the Redlegs big man, but may have an edge at stoppages.

So far in 2020, West Adelaide will have been impressed by the efforts of recruit Jordon Boyle, who leads the club for disposals (averaging 24.8 disposals at 88 per cent efficiency) and has complimented the likes of Brett Turner and tough veteran Kaine Stevens. Tall forward/ruckman Riley Thilthorpe continues to show glimpses of his prodigious talent, while medium defender Elliott Dunkin and former Double Blue Ed Allen have also been solid. Filling his customary midfield/forward role, Norwood’s Richard Douglas has been excellent since joining the SANFL competition from the Crows. The old firm of Matthew PanosMitch Grigg and Lewis Johnston were all good in the win over Sturt and will be relied upon to help continue the Redlegs 2020 resurrection. The forward-line partnership of Tommy Pinyon and Peter Bampton has also started to get rolling in the past two rounds. Norwood will enter this clash as favourites, but West will be keen to reward their loyal fans with a second Hisense Stadium win. The ‘Legs won both matchups last season, but the gap between the two clubs appears to have closed in season 2020, such is the evenness of the SANFL competition. West’s Logan Hill (calf) and Josh Ryan (shoulder) are likely to miss the clash, while Norwood will be chomping at the bit to regain young gun Matthew Nunn, who has been listed as available after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Reserves: Norwood’s reserves woes continued on the weekend after a 46-point loss to Sturt. The Redlegs remain winless, despite having won the reserves flag last season. West Adelaide were also comfortably defeated by the Panthers and sit just one spot above Norwood. This might not be the prettiest game of football, but it is, however, poised to be a close one.

Under-18s: Things look more positive for the Redlegs under-18s, who knocked off the previously undefeated Double Blues at Peter Motley Oval on Saturday afternoon. Midfielders Cooper Murley, Michael Cavallaro and Jack Saunders have been amongst the leagues best onballers so far this season and all sit in the top ten for disposals. It has been tough going for the winless Bloods, but midfielder Bailey Chamberlain has been very impressive, accumulating plenty of the pill across the midfield.

 

North Adelaide VS South Adelaide

League: North will meet South at Prospect Oval on Saturday afternoon, with both sides eager to extend their winning ways. The Roosters and Panthers sit at the top of the SANFL Statewide Super League ladder alongside Woodville-West Torrens, with the clubs recording four wins and one loss in their opening five matches.

After the Eagles ended North Adelaide’s winning start to the season in round four, the Roosters bounced back with a victory over Central Districts at Elizabeth. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The Roosters were outplayed in the first half by the Bulldogs but responded to a Jacob Surjan spray at the main break and came out with fire in the belly. It was quite the opposite for South Adelaide, who dominated the first half but were held goalless in the fourth quarter. Both sides found less of the ball than their respective opponents on the weekend, however the Roosters strong tackling has been a real feature this season, finishing the clash with the ‘Dogs up plus-8 in this regard. Inside midfielder Campbell Combe laid nine of them on his own and currently leads the league for tackles. Tom Schwarz stole the show in the midfield for the red and whites, accumulating the ball at will and booting two goals. It has been no surprise to see Joel Cross lead the South Adelaide midfield, alongside Matthew Broadbent, with both able to find the ball with ease and impact at the stoppages. Expect Rooster James Craig to look to capitalise on his experience advantage over South’s Cameron McGree and provide first use to his midfielders. Roosters forwards Mitch Harvey (4) and Keenan Ramsey (3) booted seven goals between them at Elizabeth but will face more difficult opposition this week. South Adelaide’s intercept king Joseph Haines has been terrific this season, while recruit Tom Highmore leads the league for marks, having hauled in 11 against the Bloods, four of which were contested. Haines has accumulated the most kicks of anyone so far and is trusted with setting up much of the Panthers rebound. The Roosters must be cautious with their delivery inside-50, with Highmore and Haines looming large across the backline.

Luckily for the Roosters, they posses a potent small forward brigade and are capable of kicking a winning score without neccessarily requiring heavy scoreboard impact from Ramsey or Harvey. Kym LeBois has been particularly exciting for North and the enigmatic Lewis Hender is certainly capable of tearing open a game. Smalls Eamon Wilkinson and Beau McCreery lead the Panthers goal-kicking, with both booting eight major so far in 2020. Liam Fitt and Hayden Sampson are also regular scorers, while Alex Cailotto and Sam Overall provide the height in attack. Draft hopeful Zac Dumesny has also hit the scoreboard in recent weeks and continues to rise up the power rankings following a smooth start to his senior football career.

The Panthers won both games against the Roosters last season, however the 2020 version of North Adelaide has proven to be significantly stronger than the side which finished ninth. The Roosters injury list continues to expand, with small defender Mitch Clisby expected to be sidelined for up to one month with a hamstring issues. However the club could regain teenage defender Karl Finlay, speedster Robbie Young and inside midfielder Cameron Hewett, who have all been listed as a test. South Adelaide reported a clean bill of health from their round five match. With both sides appearing likely to finish in a finals spot, this clash could prove vital come the pointy end of the season.

Reserves: Although the Panthers and Roosters have been successful at league level, their reserves sides have managed just one win apiece. South lifted themselves off the bottom with a win over the Bloods last round, but North slumped to its third loss in as many weeks, unable to knock off the undefeated ‘Dogs.

Under-18s: The Panthers under-18s will get an opportunity to string together their first consecutive wins this season when they host North Adelaide at Flinders University Stadium. Bottom-aged Panther Jason Horne is already attracting plenty of attention in South Australia and looms as a likely top selection in next years draft, with the Roosters no doubt mindful of his stoppage nous, goal kicking abilities and overhead marking potential. The red and whites will, however, enter this contest with confidence, having recorded a comprehensive victory over Centrals on Saturday.

 

Glenelg VS Sturt

League: The Tigers and Double Blues were both finalists last season but already find themselves two wins behind the ladder leaders in season 2020. The Bays won two close encounters in the first fortnight of action, but have since failed to find the scintillating from which saw them win it all last season. It’s been a similar story for Sturt, who won two of their opening three matches but have since recorded losses to Norwood and South Adelaide. This clash provides both sides with the opportunity to seperate themselves from the cluster of sides congregated in the middle of the table.

Sturt dominated the first half against the Redlegs on Sunday afternoon but were outclassed after the main break and ultimately went down by 15-points. The Double Blues lost several key statistical indicators against Norwood, but accumulated 20 more handballs than the ‘Legs. Perhaps a more direct, kick-first approach would have led to increased efficiency going forward. However there were still some encouraging signs. Despite being smashed in the ruck contests (28 hit-outs to 63) by Sam Baulderstone, the Sturt midfield finished plus-4 in clearances and broke even for inside-50s. Further positives included the increased output from forwards Jake Sutcliffe and Abe Davis, who kicked three and two goals respectively. The latter also spent some time in the ruck, such is his handy size and versatility. The Tigers, on the other hand, mounted a late comeback but were unable to match it with the in form Eagles, who lead for almost all of the day. Similar to Sturt, the Bays won the clearances and inside 50s despite being comprehensively beaten in the hitouts. The number one problem facing Sturt coach Nathan Grima is stopping Glenelg key forward Liam McBean. He booted five goals in the loss to Woodville-West Torrens and is undoubtedly the leagues most dangerous big man. But they can’t put all their eggs in the McBean basket, with Luke Reynolds also possessing match-winning capabilities as a high x-factor medium-tall.

The midfield battle is one which appears likely to have a heavy influence on the outcome of this clash. Sturt skipper James Battersby has been excellent all season and he will again be required to lead by example against a tough Glenelg midfield. Sam Colquhoun and Zane Kirkwood must also lift their output if Sturt are to match it with the yellow and black. Although very different in their playing styles, Andrew Bradley and Matthew Snook are amongst the most prolific ball winners in the competition and Luke Partington is always a threat in and around the stoppages and also up forward.

The clubs split their two meetings last year, but both were close contests. Glenelg won by nine points in round four but the Double Blues hit back later in the year, notching up a 12-point victory in the final round of the home and away season. Young Sturt ruckman Lachlan Burrows is expected to miss three weeks with a groin injury, while Glenelg’s Matthew Merrett is also set to miss some time with an ankle complaint.

Reserves: Sturt and Glenelg have been strong at reserves level this season. The Double Blues sit inside the top four having won their past three matches, including a 46-point triumph over their red-legged, eastern suburbs rivals last round. The Bays were undefeated prior to their round five clash, but were downed by an Eagles side brimming with confidence following strong starts across all three grades.

Under-18s: The league and reserves match-ups should be closely fought battles and its no different at under-18s level. Both sides suffered their first losses of the season last weekend and will be eager to bounce back. Sturt midfielder Tom Powell has been the competitions best performed player to date and is certainly one to watch. The Bays will be looking to regain a handful of their top players, after they missed the round five clash with the Eagles.

SANFL weekly wrap: Round 4 – Eagles down Roosters to swoop on top spot

A NEW front-runner has emerged in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL), with Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) jumping West Adelaide on Saturday to claim top spot in the League standings. The Eagles and Roosters are joined by South Adelaide as the three teams tied for first at 3-1, with the Panthers claiming their second win on the trot. A three-way arm-wrestle between undefeated sides remains at the Reserves grade, while the Glenelg and Sturt Under 18s are also poised nicely at 4-0 apiece.

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North Adelaide vs. WWT Eagles

League – North Adelaide 7.12 (54) def. by WWT Eagles 10.9 (69)
Reserves – North Adelaide 7.7 (49) def. by WWT Eagles 10.6 (66)
Under 18s – WWT Eagles 9.13 (67) def. North Adelaide 8.10 (58)

WWT Eagles enjoyed a fruitful weekend across all grades, completing a three-peat over North Adelaide and crucially, claiming top spot on the League ladder. The Eagles also picked up their first win at Under 18s level to sit just outside the finals placings, while the Reserves are moving along nicely at 4-0 in second place.

The 15-point margin come the end of their League clash may have been the only break WWT led at for the entire contest, but it would have mattered little to supporters as their side finished strongly to secure victory. Small forward James Rowe dealt most of the scoreboard damage with four goals, including two in the all-important final term to prove the difference between the two sides. Lewis Hender snagged three goals for North Adelaide up the other end.

Jordan Foote and Jimmy Toumpas were mega through the middle for WWT, both collecting 34 disposals with the latter also bagging two majors. Youngsters Jacob Wehr (18 disposals, seven rebound 50s), Lachlan Jones (17 disposals, six marks), and Lachlan McNeil (17 disposals, one goal) also continue to thrive. Andrew Moore was the leading inside presence for the Roosters, amassing 33 disposals and nine clearances. Meanwhile, Harrison Wigg (29 disposals, six marks) and Jarred Allmond (25 and 12) covered the ground well.

The Eagles and Roosters are now level at 1-3 in the Under 18s competition, thanks to an even team performance from the latter to edge home on Saturday afternoon. Potential 2021 Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne was sensational in an altered role, collecting 31 disposals and booting a goal for the victors. Harrison Dawkins (25 disposals, two goals) continued his consistent start to the season, while Caleb Poulter looked dangerous for his 18 touches, and skipper Zac Phillips fared well in the ruck with 31 hitouts. The returning Henry Smith could only manage three behinds.

For North, Kallis Freer (29 disposals) and Jamison Murphy (28) continue to win a heap of ball, combining for 11 clearances and 10 inside 50s. 16-year-old William Dowling impressed with four majors from 17 touches, while Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect Tariek Newchurch was kept goalless in his 15-disposal outing.

West Adelaide vs. Glenelg

League – West Adelaide 10.4 (64) def. Glenelg 7.6 (48)
Reserves – West Adelaide 5.8 (38) def. by Glenelg 9.8 (62)
Under 18s – Glenelg 18.24 (132) def. West Adelaide 3.5 (23)

Tom Keough booted half of Westies’ 10 goals as the Bloods downed reigning League premier, Glenelg on home turf. A four-goal to nil third term set up the hosts’ opening win for the season, as the Tigers managed little in the way of a response thereafter.

The Bloods are now just a point off Glenelg and the finals placings in the top flight, with the Tigers starting to falter in their flag defence. Bays fans would have been buoyed by results across the other grades though, as their side romped to an 109-point triumph in the Under 18s, and a four-goal salute at Reserves level.

Jordon Boyle led all comers on Saturday with 30 disposals, headlined by six clearances. Andrew Bradley earned that title for Glenelg having notched 27 touches, while Chris Curran (25 disposals, 13 marks) and Matthew Snook (24 dispsoals, eight tackles, 10 clearances) worked tirelessly in the losing effort. Magarey Medalist Luke Partington had 23 disposals, and Luke Reynolds snagged three goals.

Keough was remarkably his side’s sole multiple goalkicker, while five other individuals also found the big sticks once each. Gun midfielder Kaine Stevens notched another 24 touches in a well-rounded performance, with the likes of Brett Turner and Patrick Fairlie also playing solid roles in the Bloods’ win.

While Luke Edwards got his chance at Reserves level, the Tigers showcased their depth with a big win over West Adelaide’s Under 18s. Hugh Stagg had a day out with 28 disposals and 3.5 to lead a pack of six Glenelg multiple goalkickers, while Hagan Wright collected 29 touches to lead the ball winning stakes. Riley Holder (26 disposals, two goals), Luke Pedlar (24 and two), and Lewis Rayson (24 and two) were among the many others to impress.

Despite being beaten soundly in each part of the ground, the likes of Eduard van den Berg (24 disposals, eight marks), State Under 18s jet Bailey Chamberlain (22 disposals, four tackles), and Thomas Rundle (16 disposals, five marks, one goal) stood up.

Norwood vs. Central District

League – Norwood 15.14 (104) def. Central District 12.14 (86)
Reserves – Norwood 5.5 (35) def. by Central District 17.21 (123)
Under 18s – Central District 5.6 (36) def. by Norwood 12.8 (80)

Norwood snatched an early lead and never looked back in its maiden League win for the season, downing Central District by an even three goals at Coopers Stadium. Both remain the bottom two sides in the top flight, but the Redlegs now have separation from the winless Bulldogs and are just a game off fourth place.

Changes may be in the works for Round 5 after Centrals cruised to an 88-point Reserves victory to sit pretty atop the ladder at 4-0, but the glory ends there for the ‘Dogs with their Under 18 side languishing at 1-3 in the Under 18s after a second-consecutive heavy loss.

There were still some good signs for the away side at League level, with Justin Hoskin booting a game-high six majors and the enigmatic John Butcher adding three more in an improved scoring effort. The Redlegs still found the edge in that department though, as Tommy Pinyon and Peter Bampton made the most of their combined 16 touches to claim four goals apiece.

Former Adelaide midfielder Richard Douglas showed his class in an absolute blinder, cracking in for 35 disposals, seven marks, seven clearances, and two goals as the best player afield. Mitch Grigg played himself into some better form with 24 touches and a goal, while James Boyd led the way for Centrals with 30 disposals to continue his bright start to the campaign. Troy Menzel had a quiet outing, kept to just 13 disposals and a goal.

A similar story was observed in the Under 18s as Norwood kicked away in an eight goal to three second half, with five Redlegs getting on the board with two majors. Among them, Under 16 All Australian Cooper Murley was again lively with 31 disposals in another display of his class. Mitchell Trepka had a team-high 34 touches, while bottom-age defender Alastair Lord managed 31 and Michael Cavallaro bagged a goal from his 27.

Lewis Cowham again led the way for Central District with 35 disposals, seven tackles, and eight clearances as the prime midfield mover, with Shay Linke‘s 22 disposals the next-best tally. Usual suspect Austin McDonald had it 19 times, while Cooper Kalleske and Wyatt Ryan each found the big sticks among their 18-disposal efforts.

South Adelaide vs. Sturt

League – South Adelaide 10.10 (70) def. Sturt (7.5 (47)
Reserves – South Adelaide 6.7 (43) def. by Sturt 9.11 (65)
Under 18s – Sturt 11.9 (75) def. South Adelaide 11.3 (69)

South Adelaide broke open its tight League tussle with Sturt with a five-goal third term, setting up the Panthers’ 23-point win over Sturt at Flinders University Stadium. Both sides may have been level on wins coming into the round, but South now breaks into the leading pack with another solid win.

The Panthers’ leaders were made to work to get their side on top, with former Port midfielder Matthew Broadbent (32 disposals, one goal) at the forefront. Joel Cross picked up from where he left off with 21 touches and a goal, while gun recruit Thomas Highmore was terrific for his 27 disposals, 12 marks, and five tackles in defence.

James Battersby (29 disposals, 11 clearances, one goal) and Sam Colquhoun (29 disposals, seven clearances) made for ample resistance in Sturt’s midfield, but the Double Blues could not ultimately get the job done. Zane Kirkwood was another to impress with 23 touches, while Ash Johnson joined Souths’ Sam Overall as the only players to bag multiple goals.

If the midfield battle was strong at League level, the Under 18s tussle was just as enjoyable. Prolific ball winner Tom Powell again cracked the 30-disposal mark as the Doubles Blues beat South Adelaide via a late Morgan Ferres goal – his fifth for the game. Partner-in-crime Mani Liddy was also outstanding, notching 25 touches and 10 clearances.

It came against good opposition too, with bottom-age Panthers Jason Horne (23 disposals, nine tackles) and Matthew Roberts (22 disposals, two goals) among the best, with Nicholas Kraemer getting his hands dirty for 10 tackles. Phoenix Spicer again hit the scoreboard, booting two goals in conjunction with three from Liam Hamilton.

In the two sides’ Reserves dig, Sturt again came out on top to slot into fourth at 2-2, with South Adelaide still searching for a win at the level. The Double Blues kicked all of their goals at one end, managing five to nil in the first term and a further four in the third to set up the 22-point win.

SANFL Round 4 Preview: Table-topping clash in League sets up big round of action

ROUND 4 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) will see some quality matchups across the leagues, with a couple teams still looking to assert themselves on the competition while others will look to extend their winning ways.
North Adelaide Vs Woodville-West Torrens
League: Two of the league’s most in-form sides will face off at Prospect Oval on Saturday to open round four of the SANFL Statewide Super League. The Roosters sent a stern message to the rest of the competition when they held on to defeat the reigning premiers, Glenelg, away from home. And after missing the finals last season, the Eagles also appear to have returned to their damaging best after easily accounting for Norwood on Sunday afternoon. With the Roosters and Eagles perched at the pinnacle of the ladder, the rematch of 2018’s infamous ’19th man’ preliminary final is poised to be a beauty.
Usually an efficient side in front of goal, the Roosters were slightly wayward at the Bay, booting 10 goals and 14 behinds. Although accurate themselves, Glenelg were unable to penetrate a dour red and white defence, held together by talls Tanner Smith, Cameron Craig and promising teenager Karl Finlay. The Eagles also had their issues in front of goal at times against Norwood, but bags of three straight goals from key forward Jack Hayes and energetic goal sneak James Rowe helped establish the Eagles impressive margin. North Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens both won the possession battle against their opponents, largely thanks to the contested ball-winning abilities of their respective midfield units. Although the Tigers recorded more clearances, inside 50s and rebound 50s than the Roosters, the ferocious tacking and relentless pressure applied by Jacob Surjan’s men simply overwhelmed the Tigers. They laid 94 tackles to Glenelg’s 69, led by midfield beast Campbell Combe, who added a further 13 to his league-leading tally. The Eagles also lost many of the key statistical areas, including the clearances, hitouts, rebound 50s and tackles, however Woodville were much more effective going forward, recording 55 inside-50s to Norwood’s 34. Veteran Matthew Goldsworthy was the leader in this regard, pumping it inside 50 on a game-high eight occasions. The Roosters must be wary of his precision with ball in hand, with the 29-year-old travelling at 97 per cent disposal efficiency so far this season. In the ruck, Roosters key forward Mitch Harvey filled in for the injured James Craig and did a tremendous job, winning more hitouts than his Glenelg counterpart, former Docker Jack Hannath. Eagles bigman Jarrad Redden went head-to-head with Norwood giant Sam Baulderstone and, despite being well beaten in the hitouts, was effective around the ground and at the stoppages. Regardless of Craig’s potential return, expect the ruck duel to be hotly contested. Both sides boast potent attacks, capable of compiling goals in quick succession. The Roosters small forward fleet of Kym LeBois, Robbie Young and Frank Szekely is arguably the best in the league. Whilst Lewis Hender struggled to make an impact against his former side, Glenelg, his six goals in round one is proof of his match-winning potential. Whilst for the Eagles, the aforementioned Rowe rarely misses out in front of the goals. His goal sense and crumbing ability is excellent and will require attention from the Roosters defenders. The Hayes brothers have been a staple of the Eagles offence for several years and Jake Von Bertouch‘s recent shift forward has been a success.
Although their start has been impressive, the Roosters injury list is growing with each game. Tall Alex Barns has struggled with various complaints so far this year, while speedster Robbie Young (hamstring) and tough onballer Cam Hewett (foot) are also anticipated to miss some time after sustaining injuries in the win over the Bays. Prized recruit Billy Hartung was a late withdrawal last week with a back complaint. The club has listed his expected return as indefinite. Ruckman James Craig will face a fitness test. In contrast, the Eagles have less than a handful of injury concerns. Louis Sharrad injured his hand against Norwood, but youngster Jake Weidemann is available after recovering from a concussion. It was a tough season for North in 2019 after they started the season on -4 points. However they did manage to beat the Eagles in the final round to ensure they avoided the wooden spoon. The Eagles did, however, gain some revenge by knocking them off in round one by 25 points.
Reserves: North Adelaide’s reserves haven’t quite been as successful as the league side in the first three rounds, but a win over the Redlegs and admirable 16-point loss to Glenelg in recent weeks suggests they aren’t a pushover. However injuries to a host of regular senior players may test their depth at reserves level. The Eagles flexed their muscles against Norwood in the seconds too, recording a comfortable 63-point win to remain undefeated. Woodville-West Torrens will head into this clash as favourites, but expect North to be up for the fight.
Under-18s: The Eagles and Roosters Under-18 sides have made slow starts to their respective campaigns. However they boast some exciting talent, particularly through the midfield. North co-captain Jamison Murphy and exciting forward Tariek Newchurch are the ones to watch in the red and white. And for the Eagles, keep tabs on Power father/son prospect Taj Schofield and 190cm Caleb Poulter, who has certainly turned some heads in the first few weeks of action.
West Adelaide Vs Glenelg
League: West Adelaide will be looking to record their first win of the season when they host Glenelg at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Bloods have come tantalisingly close over the past fortnight, drawing with Central Districts before last weekends narrow eight-point defeat to Sturt. But, despite their round three loss to North Adelaide, the Bays remain a formidable side, boasting one of the most talented squads in the league.
Whilst the ‘Westies’ may not possess the depth of talent at the disposal of some of their rivals, they showed admirable fight to steal the lead from Sturt towards the end of the third quarter last weekend. They were out-classed by the Double Blues, who won almost all of the key statistical areas. However coach Gavin Colville would have been pleased with their tackling pressure around the ground, along with the spirited individual efforts of forward Isaac Johnson and talented key position teenager Riley Thilthorpe, who got better as the game wore on. Glenelg also went down with a fight, threatening to snatch victory from the Roosters grasp at ACH Group Stadium. The Tigers were reasonably efficient going forward, kicking 11 goals and five behinds from their 53 inside 50s, however their tackle numbers, unlike West’s, were considerably lower than their opponents. Reigning Ken Farmer Medallist Liam McBean kicked multiple goals for the third straight match and hard-at-it midfielder Matthew Snook was typically industrial for Glenelg.
If they are to stand a chance of claiming victory, West Adelaide simply must restrict the scoreboard impact of McBean, who has taken the league by storm over the past 18 months. West key defenders Josh Ryan or Patrick Levicki loom as likely matchups for the 202cm McBean and fellow forward Luke Reynolds, who has proven to be just as dangerous when at his high-flying best. Interestingly, the Bloods restricted McBean to just one goal in the two games between the clubs last season. The midfield battle will also be a huge test for the inexperienced Bloods, who will likely turn to battle-hardened skipper Kaine Stevens and the 24-year-old Brett Turner in the hope of matching it against Glenelg’s potent onball unit. The aforementioned Snook provides the grunt along with inside partner Brad Agnew, with the likes of Partington and Marlon Motlop able to push forward and impact the scoreboard. New recruit Jack Hannath has been Glenelg’s go-to man in the ruck this year, with McBean occasionally providing a chop-out. West Adelaide’s Andre Parrella endured a monster opening fortnight, accumulating 92 hitouts against North and Central Districts, however he missed the clash with Sturt through illness. Stuart Taverner did a terrific job as his replacement, winning 44 hitouts against the talented Dan Fahey-Sparks. Parrella has been listed as available, however, and will be expected to return to the league side. Thilthorpe and captain Tom Keough are the focal points of the Bloods forwardline and their contrasting playing styles could prove a handful for Glenelg’s skipper Max Proud and second tall Matt Merrett.
The Bays reported no injuries from the loss to North Adelaide, however West’s Dallas Willsmore will face a test to prove he has overcome a groin complaint. The two-sides last met in round 17 of the 2019 season, with Glenelg dominating to record a 75-point win. Although it was tighter earlier in the season, Glenelg still managed to record a 16-point victory.
Reserves: Glenelg’s reserves side remain undefeated after they claimed a 16-point win over North Adelaide. They sit third on the ladder, behind Woodville-West Torrens and Central Districts, who are also yet to drop points in 2020. After opening the season with a win over the Roosters seconds, West Adelaide has suffered back-to-back defeats and will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing showing against the Double Blues. If he retains his place in the reserves side, draft hopeful Cooper Horsnell is one to watch for Glenelg in this encounter.
Under-18s: Much like at reserves level, the Bays Under-18s continue to go from strength-to-strength and are yet to record a loss. They boast a talented squad, headlined by potential Crows father-son Luke Edwards, prolific bottom-ager Lewis Rayson and strong marking key forward Riley Holder. In contrast, the West Under-18s have struggled, however talented midfielders Bailey Chamberlain and Lachlan De Cesare have performed well and mounted strong cases for state selection later in the year.
Norwood Vs Central Districts
League: Norwood will be desperate to get their season back on track when they take on fellow winless side Central Districts at Coopers Stadium in the traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot. While the Redlegs troublesome start to the year has been wildly unexpected, Central Districts fans know their club is going through a rebuilding faze, but will still expect a strong performance against a potentially vulnerable Norwood outfit. If there was ever a chance for the Bulldogs to defeat Norwood away from home, now is the time.
The Redlegs really struggled forward of centre against Woodville-West Torrens, who ran all over the top of Jarrod Cotton’s men, who have been a powerhouse of the competition for several years. Despite the best efforts of former-Crow Richard Douglas, strong tackling midfielder Josh Richards and dominant ruckman Sam Baulderstone, the Redlegs were unable to stop the talented Woodville-West Torrens forward line. Central Districts, on the other hand, fought valiantly against South Adelaide at home, but a one-point third term was never going to be enough to grind out a win. It wasn’t James Boyd‘s fault though, with the veteran midfielder racking up 39 touches, six tackles and five clearances. Luke Habel was steady as always across half-back and Troy Menzel showed glimpses of his obvious talent. Nick Lange had just eight touches but he already looks like a star in the forward line. The Dogs were beaten in the clearances, largely out-worked around the ground and smashed in the inside 50s, but their tackling pressure was noticeable.
Richy Douglas has been impressive for the Redlegs up-forward and certainly doesn’t appear to have slacked-off in the gym since leaving West Lakes. The Bulldog defenders must nullify his ability to accumulate the ball and hit the scoreboard in his natural mid/forward role. Current Central Districts captain Luke Habel or former-skipper Trent Goodram could be tasked with the job on Douglas or dangerous small forward Peter Bampton, whilst key defender Rhett Montgomerie will likely match up on Norwood tall Tommy Pinyon. Despite their winless start, the Redlegs still boast one of the most complete midfields in the competition. Mitch Grigg‘s laser-like leg hasn’t been in full swing yet, but at his best the dual Magarey Medallist can be devastating. Matthew Panos has been one of the league’s best onballers for years while Richards and Matthew Nunn are two of the best up-and-coming midfielders. Boydwas everywhere in the Central Districts midfield, but he will require additional help from the likes of Darcy Pisani and Kyle Presbury if the Dogs are to take it up to the Redlegs. Bulldog ruckman Jonathan Marsh has been impressive early in the season and he currently sits fourth in the league for hitouts. Whilst Marsh may go toe-to-toe with Baulderstone in the hitout numbers, he will need to increase his production around the ground to compete with the Norwood bigman, who is arguably as valuable around the ground as he is at stoppages. The Central Districts forward line revolves around key forward John Butcher, however the exciting and dynamic Nick Lange has added an element of x-factor to the attack, alongside the highly skilful Troy Menzel. Michael Talia may have been given the job of stopping Butcher, but he sustained a hamstring injury in the loss to Woodville-West Torrens. Whilst much of the attention of the Dogs forwards will understandably be focused on kicking a winning score, they must be wary of Norwood’s ability to rebound from defence, spearheaded by Brad McKenzie and Emmauel Irra.
Norwood and Central Districts split their two matches last season, with Norwood taking a narrow three-point victory early in the year before the Dogs bounced back, defeating their eastern suburbs opponents by 19 points in the final minor round clash. The Redlegs suffered injuries to three vital players on the weekend, with Michael Talia (hamstring), Luke Surman (hamstring) and Zac Richards (Quad) all expected to miss varying lengths of time with soft tissue injuries. Meanwhile the Dogs may be without Ryan Llewellyn after he injured his knee. Teenager Henry Nelligan was quiet on debut against the Eagles but Norwood have shown a willingness to play their youth in seasons gone by and he will be better for the experience. The Bulldogs also boast a talented young midfielder/forward of their own in Corey Durdin, who has been given an extended run at league level since debuting last season.
Reserves: Although their league side has struggled, Central Districts have been excellent at reserves level, recording reasonably comfortable victories over Sturt, West Adelaide and most recently, South Adelaide. Expect the club to reward strong form in the reserves by promoting their best performers to the senior side. The Redlegs, who won the reserves premiership last season, sit winless at the foot of the ladder but boast a number of talented players and will be buoyed by a return to The Parade.
Under-18s: The form of Norwood’s Under-18s has been a bright spot during what has been a disappointing start for the club. After a loss to pace-setters Glenelg in the opening round, triumphs over North and the Eagles have lifted them into a finals position. Central Districts were easily beaten by a talented South Adelaide outfit at Noarlunga on the weekend, but on-ballers Lewis Cowham and 16-year-old Austin McDonald have battled strongly. Keep an eye on Redlegs bottom-ager Cooper Murley, who is already finding an abundance of the ball at Under-18s level, as well as key forward Finn Heard and prolific defenders Michael Cavallaro and Matthew Dnistriansky.
South Adelaide Vs Sturt
League: Sturt will make the trip down south to take on the Panthers at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both sides will likely be pleased with their two wins so far. South Adelaide, who will be without captain Matt Rose for 11 weeks as he recovers from a shoulder injury, bounced back from a close loss to Glenelg in round two to hold off the Bulldogs at Elizabeth on Saturday. Meanwhile the Double Blues, who were comprehensively beaten by the Eagles at Adelaide Oval in two weeks ago, held off a spirited fight from the Bloods.
Despite recording two wins, the Double Blues haven’t been entirely convincing. However they did win most of the key statistical areas against West Adelaide. They were largely clean with their ball use in general play (80 per cent disposal efficiency) and in front of goal, booting eleven goals and six behinds. Nathan Grima’s men outworked the bloods, taking 94 marks to West’s 39. While the clearance and hitout numbers were close, the cream rose to the top, with many of Sturt’s stars producing strong showings, including ball magnet Sam Colquhoun, skipper James Battersby and key defender Sam Wundke. South Adelaide weren’t at their best against Central’s, however encouraging signs from teenagers Zac Dumesny and Beau McCreery will have filled coach Jarrad Wright with optimism. The Panthers midfield won the clearance battle 36 to 28, with Joel Cross and Matthew Broadbent accumulating five and nine respectively. Also pivotal to their victory was the work of Tom Highmore and Joseph Haines down back. Haines was simply everywhere, with his strong aerial presence proving difficult for the Bulldogs to penetrate when going forward. He has come on in leaps and bounds this season and has established himself as one of the league’s best defenders, who also has the capacity to push up onto a wing. Although they could have been more efficient in front of goal, the Panthers controlled proceedings for much of the game and smashed Central’s in the inside 50s.
The Sturt forward line has struggled at times this season, but the talent of Josh Hone, Jake Sutcliffe and Ash Johnson is undeniable. Johnson kicked one goal and five behinds last weekend but looks lively whenever he goes near the ball. The Double Blues must also hold Haines, Highmore and Jake Summerton accountable and prevent them from taking intercept marks across the halfback line. They took a combined 29 marks against the Bulldogs. Sturt’s Mark Evans and Zane Kirkwood regularly rotate through the forward line and present a threat for the likes of Jaidan Kappler and Alex Cailotto. In the midfield, experienced SANFL stars James Battersby (Sturt) and Joel Cross (South Adelaide) may go head-to-head. Both are particularly strong at stoppages and prolific around the ground. Sturt’s Abe Davis will be keen to put in a good performance against his former club. He boasts genuine x-factor with his size, strength and scoreboard impact in the midfield. Youngsters Dumesny, Hayden Sampson and Darnell Tucker have all shown encouraging signs, with the former producing his best league performance to-date against the Bulldogs. The Double Blues also have a couple of handy young talents in Casey Voss, Tom Lewis and Jed McEntee. Lewis had just eight disposals in his league debut, but it was no surprise to see him lay a game high eleven tackles. Voss laid nine himself while McEntee’s defensive pressure was particularly noticeable in the opening fortnight of matches. The ruck battle also appears set to feature a couple of emerging talents, with Sturt duo Dan Fahey-Sparks (22-years-old) and Lachlan Burrows (19-years-old) teaming up against 21-year-old South bigman Cameron McGree. Tall forwards Sam Overall and Ben Haren pose strong aerial threats in the South Adelaide forward line, with the aforementioned McCreery and the explosive Liam Fitt impressing as small/medium-sized types. While Haines was impressive for the Panthers, Sam Wundke also stood out playing a similar role for Sturt, with his rebound and intercept marking ability proving invaluable.
The Double Blues will be without small defender Guy Page (hamstring) and wingman Matthew Crocker (quad) for up to three weeks each but the Panthers could regain Malcolm Karpany, who will face a fitness test to prove he has overcome a back complaint. Sturt won both matchups between the two sides last season, by 22-points in round five and 36 in round 12.
Reserves: Although the Panthers league side appears set to battle it out for a finals spot, the immediate future doesn’t look quite as bright for their reserves, who remain winless after loosing to Central Districts by 71 points. Sturt were also staring down the barrel of a zero and three start to the year, but made light work of West Adelaide on home turf. Draft watchers should keep an eye out for Sturt key defender and Crows NGA prospect James Borlase in this one.
Under-18s: This Under-18s clash is shaping as a ripping contest and features some of the state’s brightest prospects. Sturt has been led to an undefeated start by prolific on-ballers Mani Liddy and Tom Powell, who have both accumulated a heap of the ball early on. South Adelaide bottom-agers Jason Horne and Matthew Roberts also have no issues getting their hands on the ball and already appear a class above Under-18s level. In-form forwards Liam Hamilton (South) and Zabien Parker-Boers (Sturt) also loom large for their respective sides.

2020 SANFL Round 3 Preview: Sides prepare to build momentum

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) is back again this weekend, with Round 3 kicking off and teams hoping to generate some momentum.

Central Districts vs South Adelaide

League: 

The Bulldogs and Panthers were both involved in tight finishes on Sunday, but ultimately failed to take home the two points. However, Central Districts recorded their first points of the new year after drawing with West Adelaide in the final match of round two. Moments before the Dogs and Bloods took to the field, South Adelaide mounted a remarkable comeback against the reigning premiers, Glenelg. Down by 45 points at three quarter time, the Panthers rallied to stem the margin to within a goal with two minutes left on the clock. The Bays held their nerve to survive an almighty scare, but South Adelaide would have drawn confidence from their ability to score heavily in quick succession. Central Districts also struggled early against West Adelaide. After trailing for all of the match, the Doggies piled on goal-after-goal in the last quarter and took the lead, only for the Bloods to square things up before the final siren sounded.

Central Districts’ reliable captain Luke Habel will again look to set his side up from half-back, after accumulating 23 disposals and five rebound-50s last weekend. Joseph Haines (22 disposals, seven marks and seven rebound-50s) played a similar role for South Adelaide, helping orchestrate much of South’s drive from defence, whilst also spending some time on the wing. He may be directed to pay close attention to Central’s Nicholas Lange after his strong performance. Last round, Panthers key defenders Jake Summerton and Ben Haren faced the daunting task of matching up against Glenelg’s dynamic duo Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds and fought admirably, restricting the gun pair to two goals each.

Veteran South Adelaide midfielder Joel Cross has started the season on fire, accumulating an equal league-leading 58 possessions in two matches. In the absence of captain Matt Rose, who will miss 12 weeks with a shoulder injury, Cross was typically prolific around the stoppages against West, finishing the outing with seven clearances. He could go head-to-head in the midfield with Bulldogs gun James Boyd, who has been excellent since returning to Elizabeth after a stint with Woodville-West Torrens. Jarrod Schiller managed just 14 touches against West, but his pressure around the contest and tackling were excellent. Meanwhile, Panthers midfielder Ben Heaslip got things moving for the blue and white, finishing with six inside 50s. He also used his strong 189cm frame to assert himself around the ball, laying seven tackles. Prized Panthers recruit Matthew Broadbent has made a strong first impression at Noarlunga. Despite having been deployed as an attacking-defender during his time at Port Adelaide, Broadbent has spent more time around the ball for South. Bulldogs ruckman Jonathan Marsh battled hard against dominant West Adelaide tall Andre Parrella and this week appears set to do-battle with 21-year-old Panthers ruckman Cameron McGree, who was soundly beaten by Tiger Jack Hannath in just his third game of league football.

The Panthers coaching staff will have been encouraged by the performances of their young small forwards so far. The talented Hayden Sampson continues to go from strength-to-strength, having booted three-straight in the Panthers loss. Fellow smalls Luke Bogle, Eamon Wilkinson and Liam Fitt each kicked two goals, as did full-forward Sam Overall. Although Beau McCreery was quiet against Glenelg, he was excellent on debut in round one. With luckless forward Daniel Menzel ruled out for the season with an ankle injury, Central Districts assistant coach John Butcher took it upon himself to lend a hand in attack. He booted three goals in the draw whilst potential draftee Corey Durdin and former-Blue and Crow Troy Menzel both nailed two. However wingman, Lange stole the show in just his second league match, booting four goals, laying six tackles and taking five marks. Instrumental in the Bulldogs comeback, Lange has emerged as one of the leagues best outside midfielders and poses a genuine offensive threat to South Adelaide’s on-ballers.

Needless to say, both sides will be hoping for fast starts in this encounter. The Panthers got through relatively unscathed in their round two encounter and could regain Malcolm Karpany for the battle at X Convenience Oval. For the Bulldogs, full-back Ryan Falkenberg will miss a month of football after sustaining a calf injury.

Reserves: 

The Bulldogs and Panthers reserves sides will lock-horns following the league match. The Bulldogs remain undefeated in the second-tier competition, after defeating West last weekend. Alternatively, South are still searching for their first scalp of the year after going down to Glenelg by 29-points. The Panthers will likely be without ruckman Damon Freitag, after he injured his ankle.

Under-18s: 

The Central Districts Under-18s will travel south to Flinders University Oval to clash with the Panthers late on Saturday morning. The Panthers midfield has been impressive so far, with rugged skipper Nick Kraemer impressing alongside ultra-talented bottom-agers Jason Horne and Matty Roberts. The brilliant duo, who starred for SA at last year’s Under-16 National Championships, are certainly two to look out for, having combined for a staggering 63 disposals, 22 marks, 18 tackles and 19 clearances in the loss to Glenelg. The Bulldogs can also lay claim to a promising bottom-aged midfielder in Austin McDonald. He has been the standout for the Bulldogs so far. The bottom-agers might steal the show in this one.

 

Glenelg vs North Adelaide

League: 

Only one team will remain undefeated after North Adelaide heads to the bay to face Glenelg on Saturday afternoon. Glenelg have prevailed by the skin of their teeth in their two matches, first defeating Norwood by three points before eclipsing the Panthers by five. The rejuvenated Roosters kicked off their campaign with a comprehensive win over West and backed it up with a narrow victory over the Redlegs. However the reigning premiers are without a doubt the team to beat and will be a tough challenge for Jacob Surjan‘s chargers, particularly away from home. The Roosters appear to be back to their free-flowing style of football which saw them win it all in 2018, but we’ll know for sure if they mean business if they can match it with the Tigers.

Tigers skipper Max Proud and Matt Merrett will likely be tasked with stopping threatening duo Mitch Harvey or Keenan Ramsey, with Chris Curran expected to provide his trademark rebound. New recruit Jackson Edwards has also performed well down back alongside teenager Luke Parks. For the Roosters, classy half-back Jarrad Almond and small defender Elliott Chalmers will play pivotal roles against their former side. Cameron Craig and Tanner Smith will attempt to nullify the influence of Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds. Young key defender Karl Finlay may also be called upon to provide support, whilst talented Roosters recruit Harrison Wigg will be looking to utilise his damaging left-foot to generate drive from the defensive 50.

The midfield battle is tantalising. After a slightly subdued start to the season, Magarey Medalist Luke Partington was back to his best on the weekend, nailing three goals and accumulating 35 disposals to go with six marks, nine clearances and six inside 50s. Matthew Snook has also been at his best in the trenches and currently sits equal-first in the league for disposals. Restricting their dominance at the stoppages will be the number one focus for Surjan and his coaching staff during the week. But after some handy off-season wheeling-and-dealing, the Roosters have a strong midfield of their own, led by vice-captain Andrew Moore and former-Hawk Billy Hartung. The pair have acclimatised well to SANFL football, with both proving their worth in the middle against the ‘Legs. But it has been inside midfielder Campbell Combe who has really impressed for North. Not only did he accumulate 29 touches against Norwood, but he also laid no-less-than 15 tackles. An old-school, in-and-under extractor, Combe and hard-nosed Glenelg midfielder Bradley Agnew are two of the league’s most ferocious tacklers and will be expected to fight hard for their sides in the middle. Despite being drafted by West Coast as a key position player, Matt Allen has proven himself in the guts for the Tigers and popped up to hit the scoreboard last week. Allen and fellow-recruit Billy Stretch have further added to a Tigers midfield which was already brimming with talent. Club captain Alex Spina, recruit Cameron Hewett and vice-skipper Tom Schwarz, who will play his 100th SANFL game, have also been strong across the midfield for the red and white. Glenelg’s Jack Hannath will have his sights set on continuing his strong early season form against North’s James Craig.

The Roosters and Tigers forward-lines feature some of the games most exciting talent. Glenelg’s attack in largely centred around tall timber Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds, who finished first and second in the league for goals last season. North Adelaide’s mosquito fleet, comprised of skilful young gun Frank Szekely, former-Blue Kym LeBois and speedster Robbie Young, have the potential to carve-up even the dourest of defences. Glenelg’s Cory Gregson, Marlon Motlop and Darcy Bailey are well-known threats forward-of-centre and will be a handful for the Roosters small defenders. Keenan Ramsey and Mitch Harvey have provided excellent service for North Adelaide over several years, with the latter converting two important set shots in last Saturday’s win. Lewis Hender will also be eyeing off another bag in his return to Glenelg, where he spent much of his junior career.

The two sides will by eagerly awaited the fitness tests of Alex Barns (North Adelaide) and Carl Nicholson (Glenelg) after they both suffered from concussion in last weekends respective triumphs. North may also regain Ben Jarman from an ankle injury. All eyes will be fixed on ACH Group Stadium on Saturday arvo for what appears set to be a cracking contest.

Reserves: 

The reserves will take to the field a couple of hours before the league sides do battle. Glenelg is yet to loose a match at league, reserves or Under-18s level so far in season 2020, but North Adelaide’s seconds will be full of confidence after beating a talented Norwood line-up by 15-points in hostile territory last Sunday. Keep an eye on promising draft hopeful Cooper Horsnell for Glenelg and North’s Harrison Magor.

Under-18s:

With draft prospect Kaine Baldwin set to miss a second-consecutive season after succumbing to another anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, key forward Riley Holder stepped up, booting four goals in the win over South Adelaide. Prolific Sacred Heart College duo Lewis Rayson and Xavier Robins have made strong starts to the year in the yellow and black. Luke Edwards looks set to front-up for the Under-18s once again, however he could push for reserves selection off the back of a series of promising showings. North Adelaide’s Under-18s were beaten by a strong Norwood outfit in round two, despite the best efforts of skipper Jamison Murphy and midfielder Kallis Freer. Able to turn a game on its head, eye-catching forward Tariek Newchurch will certainly keep the Bays defenders on their toes.

 

Woodville-West Torrens vs Norwood

League: 

After loosing close encounters to Glenelg and North Adelaide, the Redlegs will be eyeing off their first win of the season when they head to Maughan Thiem Kia Oval on Sunday afternoon to face Woodville-West Torrens. The Eagles league-leading percentage helped them rise to third spot on the ladder following a comprehensive dismantling of the Double Blues last weekend.

Zac Richards was arguably Norwood’s best afield in the loss to the Roosters, gathering 29 disposals, ten marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound-50s in his role across half-back and through the midfield. He also kicked a goal to continue his strong start to the season. Cameron Shenton was also named in the sides best players after generating plenty of drive from defence and accumulating seven rebound-50s. Brad McKenzie was similarly effective coming out of defence, providing his side with nine rebounds. Key defender Cameron Ball will likely match up against one of the Hayes brothers and could receive some help by the potential inclusion of Michael Talia. Down back for the Eagles, the key defensive pairing of Jake Von Bertouch and Luke Thompson will be tasked with stopping Norwood taels Tom Pinyon and big-man Luke Surman. The experienced Patrick Giuffreda will be relied upon to blanket one of the Redlegs’ damaging small forwards, with recruit Pierce Seymour expected to provide plenty of bounce from the backline.

The midfield battle is likely the greatest strength of this Norwood side, with the likes of Mitch Grigg, Matthew Panos and Matty Nunn consistently ranked amongst the leagues best players. Along with new recruits Richard Douglas and Ryan Bastinac, Norwood has certainly benefitted from the scoreboard impact of their midfielders over the past few years. It certainly helps when are provided silver-service by dominant ruckman Sam Baulderstone. The experienced bigman was terrific around the ground against North, gathering 19 disposals, a goal, five marks and 34 hitouts. However his six clearances were perhaps most impressive. However Eagles ruckman Jarrad Redden and pinch-hitter Jack Hayes have been in some excellent form themselves, combining for 32 disposals, 49 hitouts and ten clearances between them against Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks last round. Eagles midfielders Jimmy Toumpas and Matthew Goldsworthy have hit some good form early on, with the former gathering 27 disposals, five tackles and five clearances against Sturt, whilst the latter nailed two goals from his 23 touches and eight inside-50s. The Eagles will need wingman Jake Comitogianni, mainstay Angus Poole, bash-and-crash inside midfielder Jesse Lonergan and reigning best and fairest Jordan Foote to be on their game if they are to match it with the talented Norwood on-ball unit.

Small forwards James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens) and Peter Bampton (Norwood) have both proven to be key components of their respective sides forward lines. Both genuine goal kickers, Rowe has started the season well, kicking six goals in two games, whilst Bampton has booted two. Nick Hayes and Jack Hayes have long been the focal point of the Eagles attack and will again prove a difficult match-up for Norwood’s key defenders, particularly in the air. Both are capable of hauling in big grabs and got plenty of time with ball in hand last week, combining for 31 possessions. Youngster Lachlan McNeil also got himself involved in his supporting role up forward, however he will wish he had converted his two behinds into majors. The Eagles simply must restrict the scoreboard impact of the Norwood midfielders, given their potency in-front of goal. Usually a defender, Von Bertouch booted three goals for the Eagles when moved from defence to the forward-line and adds to the threat posed by Woodville-West Torrens’ forward-line.

Norwood will be hopeful young gun Cole Gerloff and half-backman Nick Pedro can overcome their ankle injuries, whilst the Eagles’ Joseph Sinor and Angus Poole will face fitness tests after sustaining concussion and nose injuries in the win over Sturt.

Reserves: 

The two clubs reserves sides will play in the curtain raiser before the league sides do battle, in a re-match of the 2019 reserves Grand Final. The Eagles will certainly be seeking revenge for their loss in last years final day and again appear one of the teams to beat in the second-tier of SANFL football, having recorded wins over South Adelaide and Sturt to kick-off the new season. Meanwhile, Norwood’s title defence has started slowly, recording losses to the Tigers and Roosters in recent weeks.

Under-18s: 

The Redlegs Under-18s looked impressive in their win over North Adelaide on the weekend. Bottom-ager Cooper Murley was terrific in the midfield and up-forward and already appears one of the standouts of the under-18s competition. Prolific defenders Michael Cavallaro and Matthew Dnistriansky were everywhere in the opening fortnight of action, generating much of Norwood’s rebound from defence. For the Eagles, who remain winless, look out for SA Academy Hub member and potential Power father-son selection Taj Schofield.

 

Sturt vs West Adelaide

League: 

The Double Blues kicked just one goal in the second half last week and coach Nathan Grima will be demanding a response on home soil against West Adelaide. The Bloods, on the other hand, were left to rue some inaccurate kicking in-front of goal in the dramatic draw to Central Districts. However there were some encouraging signs shown by several of West’s youngsters.

The aerial work of key defender Sam Wundke was one of few bright-spots in Sturt’s 51-point loss at the hands of Woodville-West Torrens. He took three strong contested marks (five marks in total) and provided excellent rebound from the backline, finishing with eleven rebound 50s to go with 22 disposals. Young defender Malachi Lines didn’t get a lot of the ball (eight disposals) but showed some promise on debut. Veteran small defender Aaron Anderson was the standout down back for the Bloods, accumulating 26 disposals and three rebounds from defence. Elliott Dunkin also continues to show why he received some attention from AFL ranks towards the end of the 2019 season. His rebound from defence, athleticism and shut-down ability may worry the Double Blues forwards. Logan Hill was also good in the draw, whilst full-back Josh Ryan could be tasked with clamping down on Sturt forward Jake Sutcliffe.

Casey Voss was arguably Sturt’s best player on the weekend. Starting on-ball, the son of Brisbane great Michael, proved he belongs at the level in just his third league match. He racked up 24 touches and kicked a goal but it was the 19-year-old’s work around the stoppages which really stood-out, amassing seven clearances. Whilst much of the Bloods attention may be directed towards established on-ballers James Battersby, Mark EvansSam Colqhoun and Zane Kirkwood, they must be wary of newcomer Voss’ abilities around the contest. Voss’ on-ball partnership with fellow 19-year-old Jed McEntee would have impressed Grima. McEntee, a member of SA’s 2019 National Championship side, laid a game-high ten tackles to demonstrate his toughness and excellent defensive pressure. However West’s Kaine Stevens won’t be afraid to teach the fresh faces a few lessons around the ball. His 12 clearances, 26 disposals and five tackles proved invaluable in the Bloods engine room against Centrals. Josh Schiller has had a tough-run with injuries lately, but the inside midfielder’s toughness and contested-ball winning will be vital against Sturt’s talented on-ball unit. Former-Crows top-up player Jordon Boyle has been terrific in his new colours, collecting 55 disposals at 82 per cent efficiency in the opening two games on the wing for the Bloods. Dallas Willsmore‘s link-up ability has also been a feature of the Bloods game-style. The ruck battle between West Adelaide’s Andre Parrella and Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks is intriguing and could prove telling, given they sit first and second in the league for hit-outs, respectively. The athletic Fahey-Sparks has impressed so far in 2020. His tap-work has been strong (accumulated 33 hit-outs against Woodville-West Torrens’ Redden and Hayes last week) and his ability around the ground will get the better of many SANFL ruckman. However the 22-year-old Parrella will prove to be his toughest test yet. The big-man has had a monster start to the season, recording a whopping 92 hit-outs in two matches.

Up-forward, its hard to look past West Adelaide’s ultra-talented draft prospect Riley Thilthorpe. He kicked 1.2 against Central Districts and showed a willingness to get involved around the ground when helping out in the ruck, accumulating ten disposals, 15 hit-outs, five tackles and five marks (two contested). Thilthorpe and skipper Tom Keough, who booted three goals on the weekend, will prove a handful for a Sturt backline without premiership-duo Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans, who both retired in the off-season. Lydon Hupfield has started the year well as a small forward, providing the line-up with energy and goal-sense. Sturt has yet to see the best of boom-recruit Abe Davis, who has failed to fire so far in season 2020. However his strong frame will always ensure he is a danger in attack, along with smalls Josh Hone and Byron Sumner. Athletic tall forward Ash Johnson was electric on debut, taking four contested marks and booting three goals, however he was kept to just one kick against Woodville-West Torrens. However he still managed to break into the highlight real when he almost took an instant mark of the year contender. His liveliness up forward is infectious and presents as another threatening Sturt forward.

The Bloods didn’t pick up an injury during the clash with the Bulldogs, but young forward Josh Koster is still at least a fortnight away from returning from a hamstring complaint. Tom Harms will likely miss another game with a calf injury, but pocket rocket on-baller Tom Lewis could be included for his league debut after making the extended bench last weekend.

Reserves:

Sturt and Westies will play each other at Peter Motley Oval in a curtain-raiser to the league match. Sturt are still searching for their first win of the season whilst West will be looking to return to winning ways after being defeated by a strong Central Districts seconds by 35-points last weekend.

Under-18s: 

A couple of South Australia’s most talented junior midfielders will face-off when Sturt’s under-18s meet West Adelaide at Hisense Stadium. Sturt’s Tom Powell and Mani Liddy have been utterly dominant across the opening two rounds for the Double Blues. Both prolific but quite different in their playing styles, the duo will go head-to-head in an exciting battle against West Adelaide’s Bailey Chamberlain and Lachlan De Cesare. Also watch-out for Sturt forward Morgan Ferres, who bagged six goals against the Eagles. The Double Blues will go in as favourites and have emerged as front-runners of the Under-18s competition, alongside Glenelg.

SANFL weekly wrap Round 2: Bays go undefeated across all leagues

GLENELG remains undefeated across the three South Australian National Football League (SANFL) grades as we recap what happened in the state league on the weekend.

STURT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS

Woodville-West Torrens Eagles bounced back from a Round 1 loss to pounce with a 51-point triumph over Sturt in convincing fashion on Saturday. The Eagles dominated possession with almost 100 more disposals – predominantly handballs – plus 78 – but also brought the heat with 96 tackles to 83. After actually trailing by four points at half-time, Woodville-West Torrens went on to boot nine goals from 19 scoring shots to Sturt’s one from four in the second half and record a 14.12 (96) to 6.9 (45) victory. The run included 12 consecutive goals, between Jake Sutcliffe‘s major for the Double Blues at the 17-minute mark of the term, and Casey Voss‘ consolation major late in the last quarter.

Matthew Goldsworthy was impressive around the ground with 23 touches, four marks, eight inside 50s, four tackles, three clearances and two goals, while Nick Hayes kicked three majors from 15 disposals, six marks – two contested – five tackles and four inside 50s. James Rowe was also busy to continue on his form from last year, kicking three goals from five scoring shots, and racking up 20 touches, four marks – two contested – and three inside 50s. Former Port Adelaide midfielder, Jimmy Toumpas had a game-high 27 disposals, five clearances, five tackles and five inside 50s in the win. For Sturt, Voss had 24 touches, four marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and two rebounds to go with his goal, while Sam Wundke was ever reliable in defence with a massive 11 rebounds from 22 touches and five marks – three contested. Zane Kirkwood (22 disposals, five clearances) and ruck Daniel Fahey-Sparks (18 disposals, eight marks, 33 hitouts and a goal) were also prominent in a losing side.

The Reserves saw the Eagles double-up on their League victory with a 25-point win over the Double Blues. It kept their unbeaten season alive and moved and they sit in third on the table after booting five last quarter goals in a remarkable final term. They were on the back foot at three quarter time, but only allowed the opposition one behind in he final term as they booted 5.4 to run away with the 10.8 (68) to 6.7 (43) victory.

In the Under 18s, it was Sturt who claimed a big win over Woodville-West Torrens, booting nine goals to five in the second half – in particular five goals to one in the final term to run away with the contest. They dominated possession and were too strong in the air with 10 more contested marks, whilst both teams had a ridiculously high number of inside 50s (50-41). In the end, Sturt got up 15.7 (97) to 7.10 (52).

Morgan Ferres was electrifying with six goals from eight scoring shots, and 17 touches. He also took nine marks – four contested and was unstoppable in the air. Tom Powell controlled the midfield for Sturt, racking up 35 disposals, seven clearances, eight inside 50s and five tackles, working hard with fellow AFL Academy member, Mani Liddy at the stoppages who had 29 disposals, seven clearances, three inside 50s and four tackles himself. Brad Jefferies (30 disposals, four marks, four clearances and six inside 50s) were also strong, while Will Staples laid 10 tackles from 20 touches, four clearances, five inside 50s and booted a goal.

Caleb Poulter was strong up forward in a losing side, snagging three goals from 16 touches, five marks, seven tackles and seven inside 50s for the Eagles, whilst father-son prospects, Jase Burgoyne (22 disposals, five marks, five tackles and four rebounds) and Taj Schofield (20 disposals, seven tackles, six clearances, eight inside 50s and three rebounds) were also prolific. Zac Buck was a fierce tackling presence with 10 tackles from 21 touches and five clearances, while Charlie Adams and Harrison Dawkins had 18 disposals and six clearances each.

 

NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE

North Adelaide’s League side has held off Norwood in a thriller, sentencing the Redlegs to a second straight week of so close, yet so far, with the Roosters getting up by two points on the weekend. The win enable the Roosters to end Round 2 at the top of the table, while Norwood sits at the bottom with an 0-2 record despite conceding just five more points than they scored with three and two-point losses in the opening two rounds. In this match, it was the Roosters who won with a more accurate 9.9 (63) to Norwood’s 8.13 (61) to enjoy the triumph.

Norwood dominated possession across the ground and had a whopping 31 more marks and five more clearances, but it was their inaccuracy in front of goal, combined with the Roosters’ defence that ensured life was difficult for the Redlegs. Campbell Combe was huge through the midfield with 29 disposals, three marks, 15 tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s, while former Hawks and Roo, Billy Hartung feasted on 28 touches, four tackles and six inside 50s to provide some dash for the Roosters. Alex Spina was strong in defence with eight rebounds from 24 disposals and four tackles, whilst former Tiger, Andrew Moore had 23 disposals, six tackles, eight clearances and six inside 50s in a big performances. The goals were shared around with Mitch Harvey and Kym Lebois both snagging two majors for the winners.

Norwood had eight individual goal kickers in the game, as Zac Richards had an equal game-high 29 touches, as well as 10 marks, two clearances, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds for the Redlegs. Matthew Nunn (28 disposals, four marks, five tackles, five clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds) and Declan Hamilton (27 disposals, nine marks, five tackles, six inside 50s and one goal) were both productive. Others who had at least 20 touches were Brad McKenzie, Nic Rokahr, Dom Barry and Mitch Wilkins who worked hard to find the ball around the ground.

The Roosters also moved ahead of Norwood in the Reserves with a 15-point victory over the Redlegs. Both sides headed into the clash after losing their previous encounter, but it was the Roosters who led at every break, ad whilst Norwood tried to hit hard in the final term, booted 1.4 to 1.1 and fell short, going down 9.8 (62) to 6.11 (47).

Norwood turned the tables in the Under 18s however, bouncing back from a disappointing loss the week before to run secure an ultra-impressive 11.7 (73) to 6.10 (46) victory over North Adelaide. The Redlegs took control after trailing by five points at the first break, to boot four goals to zero in the second term, and then four goals to two in the third to get enough separation between themselves and their opposition to win by 27 points at Coopers Stadium.

Norwood dominated the outside play with a massive 112 marks to 77, whilst having five more inside 50s and 75 more disposals. North Adelaide won the clearance battle by five and laid two more tackles, but it would not be enough to get the job done. Michael Cavallaro and Matthew Dnistriansky both had 30 disposals and combined for a massive 19 marks and 10 rebounds, with Cavallaro also helping himself to four inside 50s. Mitchell Trepka (28 disposals, six marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and three tackles) was strong, as was Marcus Roberts (26 touches, five marks, five inside 50s and four tackles), while bottom-age star Cooper Murley had a day out up forward with three goals and spending time up the ground to amass 24 touches, three clearances, five inside 50s and took four marks.

For the second consecutive week, Kallis Freer had a big day out for North Adelaide, picking up a team-high 25 disposals, six marks, five clearances, four tackles and eight inside 50s, while AFL Academy member Jamison Murphy had 21 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Hugh Jackson (23 disposals, seven marks, five tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Blayne O’Loughlin (21 disposals, two marks and four rebounds) also had more than 20 touches, while the talented Tariek Newchurch finished with 17 touches, four marks, three inside 50s and 1.1.

 

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG

Glenelg joined North Adelaide as the only undefeated side in Round 2 after another nail-biting thriller. The Bays won by five points – 15.7 (97) to South Adelaide’s 14.8 (92) – just a week after holding off Norwood to win by three points in that game. The reigning premiers now sit second on the table, whilst South Adelaide slip to fourth, both still having a solid percentage after a Round 1 win. Luke Partington was the difference with the Magarey Medallist leading his side to a vital win on the inside as the Tigers stormed to a plus five in clearances, plus seven in tackles and whopping plus 79 in disposals. Most of that differential was handballs as the Bays were willing to win the contested ball and fire out a handball to someone in space.

After a quiet week by his standards in Round 1, Partington was simply unstoppable in Round 2, amassing 35 disposals, six marks, nine clearances, six inside 50s, three rebounds and three goals in a complete performance. He was far from alone though with teammates Matthew Snook and Marlon Motlop both racking up nine clearances each. Snook also had 28 touches, five tackles and six inside 50s, while Motlop booted two goals from 25 disposals, eight tackles and four inside 50s. In the week that his brother Matt returned to the Collingwood team, Jonty Scharenberg also had a big day for the Bays with 22 touches, seven marks, four tackles and three rebounds. Jack Hannath showed his experience in the ruck with a mammoth 43 hitouts from 15 disposals, while other former AFL players, Cory Gregson and Billy Stretch booted three goals between them from a combined 36 touches.

Joel Cross tried his heart out in the midfield for the Panthers, picking up seven clearances from 24 disposals and five inside 50s, teaming up well with ex-Power player, Matthew Broadbent (19 disposals, five clearances, four tackles and six inside 50s) and Nic Schwartz (17 disposals, six clearances, five tackles and four inside 50s). Hayden Sampson was busy inside 50 with three majors from 17 touches and four inside 50s, while former NEAFL talent Thomas Highmore looked composed once again with 15 disposals and five marks. Young talent, Zach Dumesny did not look out of place thanks to 15 disposals, six marks, three tackles and four rebounds.

Glenelg also sits undefeated in the Reserves competition with another strong win, this time knocking off the Panthers by 29 points. They booted five goals to one in the third term after a relatively even first half, then capitalised on the only goal of the final quarter to win 9.6 (60) to 4.7 (31). The loss meant South Adelaide sits seventh, but only marginal percentage behind fellow winless side, Norwood in sixth.

Glenelg’s Under 18s side’s win meant much celebration for the yellow and black with all three teams remaining undefeated in season 2020 thus far. The Bays sit second after two games, only behind Sturt, whilst the Panthers loss saw them slip to third with a percentage of exactly 50 after the first two games. Glenelg had to come from 14 points down at the final break to boot 3.6 to 0.0 in the last term and run over the top of the Panthers, It meant they had more scoring options pop up after Riley Holder had booted four of the Tigers’ six goals to three quarter time. Glenelg dominated the tackle count (plus 20) and disposals (plus 75) but were beaten at the stoppages in both hitouts (minus six) and clearances (minus five).

Lewis Rayson (31 disposals, 10 marks, eight tackles, two clearances and four rebounds) and Xavier Robins (30 disposals, four marks, four tackles and five rebounds) both had big days, but it was the first half of Holder who finished with four goals from 22 touches, eight marks – four contested – three tackles and four inside 50s that really stood out. Potential father-son prospect Luke Edwards racked up 29 touches and booted one goal from four scoring shots, while Hagan Wright laid an impressive 12 tackles from 24 touches, six marks, three inside 50s, three clearances and two rebounds.

Bottom-agers Matty Roberts and Jason Horne were huge for the Panthers, combining for a huge 63 disposals, 22 marks, 18 tackles, 19 clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal in a duo that could well draw comparisons to Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson coming through the Oakleigh program. Another bottom-ager in Arlo Draper picked up 18 touches, five marks and booted two goals, while Max Clifton (25 touches, four marks, six clearances, four inside 50s and four tackles) was also prominent for the Panthers.

 

WEST ADELAIDE vs CENTRAL DISTRICT

Both West Adelaide and Central District headed into the game winless, and left winless, though showed that at their best they are going to trouble some sides. The Bloods and Bulldogs could not be split by the final siren, in a tale of two halves. West Adelaide almost put the game to bed at quarter time had they kicked straight, booting 6.5 to 1.2, with another slow Central start costing them. They picked up after quarter time and roared to the finish line, even leading right up until the 23rd minute mark of the term. Murray Waite converted a goal as the Bloods trailed by six points to level the scores to provide SANFL followers with the first draw of the season. West Adelaide dominated the hitouts (plus 25) and clearances (plus 18), but Central was up for the fight, with 23 more tackles and 12 more marks. Despite losing prized recruit Daniel Menzel for the season, the Bulldogs fought back from another deficit to take home some points.

Jordon Boyle helped himself to 27 touches, five marks, three clearances and five inside 50s for the Bloods, but it was Kaine Stevens‘ efforts onball that really stood out for the Westies. Stevens amassed a game-high 12 clearances to go with 26 disposals, three marks and five tackles, while Josh Schiller had 24 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and five clearances in there. Aaron Anderson (26 disposals, three marks, three tackles and three rebounds) was promising, while the talented Elliot Dunkin picked up 22 disposals, six marks and four rebounds. Potential top AFL draft pick, Riley Thilthorpe played through the ruck and up forward to finish with 10 touches, two marks, five tackles, 15 hitouts and 1.2 for the game, working well with Andre Parrella (12 disposals, 43 hitouts) in the ruck.

James Boyd had a match-high 29 disposals and eight marks, as well as a team-high six clearances to go with five tackles, three inside 50s and a goal. In the absence of his brother, Troy Menzel picked up 25 disposals, six marks, five inside 50s and booted two goals in the draw, whilst Luke Habel had 23 disposals, three marks, four tackles and five rebounds out of defence. Young gun Corey Durdin booted a neat two goals from 14 touches, five marks and three tackles, while former Port forward John Butcher returned to slot three goals from 10 touches, five marks and seven hitouts to be a force inside 50.

Central District Reserves ran out easy 35-point winners over West Adelaide, switched on from the first bounce to race to a 27-point lead by half-time. West Adelaide tried to fight back in the second half, but it was a case of too little, too late as the Bulldogs managed to hold their advantage with five goals apiece after half-time to win 13.12 (90) to 8.7 (55). The Bulldogs remain undefeated in the competition and sit second, while the Bloods are fourth with a 1-1 win-loss record.

Central’s Under 18s side also enjoyed a promising win, picking up a 30-point victory after a slow start, They booted just one goal in the opening term to West Adelaide’s four from nine scoring shots, but the Dogs found their feet after that. Getting to within 13 points at the main break, and then seven points at the last change, the Bulldogs piled on six goals to zero in the final term to run away with the contest. They had five players with multiple goals to their names, while the Bloods shared the goals around with nine individual goalkickers in the loss. Central District had 31 more kicks but 23 less handballs, opting for moving the ball more directly, as well as having a couple more inside 50s, but less marks, tackles, hitouts and clearances.

Austin McDonald backed up his impressive performance from Round 1 with a team-high 25 disposals, two marks, five tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while Chris Tidswell (21 disposals, three rebounds and a goal) and Lewis Cowham (20 disposals, four marks, six tackles and five inside 50s) both found plenty of the ball. Michael De Jonge booted three majors from 17 touches, while Aidan Mudge (two goals), Luca Whitelum (two), Leek Alleer (two) and Finn Reed (two) also had multiple goals.

For the Bloods, Lachlan De Cesare found plenty of the ball once again through midfield, notching up a match-high 26 disposals, as well as eight clearances, eight tackles, four marks and a goal. He teamed up with Cade Kennedy (19 disposals, nine clearances, eight tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Bailey Chamberlain (24 touches, six clearances, four tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds) with their three main midfielders also hitting the scoreboard. Luke Heitmann worked hard in the ruck for 22 hitouts from nine disposals and a goal, whilst Harvey Bock (15 disposals, three marks – two contested – three tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds) was prominent across the field.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Grand Final – Back-to-back, or fairytale turnaround?

AFTER 18 regular season rounds and three scintillating post-season weeks, we are down to the final two in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, with Nightcliff and St Mary’s set to do battle in this year’s decider on Saturday night. The greatest storyline coming into the clash will arguably be that of the difference in each clubs’ 2018/19 campaigns; with Nightcliff coming in as the reigning premier, while St Mary’s took out the unfortunate title of wooden spooner last year. In our comprehensive preview, we recap each 2019/20 meeting between the two sides so far, their overall records and form, and take a look at the key players among the final teams.


ST MARY’S vs. NIGHTCLIFF

2019/20 Grand Final
Saturday March 14, 7:15pm
TIO Stadium

KEY STATS

Records:

St Mary’s – 2nd, 14-4 (2-0 finals), 137%
Nightcliff – 1st, 17-1 (1-1), 197%

Leading goalkickers:

St Mary’s – Jackson Calder (33), Shannon Rioli (26), Leroy Larson (24)
Nightcliff – Trent Melville (46), Liam Holt-Fitz (31), Cam Ilett (24)

Grand final records:

St Mary’s – 32-17
Nightcliff – 4-8

Form:

St Mary’s – 5-0
Nightcliff – 4-1

2020 head-to-head:

St Mary’s 2-1 Nightcliff

ROUND 7 – St Mary’s 15.9 (99) def. Nightcliff 11.6 (72)

Goals:

St Mary’s: J. Paine 5, L. Larson 3, N. Paredes 2, J. Calder 2, J. Box, J. Cheek, J. Quinn
Nightcliff: T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, D. Bowles, J. Butcher, L. Holt-Fitz, C. Ilett, K. Winter-Irving, D. Joyce

Best:

St Mary’s: L. Larson, R. Smith, S. Rioli, T. Davies, J. Paine, K. Parnell
Nightcliff: C. Holmes, K. Riley, S. Wilson, P. Wills, K. Winter-Irving, T. Melville

Talking points:

– St Mary’s becomes the first side to beat Nightcliff in 2019/20
– It was made even more remarkable given the Saints came in off a loss
– The loss was Nightcliff’s first since Round 15, 2018/19 (12 games)
– The Saints win despite having one less goalkicker
– Jackson Paine makes a splash in his first game with five goals

ROUND 14 – Nightcliff 14.13 (97) def. St Mary’s 4.8 (32)

Goals:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz 3, J. Butcher 2, K. Winter-Irving 2, B. Filo 2, S. Wilson 2, J. Tsitas, M. Hagan, T. Melville.
St Mary’s: N. Paredes 2, R. Jordon, S. Lampton.

Best:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz, K. Winter-Irving, J. Kickett, M. Hagan, S. Wilson, B. Arnold
St Mary’s: T. Davies, J. Long, S. Edwards, A. Long, R. Jordon, J. Long

Talking points:

– Nightcliff gets one back over the Saints in convincing fashion
– Liam Holt-Fitz continues his electric mid-season run of form with three goals
– The win meant Nightcliff had beaten every other team in 2019/20
– The 55-point loss still stands as St Mary’s heaviest for the season
– Some fans dismissed the result due to the inexperienced Saints lineup

SEMI FINAL – St Mary’s 16.7 (103) def. Nightcliff 11.11 (77)

Goals:

Nightcliff: J. Tsitas 2, M. Hagan 2, T. Melville 2, L. Sharp 2, S. Wilson, J. Butcher, C. Ilett.
St Mary’s: J. Calder 5, M. Rioli Jnr 4, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Salmon, N. Yarran, S. Rioli, S. Edwards, H. Labastida.

Best:

Nightcliff: N/A
St Mary’s: M. Rioli Jnr, L. Daly, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Calder, T. Saunders

Talking points:

– St Mary’s knocks over Nightcliff for a second time, ending the Tigers’ 11-game winning run
– Maurice Rioli Jnr kicks four brilliant goals to capture the nation’s attention
– Jackson Calder’s five goals takes his finals tally to nine
– Liam Daly’s tagging job on Brodie Filo proves vital
– Four Nightcliff multiple goalkickers not enough for the potent Tigers

KEY PLAYERS

St Mary’s:

Shannon Rioli – A brilliant servant of the Saints over the past few years, and played almost every game this season on the way to 26 goals and a handful of appearances in the best. The Saints will once again look to Rioli for goals and leadership up forward, with his nous inside 50 set to be a factor at the feet of a trio of dangerous talls.

Jacob Long – One of the brightest young stars in the NTFL, Long has flourished this season at senior level with his class and speed on the outside. As one of only two Saints to have played in every game this season, Long has cemented his spot as a must-pick home-grown talent and looks primed for a big top-age season as he pushes into AFL draft contention. Expect him to play a key role again off half-back.

Tom Davies – A rock at the back for St Mary’s this season who was named in the best 13 times in 19 outings, backing up a solid 2018/19 campaign. Expect Davies to have his hands full with a couple of high-end Nightcliff forwards, with his cool head likely to be an important factor amid the typically frantic grand final pace and atmosphere.

Nightcliff:

Brodie Filo – The recently crowned two-time Nichols medalist is one of the league’s premier players, and will be keen to make good on a few down weeks – including being nullified in the semi final clash between these two sides. He may be breathing a sigh of relief with tagger Liam Daly left out of the Saints’ team, but has the class to focus on his own game. His goals from midfield are set to be vital.

Kaine Riley – The Tigers’ best and fairest has been a phenomenon down back this season, consistently putting in shifts in a more unheralded role among a host of Nightcliff stars. Featuring in the best in over half of his 18 games, Riley’s role has not gone unnoticed by those who matter at the minor premiers, and he will again be important given the formidable list of experienced St Mary’s forwards.

Trent Melville – A standout over the last two seasons for the near-unbeatable Tigers, Melville has a knack for notching big bags of goals and making some special plays. He ended the regular season as Nightcliff’s leading goalkicker and has averaged two goals per game against the Saints this year, with his role in the midfield-forward rotation as important as anyones.

TEAMS

St Mary’s:

Full Back – 7. Tylah Saunders, 21. Braxton Ah Mat, 35. Adam Parry
Half Back – 13. Jake Long, 14. Tom Davies, 1. Jacob Long
Centre – 39. Kieren Parnell, 27. Nate Paredes, 11. Nick Yarran
Half Forward – 3. Maurice Rioli Jnr, 8. Raphael Clarke, 9. Shaun Edwards
Full Forward – 30. Jarrad Waite, 10. Shannon Rioli, 24. Jackson Calder
Rucks – 20. Ryan Smith, 28. Rhett Jordon, 23. Jackson Paine
Interchange – 38. Josh Cheek, 15. Jack Long, 22. Joseph Salmon, 5. Henry Labastida, 16. Liam Daly, 2. Jack Geary, 18. Dylan Johnstone, 42. James Quinn, 32. Matt Wilkinson, 36. Aidan Hill, 4. Anthony Long, 12. Leonard Ferreira

In: K. Parnell, J. Waite, R. Jordon
Out: L. Ferreira, D. Johnstone, L. Daly

St Mary’s made the tough call of leaving out Liam Daly, the man who kept Nichols medalist Brodie Filo quiet in the Saint’s semi final win, while also omitting Dylan Johnstone and Leonard Ferreira with some serious talent coming the other way. Homegrown star Kieren Parnell (wing) returns alongside Rhett Jordon (follower) and Jarrad Waite (full forward), with the latter completing a stacked Saints forward line alongside the likes of Jackson Calder, Shannon Rioli, Shaun Edwards, and Raphael Clarke. Young guns Maurice Rioli Jnr and Jacob Long take up flank spots at either end of the field, looking to generate some run and flair on the outside to match the likes of Nate Paredes and Nick Yarran through midfield. Tom Davies and Jake Long will be the rocks in defence, finishing off a formidable spine for the Saints. Not many teams have been able to match the Tigers for starpower over the last three seasons, but St Mary’s is set to do just that with this full-strength lineup.

Nightcliff:

Full Back – 14. Nathan Brown, 26. Marley McGregor, 2. Michael Hagan
Half Back – 10. Cameron Ilett, 22. Daniel Bowles, 5. Kaine Riley
Centre – 3. Jonathan Peris, 33. Shaun Wilson, 12. Joel Budarick
Half Forward – 19. James Tsitas, 20. Trent Melville, 23. Brodie Filo
Full Forward – 6. Liam Holt-Fitz, 30. John Butcher, 17. Lachlan Sharp
Rucks – 8. Kyle Winter-Irving, 11. Phillip Wills, 9. Zac Brain
Interchange – 1. Ryan Mu, 34. Danny Butcher, 31. Hugo Drogemuller, 32. Roger Morris, 53. Brad Arnold, 24. Tyson Kidney, 28. Jonathon Miles, 15. Liam Evans, 4. Matthew Bricknell, 18. Harry Williams, 57. Christos Gikas, 25. Jasper Brain

In: M. McGregor, L. Sharp
Out: J. Kickett, L. Evans

Lachlan Sharp‘s inclusion headlines the two changes made by reigning premier, Nightcliff in its title defence, with the Victorian goalkicking ace returning from suspension alongside Marley McGregor – who slots in down the other end. The heartbreak story lies with Jayden Kickett this year, who misses through injury after 15 games while Liam Evans the other unlucky Tiger to make way – squeezed out of a talented forward line. Leading goalkicker Trent Melville will lead the line at centre half-forward, with Sharp, Brodie Filo, James Tsitas, John Butcher, and Liam Holt-Fitz making up arguably the Tigers’ best front six for the year. Almost every member of that half-dozen will be able to also rotate through the midfield under the ruck craft of Kyle Winter-Irving, with Phillip Wills and Zac Brain the current followers. Down back, mainstays Daniel Bowles, Nathan Brown, and Michael Hagan retain their spots, with veteran Cam Ilett suiting up for yet another premier league grand final, and Danny Butcher set to join him among that back six. The points squeeze has obviously had an impact on both sides, and the Tigers are set to be truly tested man-for-man despite having such a talented lot available.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Preliminary final – Tigers roar into second-straight decider

THE 2019/20 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League Grand Final has been decided after three enthralling post-season weeks, with reigning premier Nightcliff set to face off against St Mary’s after accounting for a brave Southern Districts outfit on Saturday night.

NIGHTCLIFF 3.1 | 5.5 | 12.6 | 13.10 (88)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.1 | 5.3 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: J. Butcher 5, T. Melville 3, M. Hagan 2, R. Mu, L. Holt-Fitz, C. Ilett.
Southern Districts: E. Barlow 2, N. Horbury 2, W. Farrer, J. Innes, J. Garlett, D. Barry.

BEST:

Nightcliff: N/A
Southern Districts: E. Barlow, N. Horbury, M. Barlow, L. Ogden, T. Holman, D. Staunton

Nightcliff has booked its place in the 2019/20 NTFL Men’s Premier League grand final after dispatching Southern Districts to the tune of 37 points in Saturday night’s preliminary final. The Tigers earned passage to their second-consecutive appearance in the big dance on the back of a second half blitz, scoring eight goals to three to round out an impressive 13.10 (88) to 8.3 (51) victory.

The first half proved a tighter affair but Nightcliff still managed to get on top and stay there, notching three goals to Districts’ two in the opening term before being pegged back to a two-point buffer at the main break. But as it goes, the third quarter is the premiership quarter and the long-time flag favourites proved as much by pouring on seven majors in a scintillating half hour of football. The 33-point margin upon the final break looked ominous for the Crocs, and they could not produce the magic required to enact a turnaround as both sides could only manage a goal each to round out the contest. In a game which was largely competitive, it seemed the Crocs’ string of knockout finals finally caught up with them as only a momentary falter was enough to see the Tigers run away with the game.

Revered for its recruiting and open chequebook, Nightcliff once again had a star ring-in front the winning effort, with ex-Port Adelaide forward John Butcher booting a game-high five goals. Club leading goalkicker Trent Melville was also on target with three majors of his own, while Michael Hagan (two) rounded out the Tigers’ multiple goalkickers in what was a typically sound all-round team performance. For the Crocs, Ed Barlow was again at the heart of their effort as he notched another two finals goals to be named best in a losing side, with Nathan Horbury not far behind on the back of his own two-goal effort. Michael Barlow finished a phenomenal back-end of the season off well, and consistent standout Thomas Holman was also thereabouts.

While somewhat of a rollercoaster season comes to a disappointing end for the Crocs, who looked to be in top form at just the right time, the Tigers have bounced back well and will look to go back-to-back. Standing in their way is St Mary’s, the only team to have beaten Nightcliff this year (twice) – including last fortnight’s semi final – in looking to go from wooden spooners to premiers. Best-and-fairest winner Kaine Riley will be sure to lead the effort alongside newly-crowned co-Nichols Medalist Brodie Filo, with all the finals experience of Cam Ilett also set to be important as Nightcliff hopes to ensure it can get one-back at St Mary’s at the ideal time. The 2019/20 NTFL Grand Final is set to go down on Saturday night at TIO Stadium, stay tuned for our comprehensive preview of the big game.