THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) returned over the weekend, seeing matches played out between all eight teams across the three divisions, with the competition barring Adelaide and Port Adelaide this season. In the league division, Glenelg just held on for a daring win over Norwood, while North Adelaide came away with a quality win over West Adelaide to kick off the season.
Sturt v. Central District
League: Sturt 8.3 (51) defeated Central District 5.6 (36)
Sturt made a strong start to the season on Saturday, defeating Central by 15 points at the Adelaide Oval. Sturt fielded seven debutants in the clash after Jake Sutcliffe (illness) and Sam Colquhoun (hamstring) were late withdrawals. The new-look side was strong in the clearances from the outset with ruckman Daniel Fahey-Sparks (52 hitouts) providing first use to midfielders James Battersby (26 disposals, 11 clearances), Zane Kirkwood (21 disposals) and youngster Casey Voss (16 disposals, six clearances). The Blues kicked the first five goals of the game, including three from exciting forward Ash Johnson.
Central worked their way back into the game and ended up dominating the disposals 289-234, marks 107-39 and tackles 97-68. Unfortunately for them, the early deficit proved too difficult to come back from, and Sturt were more efficient with the ball inside forward 50. With Sutcliffe, Colquhoun, premiership wingman Steven Slimming (ankle) and former Port Adelaide livewire Aidyn Johnson (suspension) looking to return next week, Sturt coach Nathan Grima will have his hands full at the selection table.
Reserves: Central District 7.11 (53) defeated Sturt 5.9 (39)
Central’s Reserves side started the year with a comfortable victory over Sturt by 14 points. The final score did not reflect the Bulldogs’ dominance in this game, as they led by 32 points at three-quarter-time before Sturt piled on three goals to none in the last term.
Under 18s: Sturt 14.13 (97) defeated Central District 7.6 (48)
Sturt were far too strong in the Under 18s, getting over the line by 49 points at X Convenience Oval. Central kicked just one goal before half time and trailed by 49 points at the main break. AFL Academy Squad members Mani Liddy (33 disposals, 11 clearances) and Tom Powell (33 disposals, seven clearances) were both impressive for the Double Blues, as was Morgan Ferres (15 disposals, three goals). Lewis Cowham and Austin McDonald both worked hard for the Bulldogs.
Woodville-West Torrens v. South Adelaide
League: South Adelaide 11.8 (74) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 10.8 (68)
Debutant Beau McCreery was the hero for South Adelaide, lifting his side over the line against Woodville-West Torrens in a close encounter. When scores were level late in the final term, McCreery ran down former Port Adelaide player Jimmy Toumpas and converted a goal from long range, before showing his speed one minute later to kick another from the goal square. Although Eagles veteran Angus Poole was able to bring the margin back to six points at the 28 minute mark, South were able to hold on.
Dual Magarey Medallist Joel Cross was outstanding for the Panthers, finishing with 34 disposals, 12 clearances and four tackles. Ex-Port Adelaide defender Matthew Broadbent was steady in his first game for the club with 26 disposals, six marks and seven tackles, while potential AFL draftee Zac Dumesny showed promise early in his SANFL League debut. For the Eagles, Jordan Foote collected 21 disposals, seven tackles and five inside 50s, and the Hayes brothers kicked five goals between them in an impressive display. The Eagles will look to bounce back next week against Sturt, while the Panthers will take on the Tigers.
Reserves: Woodville-West Torrens 12.4 (76) defeated South Adelaide 10.8 (68)
Last year’s Reserves grand finalists Woodville-West Torrens got their season off to an ideal start, winning by eight points against the Panthers at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. South led for the majority of the contest but the Eagles ran over the top in the final term.
Under 18s: South Adelaide 10.12 (72) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 9.8 (62)
The Panthers had a nice come from behind win in the under 18s, getting over the line by ten points. Max Clifton had 26 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles for the Panthers, while Nicholas Kraemer was tough at the contest with nine tackles. 191cm midfielder Caleb Poulter kicked off his season in style, racking up an imposing 34 disposals, ten tackles, seven clearances, six inside 50s and a goal for the Eagles. He is definitely a prospect to watch in 2020.
North Adelaide v. West Adelaide
League: North Adelaide 15.6 (96) defeated West Adelaide 10.7 (67)
Lewis Hender helped North Adelaide start the season with a bang, kicking seven goals en route to a 29-point victory over the Bloods on Sunday. Hender took nine marks including an early mark of the year contender in the dominant performance. He made the most of some silver service from the Roosters’ experienced midfield made up of former AFL-listed players Harrison Wigg (27 disposals, nine marks), Andrew Moore (25 disposals, seven tackles) and Billy Hartung (19 disposals, four inside 50s). North were prevalent in the clearances (39-32) and tackles (72-53).
While the Bloods were able to regularly get the ball inside forward 50, they did struggle to keep it there as the day went on. Jordon Boyle (27 disposals, eight clearances, six inside 50s) was a standout in his first game for West, while Dallas Willsmore (25 disposals, 11 marks, six tackles) worked hard all day. Potential number one pick Riley Thilthorpe had ten disposals, five tackles and five hitouts in his first game of the season.
Reserves: West Adelaide 14.2 (86) defeated North Adelaide 7.13 (55)
An accurate West Adelaide outfit proved too good in the Reserves, kicking just two behinds in their 31-point win. Kyle Kirk, Mitch Duval and Austin Forbes were impressive performers for the Bloods and will be pushing for League selection next week.
Under 18s: North Adelaide 8.10 (58) defeated West Adelaide 7.4 (46)
North Adelaide were too good in the Under 18s, defeating the Bloods by 12 points at Prospect Oval. West led for most of the game but North ran over the top in a frantic final term. AFL Academy Squad members Tariek Newchurch (three goals) and Jamison Murphy (26 disposals, four tackles) stood out in their first game of the season, as did Kallis Freer (27 disposals, four marks). Bailey Chamberlain was great for the Bloods with 28 disposals, five tackles and five clearances.
Glenelg v. Norwood
League: Glenelg 11.10 (76) defeated Norwood 10.13 (73)
Glenelg have started their premiership defence on the right foot, defeating Norwood by three points in a thriller at Adelaide Oval. The Redlegs got out to an early lead but the Tigers clawed their way back with an outstanding third term, kicking three goals to zero. This set up a final term with multiple momentum swings and lead changes until reigning Magarey Medallist Luke Partington kicked a long-range set shot to give Glenelg the victory.
Carl Nicholson was arguably best on ground for Glenelg, finishing with 21 disposals, eight inside 50s, six marks and a goal. Defensive recruit Luke Parks was brilliant in his first game for the club with 16 disposals and ten marks, several of which were intercepted. Max Proud was also great in defence with six marks and four tackles, while Liam McBean was his usual dominant-self up forward with four goals. For the Redlegs, Matthew Panos worked hard for his 21 disposals and two goals, former Crow Richard Douglas (20 disposals, seven tackles) played well in his first game since retiring from AFL, and veteran ruckman Sam Baulderstone displayed some brilliant ruck craft amongst his 41 hitouts. Norwood’s defence held up well all day and can consider themselves unlucky not to come out with the two points. They will hope to welcome Ryan Bastinac to the side for next week’s clash against the Roosters, while Glenelg will take on the Panthers in what should be an enthralling matchup.
Reserves: Glenelg 12.7 (79) defeated Norwood 8.9 (57)
Reigning Reserves premiers Norwood fell in their first match of the season to the Tigers by 22 points. It is a major scalp for Glenelg’s Reserves side and should give them great confidence going into next week.
Under 18s: Glenelg 12.12 (84) defeated Norwood 5.10 (40)
Glenelg were also too strong in the Under 18s, defeating Norwood by 44 points. The Redlegs failed to hit the front all game as they struggled to get the ball into their front half, losing the inside 50s 34-53. Potential draftee Luke Edwards collected 22 disposals, five clearances and six tackles for the Tigers, while Luke Pedlar (28 disposals, six tackles, six inside 50s) also impressed. Cooper Murley was the sole AFL Academy Squad member to play for the Redlegs in this game, finishing with 20 disposals and three tackles. Matthew Dnistriansky worked hard for his 25 disposals, ten rebound 50s and nine marks.
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