Woodville-West Torrens made the most of its chances to edge out South Adelaide by just five points in the Under-18 Torrens University Cup Grand Final at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Despite the Panthers having their noses in front for much of the second half, it was the Shane Reardon-coached Eagles who produced the clean football required in the dying stages of a title-decider to claim top honours.
Down by seven points when South bigman Damon Freitag kicked his set shot four minutes into the last quarter, impressive Eagle Jackson Mead brought the margin back to a point when he ran into an open goal from 20m.
It was the third of four game-breaking majors for Mead, who fittingly won the Alan Stewart Medal as the best player on the ground with 21 disposals and seven tackles.
When the son of Power great Darren Mead booted his fourth goal on his left foot under pressure from 40m out, the Eagles led by nine points with less than six minutes to play.
And it was this passage of play, which culminated in Mead’s fourth goal, which typified the Eagles’ clean hands in the clinches as Martin Frederick and Kai Pudney also had important touches in the vital chain.
But Mark Clayton’s Panthers refused to lie down as they surged the ball inside their attacking 50m arc, Zac Dumesny, Luke Bogle and Reece Milsom all having shots on goal to no avail inside the last five minutes.
This left the Eagles to celebrate their third Under-18 premiership, adding this year’s Torrens Uni Cup trophy to the ones from 2012 and 2013 already in the cabinet at Oval Avenue.
Pudney and Daniel Pratico – 17 disposals and three goals – were also strong with their performances for the Eagles while midfielder Jarrod Miller and ruckman Sam Michael also had positive moments.
Chasing their first Under-18 flag, the Panthers were well served by Bogle, who kicked an impressive goal in the fourth term to go with his 28 disposals as well as key midfielders Tom Sparrow and Hayden Sampson, who 48 possessions between them.
Classy South goalsneak Jake Tarca loomed as the likely Alan Stewart Medallist heading into the final change, kicking four goals and finishing with 16 touches and seven marks.
EAGLES 3.2 6.3 8.10 13.11 (89)
SOUTH 3.2 7.3 9.5 12.12 (84)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Eagles: Pudney 32, Mead 21, Pratico, Miller 17, Michael, Carter 14, Schoenberg, Pickett 12.
South: Bogle 28, Sparrow 25, Sampson 23, Tarca 16, Beeche, Douglass 12.
GOALS – Eagles: Mead 4, Pratico 3, Beecken, Armfield, Pickett, Miller, McNeil, Michael.
South: Tarca 4, Wood, Bogle, Sparrow, Colwell, Dumesny, Sladojevic, Whitbread, Freitag.
ALAN STEWART MEDAL – Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens)
UMPIRES – J. Noakes, A. Reardon, J. Millar.
CHIEF SANFL WRITER