AFTER South Adelaide upset Norwood for the second time in a month, the Redlegs were forced to lick their wounds and head into a preliminary final against the red-hot North Adelaide. For the second consecutive year the Redlegs face the Roosters for a spot in the decider, after North Adelaide got home against a determined Glenelg outfit last week. With the game the only one on show in the league this week, expect it to be a huge contest with plenty of fans from both sides.
NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Friday, May 17, 7pm
Norwood has been the dominant team this year finishing minor premiers, while North Adelaide is in the hottest form of every side, winning the past seven games since being 1-3 following four rounds. At that stage they had played the top three sides – and eventual other top four sides – but much like they did against Glenelg last week, will be keen to seek revenge on Norwood in this do-or-die final. Fans have to go all the way back to Round 1 to see these teams going at it, clashing under lights at City Mazda Stadium in a low-scoring contest that eventually went the way of the Redlegs. They led for most of the game, before North Adelaide conjured up its first goal in the third term to hit the front, before two final-quarter goals handed Norwood the 2.10 (22) to 1.5 (11) victory. Norwood dominated the statistics with 65 more disposals, 12 more inside 50s and six more clearances, while it was North Adelaide that won the ruck duel, 24-14 in the hitouts, as well as the tackle count, 73-55. Hannah Dunn was the top ball winner with 29 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and two clearances, while Najwa Allen impacted up forward with two goals from 20 disposals. Rhiannon Busch was a key in defence with five rebounds, while Monique Hollick got the ball moving in the forward half with seven inside 50s. For the Roosters, Amber Ward announced herself as a defender to watch this season, racking up nine inside 50s from 17 disposals, while Roosters captain Nadia Von Bertouch was strong with 15 disposals, four marks, six clearances and eight tackles.
Looking ahead to the big preliminary final, Allen and Dunn are the two leading disposal winners in the competition, and the only two to surpass the 200-disposal mark. Von Bertouch needs 30 to reach that feat, but is sixth just behind Hollick as the major ball winners in the competition. Since Jane Altschwager had her measure in the opening game, Leah Cutting has become the most consistent ruck in the competition, averaging more than 20 hitouts per game, while Altschwager still averages 14.1 per game and is ranked fourth overall. North Adelaide’s key defensive weapon is Amber Ward, who has recorded 4.2 rebounds per game, and in a team that scores heavily, is the only player in the top seven whose team remains in premiership contention. With contested marking expert Emma Sampson, goal machine Kelly Barltrop and Altschwager rotating through the forward line, North Adelaide has plenty of tall targets to kick to. It will be up to the likes of returning full-back Alison Ferrall, Jo Hill and Sophie Armitstead to not only slow the attacking movement of the Roosters, but create their own going forward.
The Norwood midfield is its strength, and while they do not have a dominant goal kicker like Barltrop (averaging 2.6 goals per game), the likes of Hill and Hollick have combined for 19 goals this season, two per game combined on average. Around the stoppages, Leah Tynan is the top ranked player for the Roosters, averaging 3.8 per game, while Allen is another dominant stoppage expert. With Armitstead able to push into the midfield – and has extracted the ball 41 times from a stoppage – both sides have their fair share of clearance players. This game is likely to come down to whether or not North Adelaide is allowed free flowing movement because they have a midfield – Brittany Perry, Kat Reynolds, Lauren Daniel and more – who can match it with the all-powerful Norwood group, but if they can use the ball well and rebound off half-back through Ward and give the likes of Barltop, Sampson and Cristie Castle first opportunity, then they have more firepower in attack. Norwood will look to control the ball and get it forward to an unpredictable forward line, where Busch, Matilda Zander and Erika Sporn are likely to create opportunities in front of goal. They must be sensible with their defensive work, but also back themselves in to win the midfield and get the ball inside 50.
This game is the best team of the season against the most in-form side. The best offensive side against the most consistent across the board. Norwood by six points in an absolute classic.
B: (5) Cassie Tsoumbris, (19) Alison Ferrall, (35) Jessica Macolino
HB: (36) Sophie Armitstead, (25) Jo Hill, (16) Ashlee Gould
C: (18) Hannah Priest, (8) Hannah Dunn, (17) Tahlia Meyer
HF: (24) Kate Fenton, (29) Jane Fitzgerald, (1) Matilda Zander
F: (28) Rhiannon Busch, (26) Erika Sporn, (14) Michele Reid
R: (21) Leah Cutting, (2) Monique Hollick, (15) Sally Riley
INT: (12) Elisha Gallagher, (23) Matilda van Riel, (32) Rosette Zerella, (4) Zoe Greer, (6) Najwa Allen, (33) Lindsay Bigg, (30) Bella Smith
IN: Alison Ferrall, Rosette Zerella, Matilda van Riel
B: (14) Olivia Gallio, (7) Jess Eichner, (31) Nicole Collie
HB: (17) Sarah Ellis, (24) Amber Ward, (30) Kendall Howell
C: (25) Erica Greet, (9) Lauren Daniel, (10) Paige Allan
HF: (8) Nadia Von Bertouch, (29) Emma Sampson, (6) Adrienne Davies
F: (1) Cristie Castle, (15) Kelly Barltrop, (4) Leah Tynan
R: (12) Jane Altschwager, (3) Kat Reynolds, (19) Brittany Perry
INT: (33) Julia Clark, (2) Alex Fitridge, (34) Danielle Nunns, (20) Elysha Willis