By Peter Argent
In one of the few country competitions that still has a round remaining in its regular season this weekend, finals spots are still up for grabs.
South Clare plays Brinkworth Spalding Redhill (BSR) this Saturday for a second-place spot, with the Tigers needing to have a big win to have any chance. Meanwhile North Clare will secure fourth spot and a finals berth if they beat the bottom-placed Mintaro-Manoora.
“If we lose on Saturday and RSMU wins by 20 goals they can sneak above us,” North Clare Roosters coach Peter Cook said.
“We’ve been really solid in the second half of the season. Dallas Hill has been a star for us in attack and our forwards can be match winners.
“Tom Stevens produced a really consistent year in our midfield. Sam Panoho has been a pillar at full back.
“Our young blokes, 18-year-olds Charlie Helbig, Charlie McInnes and centre half forward Tyson Francis are starting to influence games.
“Northern Eastern is a pretty even and intriguing competition at the moment.”
In round 15 games, South Clare had a strong win over the top of the table Blyth-Snowtown Cats on Clare Oval
First-year coach Scott Brand coming across from Southern Flinders has got the Demons playing strong football.
Ben Pearse was best on ground followed by Matt Bennie and former SANFL Eagle Daniel Minney. Defenders Matthew Allen and Brendan Barton also played significant roles.
Alex Falconer kicked four goals in attack for the Dees.
Caleb Lloyd was the Cats’ best, followed by ruckman Will Pratt and Nick Barr.
Tyson Salter and former Carlton-listed local Cameron Giles were also serviceable while Dylan Foulis kicked two goals.
Last year’s premiers the BSR Tigers had an emphatic 61-point win which virtually finished the Southern Saints season at Eudunda Oval.
Isaac Muller kicked five goals in his best on ground display while 2011 Woodville West Torrens premiership player Phil Raymond and Mail Medalist in the Adelaide Plains Jordan Clements were also impressive.
Alex Morgan, back from a long-term knee injury, kicked four goals and Lachlan Willesden chimed in with three.
Better players for the Saints included former 2012 All-Australian country ruckman Luke Wells, Ben Perkins, diminutive mid-fielder Jack Wilkins and Todd Mosey.
Both Nick Schmidt and Leigh Kimpton with three goals deserved mentions as well.
The RSMU Hawks travelled up the Barrier Highway to Manoora and beat the Eagles by a massive 79 point margin.
Youngster Max Roocke was best, followed by ruckman Justin Schahinger, defender Patrick Browne and veteran Matthew Naumann.
Former Mail Medalist Patrick Clark finished with five goals.
For ‘Min-Man’, John Sale was best followed by Billy Sandow and his brother, forward Lachie Sandow, with three goals.
On the back of 13 goals between Nick Prokopec (seven goals) and Dallas Hill (six), North Clare had a big 77-point win over the Burra Booborowie Hallett (BBH) Rams at Burra Oval. Already 43 points up at half-time, they kept the foot on the accelerator.
Tommy Stevens was best on ground followed by classy defender Lachlan Jaeschke while Cohen Pettit and Tyson Francis also had an impact.
Kyle Crompton, who’s been ultra-consistent across his dozen games with the Rams, was again their best player, followed by Lachlan McInnis, Guy Hutchinson and Matthew Hamilton.
In the final round of the Riverland Football League, minor premiers Waikerie had a comfortable six-goal win over Renmark in an away game.
The Magpies, coached by Nat Salter, started well and kicked five goals to one the opening term and extended that advantage in the third quarter.
Tommy Truscott kicked four goals for the Pies, while Steve Braun was best on ground.
Jake Spencely, Ben Venning, Clark McCatty and Steven Hausler also play significant roles in the strong victory.
For the Rovers, Lachlan Lellmann lead the way followed by Timmy Woolford, Jacob Neary, Fraser Sampson and Zachary Gartery.
Berri hosted Barmera Monash and found the Roos too strong, going down by 39 points. This was despite Berri having a 28-point lead at half-time.
Eddie O’Connor was best on ground followed by James Edwards, Adam Maschotta and Matthew Min, who kicked a game-high four goals.
For the Demons, Brad Rosenzweig, also an accomplished cricketer, Tyson Renshaw, Brody Thomson and the evergreen Peter Safralidis were gallant against the odds.
It took until the final game of the season for Loxton to enjoy a break-through first win of the year, defeating neighbours Loxton North Panthers by eight points in an exciting come-from-behind victory.
The Tigers kept their opponents scoreless is in the final quarter and kicked 3.4 themselves.
Gregarious small Ben Yeomans was the star of the show, followed by Ross Romeo, Craig Fisher, Lachlan Bradley and Nick Uren.
For Loxton North, who still finished in fourth position and will play major round footy, Joel Worsfold was best followed by Michael Scott, Willie Lehmann, Scott Meneghetti and Jordan Smith.
Across at the Riverland Independent competition, this Saturday at Cobdogla Oval the minor premiers, Sedan Cambrai, take on the Paringa Swans for the ultimate prize, the 2019 Independent A Grade flag.
Last year the Swans snatched the title in a thriller against the Magpies at Paringa Oval by two points.
This will be the third successive grand final that Paringa will play in after going down to Browns Well in 2017.
Sedan Cambrai must go in as favourites after dropping just one game during the minor round and winning their semi-final by a comfortable 37 point margin.
Magpies players Jacob Grieger, Harry Clarkson Kieren Stone, Ryan Johns and Jack Schultz have all produced impressive campaigns.
Scott Eichler has proved to be a solid target in attack with 52 goals, while Grieger (31) and Tyson Matthews (25) are other avenues in attack.
Paringa finished second and will come into the grand final with a comfortable 39 point win over Wunkar in the preliminary final last week.
Sam and Isaac Frahn have led the way for the Swans, along with Jono Ward, Harry Ashwell and Peter Siddall.
Dean Hill has kicked 65 goals, while Joel Watson has snaffled 25 as a secondary option and Sam Frahn has kicked 21.
Back in the season opener, Sedan Cambrai had a comfortable 32 point win, but in the round eight match it was a much closer affair, with the Magpies getting up by less than a straight kick.
The reigning premiers will be the underdogs, but it is a grand final…and anything can happen.