Norwood has got one hand on the minor premiership after responding to an early Eagles surge to win by 34 points at The Parade on Friday night.
Now three premiership points – plus percentage – clear at the top of the Macca’s League ladder, the Redlegs have all but sewn up top spot and a direct passage to the Second Semi-Final with just three rounds remaining.
With 14 more scoring shots, 73 more disposals, 54 more marks and 11 more inside 50s, the hosts did an admirable job of controlling the play after quarter-time by denying the ball to their opponents.
Even with one less fit player – experienced defender Alex Georgiou injured his leg in the first term – the Redlegs were able to withstand every challenge the Eagles threw at them.
And the first challenge, which resulted in the visitors boasting a 5.0 to 1.2 advantage on the scoreboard after Matt Goldsworthy kicked truly 16 minutes into the opening quarter, was significant.
Seeking to regain top spot after slipping up against Sturt in Round 15, Michael Godden’s men came out with serious intent to open up a 22-point lead before the Redlegs set about reducing the margin.
Two of Simon Phillips’ five first-half goals came either side of the first change to bring the deficit back to just three points before his versatile team-mate Cam Shenton gave Norwood the lead just eight minutes into the second stanza.
The third quarter was when the Legs made their move, kicking 4.3 to 2.1 en route to earning a 27-point lead at the final break.
Even when star teenager Jack Lukosius reduced the margin to only 13 points nine minutes in, Norwood answered in emphatic fashion within 90 seconds.
Premiership ruckman Sam Baulderstone put the ball down to Mitch Grigg – celebrating his 100th Macca’s League match – who took a bounce from the centre clearance and found Ed Smart all alone inside 50m.
Smart converted from his straight forward 30m set shot to push the buffer back out to 19 points before the Redlegs continued to strangle the Eagles into skill errors through the corridor.
Norwood’s significant contributors were abundant, with Grigg collecting a game-high 32 disposals and a goal while Phillips’ five goals came at a pivotal point in the match to help swing the momentum in favour of the home side.
Matthew Nunn continues to make a name for himself in the midfield, registering 30 disposals and eight tackles while Declan Hamilton has also been enjoying a form surge, finishing with 28 touches and 12 marks.
The only negative for the Legs was the leg injury to former captain Georgiou, who was on crutches wearing a moon boot after half-time.
The Eagles now have three more minor round matches to work on their deficiencies before September, with the first quarter an example they can match it with the Redlegs for a period, now the challenge is to sustain it for four quarters.
Midfielder James Boyd led the way on the stats sheet with 30 disposals and a goal as he was the only Eagle to reach 20 disposals.
Classy Jared Petrenko kicked two goals from seven disposals as he played his first Macca’s League match for the season while Lukosius finished with 14 disposals, five marks and his third term major.
NORWOOD 3.4 9.5 13.8 16.16 (112)
EAGLES 6.1 7.4 9.5 12.6 (78)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Norwood: Grigg 32, Nunn 30, Hamilton 28, Shenton, L. Johnston 25, Panos 24, Glenn, Jefferies 23, McKenzie 21.
Eagles: Boyd 30, Rowland 19, Lewis 18, J. Hayes, Sinor 16, Sharrad, Gray, Haylock, Thompson 15.
GOALS – Norwood: Phillips 5, Glenn, A. Wilson, Panos 2, Abbott, Smart, Shenton, Wilkins, Grigg.
Eagles: N. Hayes, Petrenko 2, Boyd, Hall, J. Hayes, Lewis, Lukosius, Goldsworthy, Haylock, Borholm.
CHIEF SANFL WRITER