By ZAC MILBANK
Woodville-West Torrens took a stranglehold on the Statewide Super League minor premiership after blitzing West Adelaide by 76 points at Hisense Stadium on Friday night.
The Eagles will almost certainly finish in top spot as North Adelaide must now win its final two matches while needing Jade Sheedy’s charges to lose to Central in Round 14.
And even then, the Eagles boast a percentage advantage in excess of eight per cent, nearing the major round.
Despite being without five star exclusions from the side which easily accounted for Glenelg in Round 12, the visitors did as they pleased in leading at every change en route to nearly reaching the 400-disposal mark.
Matt Goldsworthy, Rhyan Mansell, Jesse Lonergan, Jake Von Bertouch and Jimmy Toumpas were all sidelined with minor injuries but that didn’t prevent the Eagles from producing a polished display as small forwards James Rowe and Sam Lowson booted nine goals between them.
Rowe, now leading the race for the Ken Farmer Medal, boasts a three-goal advantage on Glenelg’s Liam McBean at the top of the goal kicking leaderboard after his bag of five gave him 37 for the season.
Late-season VFL recruit Lowson hadn’t hit the scoreboard in his opening two SANFL appearances but that soon changed when he snapped truly from 30m during time-on of the third quarter.
The Coburg goalsneak then had another in as many minutes when he produced an eye-catching finish in the clip below, knocking the ball into his own path before kicking it out of mid-air.
But as Rowe and Lowson created the scoreboard pressure, it was the Eagles’ other VFL signing – former Geelong co-captain James Tsitas – who was burning up the midfield with 39 disposals, 11 clearances, nine tackles and a goal.
Joseph Sinor continued his consistent season resurgence with 30 disposals and five clearances while Chris Hall and Kai Pudney ran hard all night on the wings.
Former Crows SANFL defender Pierce Seymour has also proven to be an astute signing by Sheedy, repelling many attacks on the last line and further up the field to tally 27 disposals and six marks.
Such was the Eagles even dominance – they led inside 50s by 33 to 12 at half-time before finishing 62 to 25 – they could afford for the Hayes brothers to register just 11 disposals and a goal each.
Northern Territory debutant Ben Jungfer impressed in his first League game with 19 disposals and five tackles, his final one a crunching sleeper-hold on West’s Isaac Johnson despite it coming in the 25th minute of the final term.
If things weren’t tough enough for West in the first half, it became more difficult in the third term when it lost two players to match-ending injuries.
Former Tiger Josh Koster appeared to strain his hamstring again, while key defender Pat Levicki had to be stretchered from the ground in the 12th minute after injuring his knee deep in the south-western pocket.
The ex-Norwood backman finished the game on crutches with ice strapped to his knee as he prepares to undergo scans to determine the extent of the damage.
After managing just one goal to Johnson in the opening term, the hosts trailed by 37 points at the main change despite a pair of majors to Ouyen United recruit Tom Morrish.
By the time Morrish wobbled through his third on the bounce for the game 14 minutes into the final quarter, the Bloods trailed by 70 points.
Tireless Kaine Stevens led the way with 32 disposals five tackles and five clearances while Brett Turner appears to have cemented his place as a big-bodied midfielder with 25 touches and five clearances.
Premiership midfielder Josh Schiller made a successful return from injury to rack up 25 possessions, seven clearances and six tackles in his first League game since Round 4.
Mature-age ruckman Stuart Taverner tallied 13 disposals and five tackles in just his second game of League football in replacing late withdrawal Andre Parrella while Hamish Ellem kicked an impressive goal on the run during the fourth term.