South Australia Country has regained the respect it was searching for with a gutsy five-point win against Western Australia Country at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday evening.
Desperate to atone for last year’s 40-point loss to the Sandgropers across the Nullarbor, the Croweaters responded positively in the second half after trailing by seven points at the main break.
Led by vice-captain Simon Berkefeld – who won the Barry Stringer Medal as SA’s best player – the hosts managed to restrict the visitors to just three behinds during the third term.
And while WA Country came hard with four goals in the final term, SA Country protected its lead valiantly in the dying stages of the contest to give coach Luke Duncan his first success since taking over from Steve Lubcke for the 2017 clash.
Experienced SA Country campaigner Xavier Watson also produced a strong showing to display why he was chosen as joint vice-captain with Berkefeld while former North Adelaide skipper Todd Miles led from the front in his role as SA Country captain.
Ex-Roosters spearhead Darren Shillabeer was the only multiple goal kicker for the Croweaters, who spread the workload among nine goal scorers.
Not surprisingly, WA’s best performer was Sandover Medallist Rory O’Brien, with the ball magnet collecting the Terry House Medal to go with his team high three goals.
SA COUNTRY 3.4 4.7 7.12 10.12 (72)
WA COUNTRY 2.2 6.2 6.5 10.7 (67)
BEST – SA Country: Berkefeld, Watson, Miles, Hutchesson, Aisea Raikiwasa, Laurie.
WA Country: O’Brien, Outridge, Crichton, Andrews, Haydon, Langdon.
GOALS – SA Country: Shillabeer 2, Gallio, Davis, Rusca, Ellis, Berkefeld, Simounds, Laurie, Kemp.
WA Country: O’Brien 3, Holmes, Kohlmann 2, Crichton, Harvey, Forrest.
BARRY STRINGER MEDAL – Simon Berkefeld (Penola)
TERRY HOUSE MEDAL – Rory O’Brien
South Australia Country is on the hunt to reclaim its ascendancy against WA Country at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Having won four matches in succession from 2013 to 2016, the Croweaters came off second best when the Sandgropers won comfortably by 40 points at Fremantle Oval last year.
Leading by nine points at half-time, SA was completely outclassed by the hosts who banged on 8.2 in the premiership quarter to set up their first victory in the last five meetings between the two rivals.
But this year’s visitors can expect a fierce response from the men wearing the cherished red guernsey, when the two sides clash from 4.18pm in the curtain-raiser for the AFL contest between Adelaide and Melbourne.
Coached for the second year in succession by Luke Duncan, SA’s team will be made up largely of those selected in the Team of the Carnival at this month’s 2018 MAC SA Country Championships held in Renmark.
Former North Adelaide captain Todd Miles will be the skipper for the Croweaters, with loyal SA Country performers Xavier Watson and Simon Berkefeld acting as his deputy.
Other players of note include Reserves Magarey Medallist Luke Teasdale and ex-Roosters’ key forward Darren Shillabeer, together with the Raikiwasa brothers – Aisea and Aseri – who will man the backline.
The best player for SA will be awarded the Barry Stringer Medal while the strongest performer for WA will take home the Terry House Medal.
1 – Matthew Tonkin (Kybybolite)
4 – Luke Teasdale (Berri)
5 – Clinton Gallio (Millicent)
6 – Ben Davis (Encounter Bay)
7 – David Wright (Blues)
8 – Jesse Stringer (Central Eyre)
9 – Sam Alexopoulos (Willunga)
10 – Steve Rusca (Mintaro Manoora)
11 – Xavier Watson (United Yeelanna) (Vice-Captain)
12 – Tom Hutchesson (Millicent)
13 – Brett Ellis (McLaren)
14 – Mitchell Johnson (Flagstaff Hill)
15 – Scott Merrett (Penola)
17 – Simon Berkefeld (Penola) (Vice-Captain)
18 – Jesse Kemp (Kimba Districts)
19 – Jordon Hind (Tumby Bay)
20 – Sam Pfeiffer (Mt Barker)
21 – Aseri Raikiwasa (Nuriootpa Rovers)
22 – Aisea Raikiwasa (Nuriootpa Rovers)
23 – Ben Simounds (Keith)
24 – Billy Laurie (Keith)
25 – Todd Miles (Barossa District) (Captain)
26 – Darren Shillabeer (Barossa District)
1 – Jace Cormack
2 – Rory O’Brien
3 – Jesse Crichton
4 – Andrew Haydon
5 – Edward Dann
6 – CJ Oakley
7 – James Turner
8 – Jordan Delbridge
9 – Matthew Outridge
10 – Josh Bootsma
11 – Liam McKenna
12 – James Venturini
13 – Daniel Acres
14 – Guy Langdon
15 – Rob Forrest
16 – Dylan Ross
17 – Mitchell Gill
18 – Jamie Koric
19 – Leigh Kohlmann
20 – Brad Holmes
21 – Alex Moreno
22 – Mitchell Andrews
CHIEF SANFL WRITER