By ZAC MILBANK
Woodville-West Torrens has successfully defended its crown against South Adelaide after working hard for a 23-point win in the 2019 Torrens University Cup U18 Grand Final at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Seemingly in control of the contest with a 28-point lead at half-time, the Eagles were forced to respond when the Panthers engineered a third-quarter surge immediately after the main change.
South booted the opening three goals of the third stanza to trim the deficit to just 10 points nearing time-on, Beau McCreery and Jason Horne looking ominous for the Navy Blues.
But a classy 50m set shot finish from a composed Michael Frederick helped steady the ship for the Eagles, who then pushed the advantage back out to 22 points on the back of a third goal to forward Josh Morris.
It allowed coach Shane Reardon’s Eagles to keep their rivals at arm’s length throughout the fourth quarter, with Eagles skipper Zane Williams kicking a pair of majors, the second an eye-catching snap from the pocket after showing his speed along the boundary line.
Frederick – the twin brother of Power rookie Martin Frederick – was fittingly awarded the Alan Stewart Medal as best afield as he tallied 20 disposals and nine marks to go with his crucial goal late in the third term.
The best of his nine marks came during the fourth quarter when he launched himself from three-deep in a pack to haul in a strong contested grab.
Luke Barnett, Taj Schofield and Williams also found plenty of the ball to be strong contributors while Lachlan Jones was rock solid in defence for the victors, who added the 2019 crown to last year’s five-point triumph against South in the U18 title-decider.
Coming from third place after the minor round, South’s looked a little tired in the warm conditions late in the contest after not being afforded the week’s rest.
The Panthers were well served by exciting utility Zac Dumesny, who chalked up 21 disposals while SA Under-16 captain Horne was strong through the midfield with 17 disposals, seven tackles and seven clearances.
EAGLES 5.2 8.6 10.9 12.11 (83)
SOUTH 3.1 4.2 7.5 9.6 (60)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Eagles: Barnett, Frederick 20, Jones, Schofield 18, Williams 16, Burgoyne, Smith 13.
South: Dumesny 21, Horne, 17, Copley 15, Draper, McCreery 14, Kraemer, Oliver 13.
GOALS – Eagles: Morris 3, Williams 2, Beecken, Frederick, Jackson, Jungfer, Lock, Pearce, Smith.
South: McCreery, Sladojevic 2, Clifton, Draper, Horne, Kraemer, Ryan.
UMPIRES – Jackson Nokes, Daniel Whittlesea, Henry Klemm
ALAN STEWART MEDAL – Michael Frederick (Eagles)