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 Foote, Jimmy 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 Poulter, Jase 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 Panos, Mitch 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.