Tag: Marlon Motlop

NT troops trump Glenelg as rep footy returns to the Top End

REPRESENTATIVE football returned to the Northern Territory on Saturday as an out-of-season Glenelg outfit took on the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) rep side at TIO Stadium. The NTFL Buffaloes won out by 24 points in a competitive outing played amid soggy conditions, finishing the game strongly with three goals to Glenelg’s nil in the final term.

NT captain Cam Ilett took home the Australia Day medal as best afield, leading a side packed with a mix of local talent and guns from around the nation. Territorians Neil Vea Vea and Marlon Motlop were among the Bays’ most valuable players, providing physicality and spark going forward. The game was the first NT representative fixture in 15 years, and the first hitout against Glenelg in 36 years.

>> SCROLL for the final scores, goalkickers and best players

The hosts readied themselves for battle and came out the better side early, applying smothering defensive pressure and locking the ball in their front half for much of the opening term. It translated to the scoreboard too, as the rushed and undisciplined Bays gifted two goals via 50-metre penalties to trail by 11 points at quarter time.

An elongated team talk at the first break spurred Glenelg into action though, with former Richmond key forward Liam McBean booting his second major and Reid Kuller adding another in quick time to put their side ahead. A Nate Paredes bomb from nothing helped steady the NT, who remained ahead by five points at half time as the sides began to trade goals.

The scoring dried up as the rain began to fall harder in the second half, but that did not stop Lachie Hosie from expertly roving a pack and putting Glenelg back ahead. Both sides showed a bit of feeling as the stakes were raised, with the goal-for-goal streak continuing in term three but resulting in Glenelg gaining the ascendancy as the final turn approached.

It was all NT from there, with the likes of James Tsitas and Abe Ankers popping up to show their class in the clutch moments. The in-season factor proved telling as Glenelg fell away late and went scoreless in the final term, a period which was capped by Shaun Edwards‘ game-sealing snap. The celebratory major made for a game-high lead and put the cherry on top of NT’s terrific showing.

While Ilett earned another piece of silverware for his extraordinary personal collection, ball magnet Dane McFarlane was unlucky not to be recognised as the NT’s best player. Rebounding key defender Brodie Newman was also exceptional, while bigman Matthew Dennis battled hard in the ruck, Harley Puruntatameri was lively up forward, and Paredes had patches of dominance.

Vea Vea’s physicality was a highlight for Glenelg as he rotated forward through the ruck, while Motlop came up clutch with a handy third term goal to aid the Bays’ Territorian influence. McBean proved a reliable target up forward and Hosie was dangerous at his feet, with Brady Searle a handy factor down back and Darcy Bailey influential between the arcs.

Earlier, the NTFL Women’s representative team took on their Glenelg counterparts in an historic meeting between the two sides. The wet weather wreaked havoc but did not stop the Territorians from establishing a three-goal lead in the first half, before seeing out a 28-point victory; 5.5 (35) to 1.1 (7). NT standout Jasmyn Hewett won the Australia Day medal, while Mickayla Ward booted two goals.

The night’s other featured match saw the Alice Springs Redtails defeat Katherine’s Big Rivers Football League side by 50 points in an exciting interleague clash. Nigel Lockyer Jnr was among the victors’ best, booting an equal game-high three majors as his team ran out 12.18 (90) to 5.10 (40) winners, largely credit to their superior fluency with ball in hand.

FINAL SCORES:

NTFL BUFFALOES | 3.1 | 5.2 | 6.5 | 9.12 (66)
GLENELG TIGERS | 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.6 | 6.6 (42)

GOALS:

NTFL: B. Eddy, R. Turnbull, C. Ilett, N. Paredes, H. Puruntatameri, J. Stokes, J. Tsitas, A. Ankers, S. Edwards
Glenelg: L. McBean 2, R. Kuller, D. Bailey, L. Hosie, M. Motlop

DC BEST:

NTFL: D. McFarlane, B. Newman, M. Dennis, C. Ilett, H. Puruntatameri, N. Paredes
Glenelg: N. Vea Vea, L. McBean, M. Motlop, D. Bailey, R. Kuller, L. Hosie, B. Searle

Australia Day Medal: Cam Ilett (NT)

Featured Image: The NT Buffaloes and Glenelg Tigers join for a photo post-match | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 9

NIGHTCLIFF roared back to the top of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League standings in Round 9, reaffirming its dominance over the competition at the halfway point of the season. Wanderers relinquished top spot in an upset loss to Waratah, who look every bit the finals contender, while St Mary’s and Darwin continue to motor on within the top five after solid victories of the own. All that, and more in our weekend wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS | 4.1 | 7.2 | 10.7 | 15.10 (100)
NIGHTCLIFF | 4.4 | 10.10 | 14.11 | 17.13 (115)

GOALS:

Tiwi: R. Young 3, A. Tipungwuti 3, A. Wonaeamirri 2, H. Puruntatameri 2, T. Babui, B. Kantilla, J. Tipiloura, B. Palipuaminni, P. Heenan
Nightcliff: K. Emery 5, C. Ilett 5, T. Melville 2, S. Wilson, R. Mu, H. Drogemuller, L. Holt-Fitz, M. McGregor

BEST:

Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti, F. Carroll, J. Monigatti, R. Young, J. Puruntatameri
Nightcliff: C. Ilett, D. Brew, A. Moniz-Wakefield, K. Emery, B. Filo, J. Bowen

Nightcliff reclaimed top spot with a 15-point win over Tiwi at Wurrumiyanga Oval on Saturday, surviving a late scare to come away 17.13 (115) to 15.10 (100) winners. Having been beaten at the jump, the Tigers managed to work to a quarter time lead and began to control the game with poised play amid the hosts’ frantic pace. By three quarter time, their lead was 28 points and Tiwi would have to do something drastic to enforce a turnaround. The Bombers did their best with five majors in the final term, but Nightcliff was able to hold off the charge with cool heads in the dying stages.

While inaccuracy prevented Nightcliff from roaring further ahead, Cam Ilett and Kyle Emery had enough chances to sink five shots through the big sticks each. The Bombers had one more individual goalkicker (nine overall) than their opponents, led by three from Adam Tipungwuti and Robert Young. Dom Brew and Mack Rivett again got their hands dirty in midfield for the victors, while Fletcher Carroll worked to conjure Tiwi’s fightback. Andy Moniz-Wakefield was another to impress for the Tigers and Ryan Mu slotted a goal of the year contended from the boundary.

S. DISTRICTS | 4.2 | 4.3 | 7.5 | 7.7 (49)
ST MARY’S | 2.2 | 2.7 | 8.9 | 11.11 (77)

GOALS:

S. Districts: J. Farrar 2, J. Tsitas, J. Bailey, A. Boseley, L. Kiel, J. Bell
St Mary’s: S. Rioli 2, D. Landt 2, J. Long, R. Smith, B. Tedcastle, N. Paredes, J. Landt, J. Calder, B. Grenfell

BEST:

S. Districts: Z. Smith, M. Bowden, A. Boseley, J. Clark, L. Ogden, D. Robertson
St Mary’s: D. Landt, N. Paredes, A. Long, T. Saunders, B. Grenfell, R. Smith

St Mary’s secured a 28-point victory over Southern Districts at Norbuilt Oval on Saturday, a result which agonisingly sees the Crocs remain just outside of the top five places. The hosts got the better start as wet conditions ensured just six goals would be kicked in the first half, all of which came in the opening term. But St Mary’s flicked the switch after half time, piling on nine goals to clinch the 11.11 (77) to 7.7 (49) win. Having snatched the lead with one period to play, the Saints buried their opponents by keeping them goalless in the last quarter.

In a game where both defences shone, Southern Districts’ was eventually breached heavily as returning skipper Shannon Rioli inspired his side with two third term goals. Dylan Landt matched the feat and was prominent alongside Nate Paredes in midfield, benefitting from the ruckwork of Brandyn Grenfell. Jonathan Farrar finished as Districts’ lone multiple goalkicker, but it was the likes of Zach Smith, Jesse Clark, and Lionel Ogden who proved most impactful for the Crocs. At 4-5 and now a game adrift the finals places, pressure is mounting on Southern Districts to make something of season 2020/21, while St Mary’s firms as a premiership contender.

WARATAH | 3.2 | 9.5 | 12.7 | 18.11 (119)
WANDERERS | 2.2 | 4.4 | 9.5 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:

Waratah: C. Arnold 4, J. Sutton 3, H. Kerinaiua 2, J. Simson 2, R. Turnbull 2, D. Collis, J. Stevens, C. Searle, B. Carroll, J. McGrath
Wanderers: B. Eddy 3, S. Bates 2, E. Simpson, B. Newman, J. Erlandson, B. O’Connell, D. Thompson

BEST:

Waratah: R. Turnbull, A. Ankers, C. Arnold, J. Stevens, H. Kerinaiua, N. Gooch
Wanderers: B. McLean, D. Thompson, B. Newman, B. Eddy, M. Motlop

Waratah has emerged as a serious finals threat after downing Wanderers by 52 points at on Saturday, with the 18.11 (119) to 10.7 (67) result seeing the Muk Muks removed from top spot. In front of a home crowd at Gardens Oval, the Warriors pulled away in terms two and four with a combined 12 goals to three across the two periods, making for a lop-sided final scoreline. Despite getting back to within four goals at the end of the third quarter, Wanderers simply did not have an answer for Waratah’s hardened attack on the ball and clean use on the break.

Midfield maestros Robert Turnbull and Abe Ankers were unsurprisingly instrumental in the victory, with the former also booting two goals. Cameron Arnold kicked a game-high four majors, with three coming in the first half, while Jake Sutton finished with three of his own. Competition leading goalkicker Brett Eddy spearheaded the Muk Muks’ third quarter fightback with three major scores as the likes of Marlon Motlop and Dray Thompson came into the game from midfield. Braedon McLean and Brodie Newman were also important for Wanderers, holding up a heavily pressured defence.

DARWIN | 2.2 | 6.5 | 9.10 | 13.11 (89)
PALMERSTON | 3.3 | 3.4 | 4.5 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:

Darwin: M. Campbell 4, I. Palmer 3, J. Clarke 2, B. Foster 2, M. Kennedy, C. Atkinson
Palmerston: B. McDonald 2, R. Armstrong, J. Harvey, T. Kunoth, A. McAdam

BEST:

Darwin: M. Kennedy, M. Campbell, M. Lochowiak, R. Pendlebury, K. Maroney, L. McKenzie
Palmerston: M. Dennis, N. Lockyer, B. McDonald, C. Williams, T. Kunoth

Darwin bounced back from a slow start, and scratchy recent run of form overall to defeat Palmerston by 44 points at TIO Stadium on Saturday night. The Buffs found themselves seven points behind at the first interval, but managed four goals to Palmerston’s nil in the second term to set up a 19-point buffer come half time. The steady scoreboard pressure mounted and eventually saw Darwin come away comfortable 13.11 (89) to 6.9 (45) winners, consolidating the Double Blues’ spot in the top five.

A number of inclusions and magnet shuffles sured up Darwin’s side, with the experienced Matty Campbell booting four goals to headline them. Midfielder Jalen Clarke and goalsneak Brodie Foster were also in that mix and booted two majors each, while Max Kennedy thrived in the engine room and Mihail Lochowiak continued to show his wares in the front half. Matthew Dennis again led from the front for Palmerston, as the duo of Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Brandon McDonald proved dynamic up forward. The latter snared two majors as his side’s lone multiple goalkicker.

Featured Image: Darwin’s Matt Campbell looks to wrap up Palmerston’s Aaron Davey | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 6

ROUND 6 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League saw three sides continue to pull away atop the competition ladder, while Southern Districts was the only side outside the top three to secure a win, continuing its early-season turnaround. Darwin remains the frontrunner after a statement victory over St Mary’s, but the Buffs have fellow weekend winners Wanderers and Nightcliff hot on their heels. All that, and more in our Round 6 wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS | 3.3 | 6.5 | 8.10 | 13.10 (88)
WANDERERS | 5.1 | 7.4 | 10.6 | 19.6 (120)

GOALS:

Tiwi: A. Sambono 3, A. Christensen 3, N. Hooker 2, A. Tipungwuti 2, D. Munkara, J. Munkara, J. Neade
Wanderers: B. Eddy 5, B. O’Connell 4, S. Bates 2, S. Thorne 2, S. Tipiloura 2, J. Priest, R. Fejo, D. McFarlane, J. Cubillo

BEST:

Tiwi: F. Carroll, M. De Wit, J. Wilson, J. Neade, A. Tipungwuti
Wanderers: B. O’Connell, M. Motlop, D. McFarlane, B. Hodgson

A nine-goal final term ensured Wanderers would pull away from an improving Tiwi Bombers outfit, kicking out to a 32-point victory at Gardens Oval on Saturday. The Eagles booted seven of the last eight goals to seal the premiership points, with their fitness shining through after Tiwi made a promising start to proceedings and remained within touching distance throughout. It proved a bridge too far in the end, as Wanderers remain equal-top with the 19.6 (120) to 13.10 (88) result, while Tiwi is winless in bottom spot.

Brett Eddy moved to the top of the Premier League goalkicking charts with another big haul, this time sinking five majors in a terrific performance. But he was beaten out to best afield honours by reigning Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell, who booted four goals in a sensational showing upon his return to the side. Dane McFarlane and Marlon Motlop were others to control the engine room, while Brodie Newman was again a rock in defence.

Tiwi’s star-studded list of recruits could not quite pull them over the line, but made an impact nonetheless. The recently retired Allen Christensen slotted three majors and looked lively, while Jake Neade also found the big sticks upon entering Tiwi’s side. He was among the best Bombers alongside fellow goalkicker Adam Tipungwuti, and Adam Sambono got back to some scoring form with three majors. Fletcher Carroll and Mason De Wit were others to stand up as Tiwi still searches for its maiden win in season 2020/21.

WARATAH | 1.1 | 2.2 | 5.5 | 8.7 (55)
NIGHTCLIFF | 3.4 | 4.6 | 7.7 | 11.9 (75)

GOALS:

Waratah: W. Collis 2, J. McGrath 2, T. Graham, N. Oakes, A. Kirby, R. Turnbull
Nightcliff: K. Emery 4, T. Melville 3, M. Rivett, D. Bowles, B. Filo, H. Drogemuller

BEST:

Waratah: R. Turnbull, Z. Westerberg, J. McGrath, B. Carroll, N. Stevens
Nightcliff: D. Brew, R. Mu, A. Jorgensen, J. Peris, B. Filo, M. Rivett

Nightcliff knocked off Waratah by 20 points in the game dubbed Battle of the Beaches, with the Tigers pushed all the way at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. An atypically sloppy game was impacted by the heat, with just six goals kicked between the two sides by half time. Both sides surpassed that total alone in the second half, but Nightcliff’s handy two-goal buffer allowed for a relatively straightforward finish despite Waratah’s peskiness. The game opened up as tired legs prevailed, resulting in the 11.9 (75) to 8.7 (55) scoreline.

Boom Tigers recruit Dom Brew continued his outstanding start to the season with another best afield performance, gelling well with the likes of Brodie Filo as Ryan Mu was another to get busy at the fall of the ball. Up forward, Kyle Emery and Trent Melville combined for seven goals with stalwart Cam Ilett rested, proving the Tigers’ firepower. Waratah’s Will Collis and Jae McGrath each managed two majors, while newcomer Thomas Graham was another to provide a viable option and plenty of chances inside 50 for the Warriors. Robert Turnbull and Zach Westerberg were others to stand up in the losing effort.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES | 2.2 | 4.3 | 4.3 | 6.9 (45)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS | 3.3 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Palmerston: T. Kunoth 2, E. Guthrie 2, J. Berry, K. Annand
S. Districts: J. Dahlhaus 3, N. Rokahr 3, D. Robertson, M. Bowden, K. Jones, J. Bell

BEST:

Palmerston: T. Lui, E. Guthrie, M. Dennis, R. Armstrong, J. Mentha, L. Flanagan
S. Districts: B. Rusca, N. Rokahr, J. Bell, D. Staunton, K. Jones, C. McAdam

Southern Districts stormed home with six goals in the final term to help defeat Palmerston by 25 points at Cazalys Arena on Saturday night. The Crocs overcame a narrow half time deficit to sneak back ahead at three quarter time, before more than doubling their combined goal tally for the match in the final term to kick away to the 10.10 (70) to 6.9 (45) victory. For three quarters, it was a scrappy goal-for-goal tussle which Palmerston were in to win, but like many other matches on the day, they were the team to fall away late. The win eases mounting pressure on the Crocs as they now move to 2-4.

Districts midfielders James Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr again had their say, with the latter also getting forward to boot three goals. Small forward Jay Dahlhaus matched the feat as his side notched another win to match the competitiveness it has shown thus far. For Palmerston, Matthew Dennis enjoyed a good ruck battle but was again dominant across the ground, while Eric Guthrie was a useful ball winner for the Magpies, who were unable to fully take advantage of any momentum they mustered. The performances of young guns Tyrrell Lui and Brandon Rusca were also noted by their respective sides, and both are eligible to be pre-listed by the Gold Coast Suns via the Darwin zone.

ST MARY’S | 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.3 | 8.3 (51)
DARWIN | 1.6 | 7.11 | 10.16 | 12.18 (90)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Landt 3, J. Paine 2, B. Grenfell, C. Furphy, J. Goddard
Darwin: I. Palmer 3, J. Stokes 2, D. Matricardi 2, A. Hodor 2, B. Foster 2, J. Collinson

BEST:

St Mary’s: J. Landt, J. Long, D. Landt, K. Parnell, H. Williams, B. Ah Mat
Darwin: J. Stokes, L. McKenzie, J. Collinson C. Atkinson, K. Maroney

Darwin proved its genuine premiership credentials on Saturday night, defeating a lacking St Mary’s side by 39 points at TIO Stadium to remain top of the table. After sharing one goal apiece in the opening term, the Buffs piled on six goals to one in the next period and eventually set up a 55-point lead by the final break. While St Mary’s managed a handful of consolation goals, it proved far too little to save the 12.18 (90) to 8.3 (51) result. It was the Saints’ first loss since Round 2, having reclaimed some vintage form and confidence in the weeks since.

That counted for little as the likes of Jarrod Stokes and Nick Lowden took control of the midfield under Chris Atkinson, while Ishmael Palmer led the attack with three goals. Brodie Foster was one of four Buffs to boot two majors, but was held relatively well by Tylah Saunders. Jack Landt booted three final term goals for St Mary’s to somewhat cut into the final margin, while Dylan Landt was also among the Saints’ best players on what ended up a disappointing day for last season’s grand finalists.

Featured Image: Wanderers midfielder Beau O’Connell eyes up his next move | Credit: Justin Kennedy/NT News

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 5

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League rolls into Round 5 on the weekend, with all four fixtures set to play out on Saturday. Tiwi and Waratah go head-to-head in the opening clash of a TIO Stadium triple-header, while Southern Districts takes on Wanderers at Norbuilt Oval in a standalone game. Find out all the matchups, who will be out to impress, and more in our weekly preview.

Tiwi Bombers vs. Waratah
Saturday October 31, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah will be looking to return to the winners list when it takes on Tiwi on Saturday afternoon, a team yet to register premiership points at all this season. The Warriors’ win-loss record has them due for a victory this time out, having gone down to the undefeated Darwin Buffaloes in Round 4. Tahs’ two losses have come by a combined 19 points, meaning they have remained competitive throughout a difficult draw. On the other hand, Tiwi has suffered four defeats of over 50 points, looking a far cry from the side which stormed into finals last season.

The suspension of forward favourite Austin Wonaeamirri will not do the Bombers any favours, though a beacon of hope arrives in the return of Ross Tungatalum, who was widely billed to run out for St Mary’s in 2020/21. Ashton Hams and Adam Tipungwuti loom as two more high-class inclusions to a Tiwi side which lost comfortably on home turf last time out. Waratah’s settled lineup looks poised for another big performance, and may be boosted by outgoing Norwood ruck Sam Baulderstone, who measures up at 200cm. As far as imports go, the Warriors have fared well with the likes of Callum Searle and Jae McGrath, while mainstays such as Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll should help their side prove too strong for the struggling Bombers.

Southern Districts vs. Wanderers
Saturday October 31, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will be out to convert its maiden victory this season into a streak of winning form, when it hosts Wanderers at Norbuilt Oval on Saturday. The Crocs got on the board last week with a comprehensive 58-point drubbing of Tiwi and look to be building their squad nicely with a distinct Geelong feel. Wanderers has also benefitted from a busy off-season, sitting pretty in second at 3-1 having only gone down to reigning premier, Nightcliff thus far. The Muk Muks returned to the winners list in Round 4 and look a much more competitive side over four quarters than last season.

Southern Districts’ Victorian attacking trio of Andrew Boseley, Luke Kiel, and Jay Dahlhaus combined for 12 goals last week and will be certain to cause plenty of headaches for Wanderers’ defence. Calder Cannons graduate Brodie Newman has settled in extremely well among the Eagles’ back six, helping them maintain a league-best points conceded tally alongside the likes of Warwick Williams and Marcus Totham. Up the other end, Wanderers’ firepower lies with Simon Bates and Brett Eddy, who are both capable of bagging big hauls of goals.

The midfield battle should also be a good one, as Wanderers looks set to unleash Marlon Motlop next to Dane McFarlane, while Round 4 Rising Star Ronald Fejo provides pace on the outer. Even Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell is being kept out of the team upon his return to action. James Tsitas will lead the Crocs’ midfield after a scintillating performance last week, combining with good mate Nikolaus Rokahr and the ever-reliable Dean Staunton. With one team in hot form and the other rising, this should be a heck of a contest.

St Mary’s vs. Palmerston
Saturday October 31, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Fresh off an emphatic upset victory over Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to extend its winning streak to three when it takes on Palmerston at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. The Saints also knocked off Tiwi in Round 3 to currently sit just within the finals placings at 2-2, rectifying what was a lacklustre opening fortnight for the 2019/20 grand finalists. Palmerston has shown glimpses of promise as its lineup begins to gel, but has only defeated the winless Tiwi Bombers thus far. A true test of the Magpies’ improvement should present in this fixture, with the Saints a physical side which can apply good defensive pressure for four quarters.

St Mary’s co-captain Raphael Clarke looks set to return this week, named on the interchange bench with a raft of players ready to step up if required. Up forward, Jackson Paine looms as the dangerman having booted 11 goals in his last two games, aided by the versatile Jackson Calder and young gun Beau Tedcastle at his feet. Daniel Stafford is coming into goalkicking form for Palmerston, with player-coach Alwyn Davey producing vintage performances and Nigel Lockyer Jnr capable of swinging into attack when required.

In the middle, Magpies recruit Chris Williams has been prolific thus far, and is set to go head-to-head with one of the competition’s other dominant ball winners in Nate Paredes. The dynamic Shaun Edwards brings some x-factor to the Saints’ midfield, while Eric Guthrie has been a steady performer for Palmerston. The Magpies’ bigmen in Matthew Dennis and Jack Berry also provide great value, so should make for an even battle through the engine room.

Darwin vs. Nightcliff
Saturday October 31, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin faces arguably its toughest test yet when reigning premier Nightcliff rolls into town, hungry to bounce back from a shock loss in Round 4. The Buffs have defied odds and looked incredibly sharp under new coach Cameron Stokes, currently boasting a perfect 4-0 record atop of the Premier League ladder. That undefeated status will be challenged greatly by the Tigers, who looked to be cruising after three rounds before running into a solid St Mary’s side and dropping points for the first time this season. With arguably the two form sides of the competition coming to blows, this fixture firms as the match of the round.

Both teams have been well settled thus far, though a few changes look set to occur on either side. Nightcliff could finally bring in Calder Cannons standout Daniel Mott on the back of his impressive Division 1 form, while William Wallace is another fresh face who looks good value for a start. Willie Wheeler‘s return has been highly anticipated, so his pending selection is a promising sign. Darwin has been forced into at least one change after Jalen Clarke was suspended for head-butting, which could prove a key factor given the Tigers’ midfield strength. Jarrod Stokes remains though, and the Buffs boast plenty of goalkickers in the form of Brodie Foster, Ishmael Palmer, and the experienced Matt Campbell.

Featured Image: Action from the Round 4 St Mary’s vs. Nightcliff clash | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Premier League season preview

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season is set to bounce down tonight, as Waratah takes on Palmerston at Gardens Oval. After an off-season which saw the points and fly-in rules adjusted, but a raft of players putting pen to paper across all eight clubs, this year’s instalment promises to raise plenty of intrigue and produce even more quality.

In our club-by-club season preview, we take a look at how each side may stack up for the upcoming campaign, touching on the potential new signings and important factors for each team, while also serving a reminder of where they each left off.

CLUB-BY-CLUB:

Darwin:

2019/20 finish: 5th, 10-8 – lost elimination final to Southern Districts by 71
Round 1 fixture: vs. Tiwi Bombers @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

After an up and down 2019/20 season, the Darwin Buffaloes will hope to hold onto the finals place it managed to secure last time out. The Double Blues stormed out of the gates, but struggled to find the required consistency later in the season and exited the finals with barely a whimper against Southern Districts.

Consistency may well be a difficult feat to manage once again, with a coaching change and max exodus of players putting the Buffs in a tough position. While interstaters Brodie Foster and Ryan Pendlebury have recommitted, with outgoing coach Matt Campbell also set to remain onboard in a playing capacity, Darwin has lost a series of big names. New coach Cameron Stokes will have to plug gaps left by last year’s leading goalkicker Daniel Stafford, best and fairest winner Chris Williams, and utility Zak Stephenson, who have all switched to Palmerston.

Exciting goalkickers Brayden Culhane (Wanderers) and Adam Sambono (Tiwi) have also moved through the exit door, leaving a big shoes for new recruits to fill. Much will also be expected of young gun Antonio James, who is fresh off a starring South Australian school football season with Westminster. Fellow youngster Isaac Seden-Kurnoth will also garner plenty of attention, providing the green shoots Darwin may be after during a transitional period along with Ishmael Palmer and Tim Eldridge.

Nightcliff:

2019/20 finish: 1st, 17-1 – won Grand Final over St Mary’s by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. St Mary’s @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

Nightcliff begins its back-to-back premiership defence with a 2019/20 Grand Final rematch against St Mary’s, which should serve as a good measuring stick for the Tigers’ motivation and team cohesion after another big off-season. Premiership hero Trent Melville may have played his final NTFL game in last year’s decider, but the reigning premiers have a bunch of regulars and new recruits to cover any potential losses.

The Tigers’ notoriously deep pockets have lured a number of big-name VFL players, along with a host of Victorians from prominent local/regional leagues, and even the NAB League. Fresh off a strong WAFL season with Claremont which could yet end in premiership glory, Nightcliff junior Ryan Nyhuis would prove the cherry on top of the Tigers’ numerous recruits, along with former Palmerston gun, Kyle Emery.

Homegrown talent remains too, with the likes of Ryan Mu, and Liam Holt-Fitz enjoying steep rises, while Cam Ilett goes around for his 21st season, and Nichols Medalist Brodie Filo lines up once again. It is hard to see the Tigers falling off given the scary depth they possess once again, and it should be a cracking season for fans of the yellow and black.

Palmerston:

2019/20 finish: 8th, 1-17
Round 1 fixture: vs. Waratah @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

Alwyn Davey‘s Palmerston outfit is poised to bounce back strongly from a season which saw them finish last in 2019/20. Strong inter-league recruiting sees them well placed to potentially make a run for finals, with the back-end of the competition evening up this year. A trio of Buffaloes; Daniel Stafford, Chris Williams, and Zak Stephenson should add to the Magpies’ spine, along with returning junior Tyrrell Lui.

Young talent should be in good shape too, with Lui joined by Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Sandy Brock as pillars up either end, while Jonty Patrick returns from SANFL Under 18s duties with Central Districts. The Davey family connection of Alwyn, Russell, and potentially Aaron adds experience, along with mainstay ruckman Matthew Dennis, who has recommitted to the Magpies. That’s not to mention Alywn’s twin sons, who should also run through the Premier League side.

A steady start against Waratah in the season opener should put them in good stead, serving as a decent test of where the side will be at in 2020/21.

Southern Districts:

2019/20 finish: 3rd (4th), 10-7-1 – lost preliminary final to Nightcliff by 37
Round 1 fixture: vs. Wanderers @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Southern Districts will hope the momentum of a spirited finals charge will carry on into season 2020/21, with quite a steady squad remaining in tact for Matt Cannard‘s first year at the helm. Other sides may fancy themselves to move past the Crocs given their relatively quiet off-season, though a strong core and some handy fly-ins should keep Districts within the finals hunt.

The news of Josiah Farrer‘s ACL tear is a big blow to the Crocs’ premiership hopes, though Will Farrer remains as a goalkicking midfielder, while Charlie McAdam and Dean Staunton are other mainstays who can steady the ship. Young outside bolter Brandon Rusca looked primed for a big year after spending some time with the Gold Coast SUNS, while Brodie Lake may sneak some game time in before the AFL Draft. Fellow youngsters Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus have also moved up from Victoria, with Clark a solid defender who captained the Geelong Falcons last year, while Dahlhaus is cut from the same cloth as cousin, Luke.

With a couple more relocating coups, Southern Districts should be able to enjoy some good form throughout the year. Having made a name as one of the competition’s premier teams across the last few years, the Crocs will be hungry not to fall out of the leading pack.

St Mary’s:

2019/20 finish: 2nd, 14-4 – lost Grand Final to Nightcliff by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Nightcliff @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

After a heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to go one-better in season 2020/21 after staying busy in the off-season. A number of big names remain, including Shaun Edwards, Jackson Calder, and Jackson Paine, and Nate Paredes, with Raphael Clarke also set to feature. Ben Long will be a handy addition once his WAFL campaign ends, while returning stars Ross Tungatalum and Anthony Davis promise to add a new dimension to the Saints’ side. Will Hams is another experienced head set to enter the fold, boasting AFL experience.

Add to that recruits of former VFL, NAB League, and Geelong Football League players, and St Mary’s should again prove to be a force in this year’s competition. The recommitment of many stars who helped the club climb off a bottom-place finish in 2018/19 is great to see, with the depth of the squad now right up there with Nightcliff ahead of what should be an exciting season for Saints fans. Having come from a long way back last year, they should start right at the forefront, especially if they can knock the Tigers off in Round 1.

Tiwi Bombers:

2019/20 finish: 4th (3rd), 11-7 – lost semi final to Southern Districts by 40
Round 1 fixture: vs. Darwin @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

One of last year’s most exciting teams, the Tiwi Bombers will be out to make good on their straight-sets finals exit in 2019/20, starting with a Round 1 grudge match against Darwin. The Bombers have added some handy interstate quality, while also managing to secure the services of prolific goalkicker Adam Sambono from the Buffaloes. A major out, though, will be former AFL midfielder Nathan Djerrkura, who moves to Wanderers.

The Bombers’ speed and ease of transition will again put them in good stead this year, with the likes of Harley Puruntatameri and Henry Kerinaiua running the lines, while Jeffrey Simon adds class through the middle or up either end. Tiwi’s mainstays are always important too, and should help secure their side a finals spot once again in 2020/21, but it’ll be tight. Fans will also hope to see a bit more of Cyril Rioli too, after his successful cameo last time around.

Wanderers:

2019/20 finish: 7th 3-14-1
Round 1 fixture: vs. Southern Districts @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Wanderers will look to address and improve on a massive drop-off in form towards the end of last season, as the Muk Muks begin a fresh campaign against Southern Districts tomorrow night. The Eagles’ stocks see them primed for a finals tilt, with the likes of Nathan Djerrkura and Brayden Culhane coming in from rival clubs, while Josh Cubillo and Marlon Motlop are set to feature more prominently as Jonas Niki and Clifford Jamahl make their returns.

In terms of interstate recruits, the Eagles have also dipped into the Victorian pool with a mix of experienced and young players entering the fold, set to line up as soon as in Round 1. The Eagles also lay claim to 2019/20 Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell, who formed a strong midfield partnership with Braedon McLean, but the hole Joel Jeffrey will leave come AFL Draft time is a big one to fill.

Still, the Muk Muks will fancy themselves to improve greatly after showing some great promise early last year, and face a very good test first up against the Crocs.

Waratah:

2019/20 finish: 6th 5-13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Palmerston @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

After an inconsistent season saw them finish best of the rest in sixth, the Warriors have plenty to prove in their 2020/21 campaign. Along with Nightcliff, Waratah has been one of the busiest clubs during the off-season, luring a mass amount of players from all kinds of leagues and levels in Victoria. Young key forward Ned Stevens also returns as a big coup, taking some of the goalkicking pressure of zippy midfielder/forward Kim Kantilla.

The likes of state leaguers Brodie Carroll and Callum Searle also line up for the Warriors, with Jae McGrath another important player to commit to the cause. As usual, Abe Ankers will be the key man, and all involved will hope he can run out more frequently this time around. Expectations will be high for a healthy rise this season considering Waratah’s various coups, but making the next step is always tough, especially with others improving around them.

Featured Image: Nightcliff celebrates its 2019/20 premiership | Credit: AFLNT

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.

2020 SANFL Round 2 preview: Sides return after dusting off the cobwebs

AFTER fans got a taste of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) football last weekend, Round 2 kicks off with plenty on the lines as the teams look to back-up after long layoff heading into Round 1.

Sturt vs Woodville-West Torrens

League:

Sturt will do battle with Woodville-West Torrens to kick off round two of the SANFL Statewide Super League. The Double Blues led all day and ultimately defeated Central District by 15 points in the season-opener last weekend. After missing out on a finals berth last season, Woodville-West Torrens narrowly lost their opening encounter of 2020 to South Adelaide. Despite wrestling back the lead late in the final term, thanks to goals from the Hayes brothers (Jack and Nick) and gun small forward James Rowe, the Panthers escaped with a six-point victory.

If they are to get their season rolling, the Eagles must put time into Sturt recruit Ash Johnson, the brother of current-Crow Shane McAdam, who booted three goals in the win. His aerial ability, athleticism and raw talent ensure he is one to watch. Fellow off-season signing Abe Davis and small forward Josh Hone will also cause headaches for new Eagles coach Jade Sheedy, given their potency up forward. As is often the case, the midfield-battle will be vital to the outcome of this clash. Industrial Sturt skipper James Battersby was arguably to best-on-ground last weekend for his work around the stoppages, collecting 26 disposals, eight tackles and 11 clearances. Dual Magarey Medallist Zane Kirkwood perhaps wasn’t at his damaging best against the ‘Dogs, but will demand serious attention all day.

Jordan Foote and Jimmy Toumpas will again be expected to lead the way in the Eagles engine-room. Foote was a strong inside presence on the weekend, finishing with six clearances, seven tackles and 21 possessions, whilst Toumpas’ class and skill shone on the outside. Midfield mainstays Angus Poole and Sam Rowland will be looking to benefit from the tap-work of big-man Jarrad Redden, who will do battle with Sturt’s Daniel Fahey-Sparks. The athletic Fahey-Sparks looks to have made big strides in the off-season, finishing the match against Central Districts with 52 hitouts and four clearances from his six possessions. Redden will receive a welcome chop-out from Jack Hayes, who proved a colossus in the air against South. Hayes booted two goals, recorded 17 hit-outs and clunked five contested marks but was also effective at ground-level, laying eight tackles and a couple of clearances. Sturt will be hopeful of regaining prolific midfielder Sam Colquhoun, who missed the round one clash with a hamstring injury, and medium-forward Jake Sutcliffe, who was struck down by illness.

Reserves:

The Eagles and Double Blues Reserves will converge at Peter Motley Oval on Sunday morning to continue their seasons. In another close finish, Woodville-West Torrens managed to defeat their South Adelaide opponents by eight points on Sunday, in a match where both sides were efficient in front of goal. However, that was not the case for the Double Blues reserves, who were bombarded early and will rue missing a number of opportunities in their 14-point loss to Central Districts. After a strong season last year, the Double Blues will be looking to notch up their first win against Woodville-West Torrens, who were beaten by Norwood in the 2019 Reserves Grand Final.

Under 18s:

The Under 18s sides will do battle after the reserves game on Sunday afternoon, with the Double Blues looking to build upon a comprehensive 48-point win over the Bulldogs. The Eagles, a traditional under-18s powerhouse, were defeated by close-rivals South Adelaide by ten-points. The Eagles have won the past two U18 Torrens University Cups over the Panthers but South Adelaide gained some round one revenge, despite the best efforts of prolific Eagles midfielder Caleb Poulter.

Poulter, a versatile 191cm prospect kicked a goal and amassed 34 disposals, seven marks (two contested), ten tackles, and seven clearances in the loss. Promising SA Hub tall forward Zac Phillips booted two goals and will prove a difficult match-up for the Sturt defence. The Double Blues will again be looking to feed off the midfield work of Mani Liddy and Tom Powell, who were both dominant in the win over Centrals at Elizabeth Oval. Look out for half-forward Morgan Ferres, who impressed with his clean hands and aerial ability in the victory.

 

Norwood vs North Adelaide

League:

Off-the-back of an impressive round one win over West Adelaide, the Roosters will face a tough test on Saturday afternoon against the battle-hardened Redlegs. In a re-match of the 2018 Grand Final, Norwood will be keen on asserting themselves on the contest, after being narrowly defeated by Glenelg in the marquee game of the opening round. North Adelaide’s x-factor forward Lewis Hender jumped out of the blocks, kicking seven goals-straight in the 29-point win.

Encouragingly for new coach Jacob Surjan, the Roosters off-season signings all started well, with midfielders Cameron HewettAndrew Moore and Billy Hartung getting involved early and finishing with 18, 25 and 19 disposals, respectively. Hewett and fellow inside midfielders Campbell Combe and Tom Schwarz were strong on the inside of the contest, laying a combined 28 tackles. The Roosters on-ball unit will need to be at their best when they face a battle-hardened Norwood midfield, headlined by deadly trio Richard DouglasMatthew Nunn and Mitch Grigg.

Douglas, a star signing in the off-season, recorded eight tackles and four clearances from his 20 touches, whilst Nunn, Grigg and Matthew Panos all benefited from the dominance of premier-ruckman Sam Baulderstone. Roosters ruckman James Craig will have his work cut out for him against the 200cm Baulderstone, who has proven to be the leagues best ruckman over his career. The Norwood on-ball unit is formidable and will only be further improved by the anticipated addition of Ryan Bastinac, who started the season in the reserves.

Norwood defenders Nik Rokahr, Mitch Wilkins and Nick Pedro face the daunting task of shutting down Roosters forwards Frank Szekely and Kym LeBois, who kicked a combined five goals in the win over West Adelaide. Injuries plagued Rooster Harrison Wigg‘s AFL career during stints with Adelaide and the Gold Coast, however his obvious talent was on show for all to see on Saturday, collecting 27 disposals, nine marks and six rebound 50s. Norwood must look to nullify his intercept marking ability across the backline. Redlegs running-machine Anthony Wilson is expected to miss another week with a calf injury, but tall defender Michael Talia faces a test to prove he is over his hamstring complaint. For the red and white, tall Alex Barns and son-of-a-gun Ben Jarman will both face tests after sustaining ankle injuries. The Redlegs will start as the clear favourites, but a revamped Roosters side will be eyeing off what would be a major scalp.

Reserves:

North Adelaide won the reserves competition in 2018 but, much like the clubs league side, slumped in 2019. Wooden-spooners from last season, the Roosters reserves will face the Redlegs seconds at the Parade on Sunday afternoon. Norwood were beaten by Glenelg last weekend and will be eager to bounce-back on home turf. Ryan Bastinac could be promoted to the league side after brushing off the cobwebs in the reserves against Glenelg. Norwood small midfielder Harry Nelligan has attracted the attention of draft watchers for his fierce tackling and prolific ball-winning and will expected to once-again line-up at reserves level on Sunday. For North Adelaide, young midfielder Harrison Magor and promising key defender Dyson Hilder will be looking to build form in the reserves to mount a case for a call-up to the Roosters league set-up.

Under 18s:

Norwood’s Under 18s side failed to land a punch against the Bays on Saturday, going down by 44 points. Matthew Dnistriansky‘s work across the backline was a standout in the defeat. He collected a team-high 25 disposals, nine marks and 10 rebounds. SA Hub member Cooper Murley also showed signs in the loss. The Roosters Under 18s defeated the Bloods by 12-points in round one, with exciting small forward and potential Crows NGA prospect Tariek Newchurch booting three goals. Captain Jamison Murphy has turned the heads of recruiters since picking football over cricket and will again be one to watch in the midfield, after a well-rounded performance at Prospect Oval last Saturday. He collected 26 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two clearances, six inside 50s and five rebounds.

 

South Adelaide vs Glenelg

League:

South Adelaide held off the fast finishing Eagles but face a more daunting task in the form of the reigning-premiers, Glenelg. Ken Farmer Medalist Liam McBean booted four goals to confirm his status as the leagues best key forward and will prove a tough match-up, likely for South Adelaide key defender Jake Summerton, who gains no reprieve after battling the Hayes brothers last weekend. Rugged midfielders Matthew Snook and Bradley Agnew were as industrial as ever and Marlon Motlop‘s silky skills will worry the South Adelaide coaching staff.

Magarey Medallist Luke Partington was not quite at his destructive best, but will prove a handful for the Panthers midfield, which will likely be without skipper Matthew Rose after he sustained a shoulder injury. In his absence, star onballer Joel Cross was left to do much of the heavy lifting and will again be relied upon in the engine room against a strong Glenelg midfield. Encouraging for the Panthers were the senior debuts of small forward Beau McCreery and versatile draft prospect Zac Dumesny.

McCreery proved invaluable in the last term, helping wrestle back the momentum by kicking back-to-back majors late in the final term, and Dumesny did not look out of place, collecting 11 disposals. Although several years older than McCreery and Dumesny, former-Power defender Matthew Broadbent also made a successful debut for the club down back.

Glenelg’s recruits also performed well, with former-Docker Jack Hannath strong in the ruck and Jackson Edwards providing solid rebound from the defensive-50. South Adelaide’s Malcolm Karpany suffered a back injury and will face a test later in the week, and Glenelg’s Tom Condon will also need to prove his fitness before the Sunday afternoon clash. Glenelg deservedly start as favourites, but South will be feeling positive after a win over the Eagles.

Reserves:

The Panthers and Tigers reserves will lock-horns at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday in a mid-morning time-slot. The Tigers defeated Norwood by 22-points last weekend, whilst the Panthers, despite kicking straight, were beaten by the Eagles in a close-encounter at Woodville’s Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. The Tigers Reserves will be looking to build upon the solid start and continue to feed-off the recent success of the league side, whilst the Panthers are aiming to launch a finals campaign after missing out in the previous four seasons.

Under 18s:

The Bays made it three-from-three across the weekend when the under-18s recorded a comprehensive 44-point triumph. SA Academy Hub member and potential Crows father-son prospect Luke Edwards was solid in the win, collecting 22 disposals. His versatility, size and experience as a bottom-ager at the 2019 National Championships will likely see him move beyond under-18s level soon enough. Luke Pedlar was dominant for the Bays, finishing the clash with Norwood with 28 disposals, three marks, six tackles and four clearances, whilst Lucas Schultz bagged four majors. Key tall Riley Holder could prove a handful for the Panthers, as could the running capacity of Xavier Robins. Panthers skipper Nicholas Kraemer is expected to lead from the front once again, after his nine-tackle showing against the Eagles.

 

West Adelaide V Central Districts

League:

In the final match of round two, Central Districts take on West Adelaide, with both sides no-doubt eager to earn their first points of the new season. The Bulldogs struggled to get things going in their forward half, despite the exciting off-season acquisition of Daniel Menzel. Centrals would have been pleased with the efforts of midfielders James BoydJarrod Schiller and Nick Lange, who battled hard against a strong Double Blues on-ball unit.

This week, they will face the likes of former-Hawk Dallas Willsmore and consistent veteran Kaine Stevens. The ruck battle is also likely to be closely fought, between West Adelaide big man Andre Parrella and Centrals’ Jonathan Marsh. Whilst Marsh was beaten in the ruck by Sturt’s Dan Fahey-Sparks, he still managed 37 hitouts and was busier around the ground than his Sturt counterpart, collecting 10 disposals and laying seven tackles. Parrella, one of the competitions best tap ruckmen, beat North’s James Craig on the weekend, winning the hitouts 49 to 29.

The eyes of many draft watchers will remain fixed on ultra-talented ruckman/tall-forward Riley Thilthorpe, who will again line-up in attack for the Bloods, alongside skipper Tom Keough. Energetic small forward Lyndon Hupfeld will be one to watch this week, after his four-goal performance against North. The Dogs enter the round two clash with a clean-bill of health, but Bloods off-season signing Josh Koster will miss with a hamstring injury. Josh Schiller missed a large chunk of 2019 with a shoulder injury and suffered a back complaint in the clash with North Adelaide. He faces a test to prove his fitness. Although both sides are not expected to feature in the finals series, this match-up could prove to be the closest of all the round two fixtures.

Reserves:

Central Districts reserves side will make the trip down into Adelaide’s western suburbs to do battle with the Bloods at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Dogs are coming off a hard-fought victory over Sturt, whilst West Adelaide made the Roosters pay for their inaccurate goal-kicking, coming out victorious by 31 points away from their Richmond home. Currently top after the opening round of action, the Bloods will be eager to continue their winning ways after a disappointing 2019 season which saw the side finish seventh. The Bulldogs seconds have been strong performers over the past few seasons, finishing in the finals since 2017 but failing to claim the ultimate prize.

Under 18s:

The Under-18 sides for the respective clubs will also face-off on Saturday. The Bloods and Bulldogs both lost their opening round fixtures but West will likely start this encounter as favourites, given the Bulldogs under-18s struggles in recent seasons. Midfielders Lewis Cowham and 16-year-old Austin McDonald were rare highlights during the hefty loss to Sturt, with both players finding an abundance of the football. McDonald was particularly strong around the stoppages, finishing with a game-high 12 clearances despite his inferior age. After facing Sturt, SA Academy Hub midfielders Tom Powell and Mani Liddy last weekend, the Dogs onballers gain no reprieve and appear set to clash with the prolific Bailey Chamberlain. Forward Jye Sinderberry may also cause some headaches for the Bulldogs defenders.

2020 SANFL Round 1 preview: Football returns to South Australia

AFTER weeks of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season 2020 of the SANFL Statewide Super League will officially kick-off proceedings on Saturday. With Port Adelaide and Adelaide unable to compete, the league’s eight remaining clubs will play rounds one and two in the form of double-headers at the Adelaide Oval, across two weekends. Further fixtures are set to be released at a later date.

Central District V Sturt

Central District will be eager to unveil prized-recruit Daniel Menzel when the Bulldogs lock horns with the Double Blues on Saturday afternoon. Sturt were victorious in both encounters between the two-clubs last season but bid farewell to a continent of premiership players in the off-season. Former AFL-listed trio Abe Davis, Aidyn Johnson and Dean Gore were recruited to bolster the clubs forward and midfield stocks. Centrals finished eighth in 2019 for the second-consecutive season, despite having won three of their final five matches, whilst Sturt reached another SANFL finals series but exited following an elimination final defeat at the hands of Norwood.

As is so often the case, the midfield will likely be where this game is won. Sturt has built a formidable on-ball unit, led by the prolific Sam Colquhoun, brilliant Zane Kirkwood, skipper and clearance king James Battersby and former Cat-turned-Crow Gore. For the ‘Dogs, Travis and Jarrod Schiller, will again be heavily relied upon in the engine-room, having finished second and seventh for disposals last season, respectively. The brothers were prolific, consistent and as industrial as ever in the midfield last season and will again be expected to do much of the heavy lifting, alongside retuning premiership-winning on-baller James Boyd.

Clean-kicking captain Luke Habel, the reliable Justin Hoskin and former-skipper Trent Goodrem will also be integral to their sides success in 2020. The Central District backline will be kept busy attempting to contain lively forwards Josh Hone and Mark Evans, who booted 32 and 30 goals last season, respectively. Meanwhile, with key defensive duo Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans announcing their retirements, the Double Blues will usher-in a new era in the backline, but may have their work cut-out for them by the potent Menzel-brothers.

Central District and Sturt will do battle in the reserves competition at X-Convenience Oval on Sunday. The Bulldogs seconds managed nine wins last season to finish fourth and will benefit from a number of new signings, whilst Sturt were one of the leagues best, finishing the year with 12 wins. Draft hopefuls Corey Durdin (Central District) and James Borlase (Sturt) may feature for their respective clubs at reserves level. Later that afternoon, the under-18s will face-off. Both underage-sides struggled last season, with Centrals finishing last and Sturt seventh. Look out for Bulldogs small forward Isaiah Dudley and midfielder Lachlan Grubb and, for Sturt, on-ballers Mani Liddy and Tom Powell.

 

Woodville-West Torrens V South Adelaide

In the second game of a Saturday double-header, Woodville-West Torrens take on South Adelaide. Both sides narrowly missed out on finals berths last season, with the Eagles loosing four of their final five matches and South pondering what could have been after recording a pair of draws earlier on in the year. The Eagles claimed victory over the Panthers twice in 2019, by 42-points in round 8 and 3-points later in round 13. But South likely enter this clash as favourites, despite losing star Abe Davis to Sturt.

The Panthers recruited well in the off-season, signing long-kicking, former-Power half-backman Matthew Broadbent and promising midfielder James Rose from Sydney. However Rose will not take part in the Statewide Super League season. Although the Eagles didn’t land a big-name recruit, their depth will be bolstered by the return of hard-running wingman Kai Pudney and signing of Rhyan Mansell from North Launceston.

South co-captains Joel Cross and Matthew Rose are amongst the leagues best on-ballers and will go head-to-head with former-AFL listed midfielders Jordan Foote and Jesse Lonergan. Foote, in-particular, has emerged as arguably Woodville-West Torrens most valuable player after winning the best and fairest award in 2019. He averaged 24.7 disposals (at 84% efficiency), 4.6 marks and 6 tackles. The Panthers defensive unit, led by Broadbent and Joseph Haines must nullify the impact of dangerous tall-forward Jack Hayes and lively small James Rowe, who combined to boot 60 goals in 2019.

The two clubs will face each other in the under-18s on late Sunday morning at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, with the reserves to follow in the afternoon. The Eagles and Panthers have been two of the best sides in the underage competition previous years and their round one encounter is likely to be a close-one, with both sides featuring potential draftees, including South’s Zac Dumesny, Nick Kraemer and bottom-agers Jason Horne and Matthew RobertsTaj Schofield, Henry Smith and Lachlan Jones are likely types from the Eagles.

 

North Adelaide V West Adelaide

‘Westies’ and the Roosters will kick-off proceedings on Sunday, with both sides undoubtedly eager to bounce-back after disappointing 2019 campaigns. Having been forced to start last season with -4 premiership points, North Adelaide will be grateful to commence the new season on a level playing-field under recently-appointed senior coach Jacob Surjan. The Bloods ended the season on the bottom of the ladder but will no-doubt be eyeing off a scalp first up, having defeated the Roosters by two-points in round 13 last season for one of their only two victories.

West bid farewell to loyal veterans Chris Schmidt and Jono Beech but gained Sam Davidson and Jordon Boyle in the off-season. The Roosters were exceptionally busy in the signing-department, landing former-Hawk Billy Hartung, tough on-baller Andrew Moore, classy backman Harrison Wigg and regaining small forwards Robbie Young and Kym LeBois from St.Kilda and Carlton. Alongside their flashy recruits, Tom Schwarz, Jarrod Almond and co. are expected to get the red and white over this line in this encounter, but battle-hardened Bloods midfielders Tom Keough and Kaine Stevens will do their best to inspire West.

Stevens was once-again brilliant last season, averaging 27 disposals (at 88 per cent efficiency), 5.2 clearances and 4.8 tackles. Matchups against dangerous Roosters forwards Keenan Ramsey, Mitch Harvey and Alex Barns may prove critical to the end result. Watch-out for exciting young West Adelaide ruckman Riley Thilthorpe, who looks a likely first-round draftee.

The league and under-18 sides from North Adelaide and West Adelaide will meet on Saturday at Prospect Oval. Like their respective league sides, the Roosters and Bloods reserves struggled last season, finishing in the bottom-two spots. However, North Adelaide, in particular, will be hoping an increase in depth via strong recruiting can lift them to the heights of 2018.

West’s under 18s side was strong last season, recording 12 wins but failed to make the grand final. Watch for medium-forward Jye Sinderberry and wingman Bailey Chamberlain for the Bloods. Under-16s skipper Tyson Coe may also break-through for an under-18s game after the competition was cancelled for the year. Jamison Murphy and Tariek Newchurch are likely to feature prominently for the Roosters at either level.

 

Glenelg V Norwood

In what has been marketed as the game of the round, reigning premiers Glenelg face Norwood to close-out the opening weekend. Both sides are tipped to feature prominently come the pointy-end of the season. The clubs split their two contests in 2019, with Norwood claiming a narrow five-point victory in round one before Glenelg earned-back bragging rights with a dominant 46-point win in round 13. This match is brimming with talent across all zones of the ground, after both clubs added further to their talent in the off-season. In the heart of the midfield, reigning Magarey Medallist Luke Partington will be joined by tough-duo Jonty Scharenberg and Matthew Snook, classy wingman Marlon Motlop and recruits Billy Stretch and Jackson Edwards.

They will compete all-night against stars Lewis JohnstonMitch Grigg and Matthew Panos, reigning best and fairest winner Brad McKenzie, impressive youngster Cole Gerloff and experienced new signings Richard Douglas and Ryan Bastinac. The midfield-battle will be hotly contested and looms as the key to victory in this matchup. Following Jesse White’s retirement, the Bays big-men will be up-against-it, battling dominant ruckman Sam Baulderstone.

In attack, Glenelg will be looking to lace-out Ken Farmer medalist Liam McBean, x-factor medium-forward Luke Reynolds and newcomer Matthew Allen, whilst Peter Bampton and Dom Barry will again be the focal points in attack for the Redlegs. Captain Max Proud is set to anchor the Bays defence once-again, whilst Norwood look to cover the departures of retired defenders Jace Bode and Alex Georgiou.

The Redlegs ended a 21-year drought when they defeated Woodville-West Torrens to claim the 2019 Reserves premiership. They should be around mark again whilst the Tigers will be looking to improve upon a fifth-placed finish. The clubs face each other in the lower grades on Saturday at ACH Group Stadium. Glenelg’s Lewis Rayson and Cooper Horsnell are ones to watch at under-18s level, along with Norwood’s Henry NelliganNed Carey and Cooper Murley.