In the second of a three-part series, we look at the grand final triumphs in SA community football across the State and Broken Hill.
BY PETER ARGENT
Finishing second at the end of the minor round, Border Districts collected its first KNTFL flag since the two foundation competitions amalgamated in 1993.
The Eagles defeated Keith in the Qualifying final, before knocking over the top-of-the-table Mundulla Tigers in the second semi-final, gaining direct entry to the season decider.
Kingston Saints then defeated Mundulla in a preliminary final thriller by one point.
Both clubs went into the Grand Final at Naracoorte Oval looking for an inaugural KNT A grade flag.
The Saints were eight points up at half time, and two points separated the combatants at three quarter time, before Border Districts kicked 3.4 to 1.1 in the last quarter to spark riotous celebrations for the Eagles faithful, getting up 10.13 (73) to 8.8 (56).
Dylan Auciello, Dylan Schoenmakers, Nathan Naylor, Jameson Bower and Zac Richards were all sterling performers in the triumph.
Eagles co- captain Mark Quinn, with three goals, also was important.
For Kingston Jack Tapfield was their best, followed by Jarryd Hill, the Watts brothers Campbell and William Watts along with Ben Warner and Jed Castley.
For the first time in KNTFL history, three players shared the Virgo/Mail Medal.
The trio Daniel Bibby (Keith), Josh Gregg (Naracoorte) and Zac Richards (Border Districts) each finished on 23 votes.
Millicent Saints, who lost only two games for the season, but finished second to West Gambier, defeated the North Tigers for the 2023 Western Border crown at Blue Lake Sports Park on Saturday, September 16.
In another low scoring affair, the Saints won 5.10 (40) to 4.3 (27) by 13 points.
Hard working and skillful small 20-year-old Harry Tunkin was best on ground in Millicent’s win.
Josh Werchon, vice-captain Caleb Williams, Finn Grimes, Jack Verbena and Thomas Renzi were important to the win as well.
Dual sporting talent and Tigers captain Nick McInerney was their best, followed by Brett Shepherdson, Mackye Baron and Jordan Hollitt.
Played in front of a record crowd at the Port MacDonnell oval, the Kalangadoo Magpies A Grade defeated the Hatherleigh Eagles by a six point margin.
In a high quality contest, Kalangadoo kicked 10.10 (70) to Hatherleigh 10.4 (64).
Magpies Mitch Lowe walked away with the Grand Final best on ground honours.
Tye and Sam Mcmanus, James Pratt, Lachy Jones and Liam Hay were others that were heralded for Kalangadoo.
Brad Wight, Sam Gray, Jed Telfer, Darcy Bateman and Cameron Slape were the Eagles best, while former GWS Giant Tom Hutchesson kicked three goals for the vanquished.
Josh Woodall from Port Mac Demons collected the MSEFL Mail Medal ahead of Jed Telfer from Hatherleigh.
The Kangaroos dominance of the Silver City competition continued in 2023.
They won their fifth successive premiership since 2017, with seasons 2020 and 2021 (part way through the season) abandoned due to Covid.
This year the South side defeated West Broken Hill Robins in the season decider by a handsome 46-point margin, 15.11 (101) to 8.7 (55), although it was a decent contest across the first three terms.
Best on Ground in the grand final, Cody Schorn kicked eight goals, with his third bringing up the century for his season.
He played 11 games in this winter, and his efforts included hauls of 19 and 15 against Central and 12 against West.
Skipper Marc Purcell, half back Alex Johnston, Simon O’Brien, Dylan Browne and Riley Schorn all contributed strongly to the victory.
For West Hagen Grose, Paddric Attard, Brock Ellis and Jordan Tonkin with a pair of majors were their better performers.
Purcell also won a record seventh Mail Medal in the BHFL, along the Lionel Johnston Medal for the fourth time in 2023.
Underdogs Barmera Monash, in what was an ultra-defensive and tightly contested grand final, defeated the Renmark Rovers by nine points, 5.5 (35) to 3.8 (26) in good conditions at Waikerie Oval.
The Barmera Monash Roos had come from the first semi-final, defeating the Waikerie Magpies 8.5 (53) to 4.5 (29) in their initial final, before getting over Loxton North 6.13 (49) to 4.3 (27) in the penultimate game.
In the Grand Final, key defender Michael Mock was given best in ground honours.
Sam De Michele, Jack Sullivan, Jake Smith, Jameson Whitbourne and Max Pietrolaj were also among the Roos best, while Aedan Lyon kicked three goals.
For the Rovers, former Central District footballer from the RSMU Hawks Josh Vater, this year’s Medalist Dan Woolford, Zac Gartery, Brody Rover, Tim Woolford and Jaryd Rowe stood up.
Dan Woolford won the Riverland’s Mail and Whillas Medal with 21 votes, two ahead of Joel Worsfold from Loxton North, with Barmera Monash’s Sam Butterworth third with 16 votes.
Undefeated all year, the Jervios Bluds collected the 2023 flag in the expanded River Murray competition, defeating an inaccurate Mypolonga in the League Grand Final by just nine points, 10.13 (73) to 8.16 (64) at LeMessurier Oval.
Peter Zarantonello, Anthony Long and Hayden Schulz led the way for the Bluds.
The trio of Casey Robins, young talent Lachlan Thomas who kicked two goals and Chaz Baltussen all had an impact.
Bluds co-captain and former Glenelg 2019 premiership forward Josh Scott kicked three goals in the win.
Jack Wilkins, Luke Wagenknecht, Stephen Mills, the consistent Patrick Davies and Lochlan Gotch were the Tigers leading performers.
Coorong on-baller Alex Stidiford took out the River Murray Football League’s highest individual honour for 2023, winning the Mail Medal for the league’s best and fairest player in a glittering ceremony at the Bridges Event Centre
Stidiford finished strongly to secure 24 votes, with Southern Mallee and state country player Josh Smithson second on 16. Imperials’ Jack Penfold was third on 15.
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