By ZAC MILBANK
Glenelg hung tough to hold on for a character-building two-point victory against a fast-finishing North Adelaide at Prospect Oval on Sunday.
Needing to bank the premiership points to maintain their spot in the top four ahead of fifth-placed Norwood, the Tigers showed plenty of grit to fend off the Roosters, who took three quarters to click into gear.
The Bays led at every change as they made the most of having the wind in the first and third terms, while also managing to kick three goals against it during the second stanza.
Leading by 27 points at three-quarter time, Mark Stone’s men were forced to defend grimly throughout the final quarter as several players limped on and off the interchange bench.
Glenelg’s Billy Stretch had the opportunity to extend the margin to 33 points with his set shot two minutes into the fourth term but after his miss, North took little more than a minute to engineer a vital two-goal turnaround with a stoppage snap from vice-captain Andrew Moore.
North captain Alex Spina then pounced on an errant Glenelg kick from defence, neatly gathering on the half-volley before nailing his shot on the run from 50m.
Suddenly, the deficit was back to 16 points and the Rooster faithful was in full voice as they sensed their team gathering momentum for a late surge.
Speedy Keanu Miller was causing Glenelg headaches in the dying stages as his team pushed forward at all costs, the former Magpie cutting the margin to 10 points with his goal on the run to the Farmer End.
Miller was at it again in constructing a goal to Lewis Hender, who booted his third major from a 15m set shot – putting North within two points 16 minutes into the final quarter.
It felt like Glenelg needed a miracle to hold on given Neil Vea Vea had spent the middle two terms on the bench only to return hurt to create a contest in attack in the final term.
Premiership forward Marlon Motlop – playing across half-back – and Tiger debutant Tom Condon also limped onto the interchange bench only to return in the dying stages.
Remarkably, Hender’s goal would be the final score of the game as Glenelg showed plenty of spirit to continually repel the Roosters as they trailed the hosts with a 51-40 inside 50m count.
Glenelg’s Magarey Medallist Luke Partington made the majority of his disposals count to tally 26 with his seven tackles and nine clearances.
His centering ball in the third term to Carl Nicholson, who out-marked two Roosters in the middle of the ground, resulted in a snap goal for Matt Allen.
Partington also forced the final turnover of the game in the last minute at half-forward, ensuring the last siren would sound with the ball bottled up at the top of Glenelg’s goal square.
Jack Oatey Medallist Matthew Snook was also ferocious at the stoppages with 26 disposals while also laying 12 of Glenelg’s 82 tackles for the afternoon to set the tone for his side.
Nicholson and Allen were also influential while first-year player Callum Park continues to look poised at League level, registering 18 disposals and seven marks.
Premiership forward Luke Reynolds was another strong contributor, playing a vital defensive role in the fourth term and producing a stunning smother on the boundary line.
Defender Luke Parks took several eye-catching intercept marks while holding firm in the final term with captain Max Proud on the last line of defence for the Bays.
Darcy Bailey made the most of his chances with three opportunist goals while Sturt recruit Tom Condon made a promising club debut for Glenelg with 15 disposals and two nice set shot goals.
North’s Harrison Wigg showed resilience to finish as his team’s leading disposal winner with 29, shrugging off plenty of close attention from disciplined Tiger Jonty Scharenberg.
Jarred Allmond collected 28 disposals and kicked a fine snap shot goal from the boundary in the second term while Moore had 26 touches and five clearances to go with his fourth-term major.
Former Crows rookie Ben Jarman played arguably his best League game for the Roosters, showing plenty of dash in his new role off half-back to tally 23 disposals.
North forward Lewis Hender tried to provide a spark for his team at several junctures, finishing as his side’s only multiple goal scorer with three.
But ultimately the Roosters were outclassed for three quarters before leaving their admirable run at the Tigers too late in the fourth quarter.
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