STURT PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON CENTRAL

Published on: Sep 10 2017 | Author: Zac Milbank |

Sturt has booked a berth in the Preliminary Final after outlasting a brave Central District by just seven points in the First Semi-Final at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

Despite leading at every change, the Double Blues were made to work hard to keep their season alive after the Bulldogs continued to surge at the back end of each quarter.

Just when Marty Mattner’s men appeared to opening up a defining margin amid the physically taxing conditions, the Dogs refused to lie down by using their trademark tenacity under premiership coach Roy Laird.

Sturt finally looked to have shrugged the Bulldogs off after kicking the opening three goals of the final quarter, with Ben Hansen capping off a five-minute purple patch from veteran Scott McMahon by kicking a set shot from 40m.

But Central came right back into the contest again with Sam Milne and Nick Holman kicking majors from set shots to trim the margin to seven points entering time-on.

Classy Josh Glenn nearly kicked a ripping goal from 55m on the run only to be denied by a desperate lunge from Sturt defender Tom Harms, who ensured the margin would stay more than one kick.

Sturt was able to hang on in the desperate final minutes, ensuring its premiership defence remains in tact on the back of a gutsy performance having lost last Saturday’s Qualifying Final to Port Adelaide.

Former Crows rookie James Battersby was the chief instigator for Sturt in the centre square with 29 disposals and seven tackles while he was helped by the return of Aidan Riley, who returned from a neck injury to make his presence felt at the clearances with 20 disposals and nine tackles.

Linkmen Steven Slimming, Matt Crocker and Guy Page were important for the Double Blues while Josh Hone made the most of his chances to kick three goals from 12 disposals while teenager Josh Dodd (1o disposals and 2 goals) looked equally dangerous in attack.

Central District’s sensational sequence of wins to qualify for the major round came to a grinding halt after winning last Saturday’s Elimination Final in emphatic fashion.

Glenn’s impressive finals series was capped off by three goals and 18 disposals while Holman (19 disposals and two goals), Chris Jansen (24 touches) and Travis Schiller (25 disposals) found plenty of the ball.

Dogs ruckman Darcy Fort continued his fine finish to the season with 17 disposals, 32 hitouts and a goal while Sam Milne was constructive with the majority of his 16 possessions.

FIRST SEMI-FINAL SCOREBOARD

Sturt  3.4  6.4  10.6  13.8 (86)
Central  2.4  4.8  9.10  11.13 (79)

BEST – Sturt: Battersby, Riley, Kirkwood, Colquhoun, Hone, Slimming, Stephens
Central: Glenn, Holman, D. Fort, T. Schiller, Milne, Jansen.

GOALS – Sturt: Hone 3, Hansen, Dodd, Beard 2, Osborn, Read, F. Evans, McMahon.
Central: Glenn, Butcher 3, Holman 2, D. Fort, Milne, Hoskin.

UMPIRES – Toby Medlin, Michael Schramm, Rowan Hundertmark.

CROWD –  9029 at Adelaide Oval.

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