By ZAC MILBANK
Glenelg secured its first minor premiership since 2009 with a strong second-half performance to eclipse West Adelaide by 75 points at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday.
Despite a scratchy first half, the Tigers clicked into gear during the third quarter as they engineered their biggest win of the season.
And it took an unfortunate knee injury to Bays utility Tom Schott to spark the hosts, who made the most of a lengthy stoppage as Schott left the field.
Within 30 seconds of the former Bloods player limping to the boundary, Brad Agnew fed Luke Reynolds who goaled on the run from 40m.
Mark Stone’s men then piled on the next three goals in succession – with another to Reynolds, his Ken Farmer Medal rival Liam McBean and youngster Todd Slade, who was appearing in his first game of the season.
It allowed the Bays to stretch the half-time margin of 14 points to a match-defining 36 at the final change as they booked direct entry to the Second Semi-Final and a week’s rest at the start of the major round.
”It was a good win in the end as we had a bit to play for – to win the minor premiership and get that week off,” Glenelg captain Chris Curran told Channel 7 after the match.
”This (Glenelg FC) has been a pretty dark place for the last few years and I’ve been on that journey (back up the ladder) but it’s certainly not finished yet.
”It’s a matter of embracing it, we still want to hunt teams and go after them each time.”
Reynolds, who has now closed the gap on McBean in the race to be the competition’s leading goal-kicker, finished with 4.3 to with his 20 disposals, six marks and seven tackles.
He now sits on 43 goals for the season, just three behind McBean, who only managed one against the Bloods.
”Hopefully I will put him (McBean) out at training this week and keep him on the sidelines,” Reynolds said with a laugh.
”It’s just good working with Beany, he’s a big lad so playing alongside of him is very enjoyable.”
But Reynolds, McBean, Darcy Bailey (three goals) and Brad Close (two goals) wouldn’t have had the opportunities they received without the outstanding midfield work done by Matt Snook, Luke Partington and Marlon Motlop.
Snook was tremendous in the clinches before finishing with 37 disposals and a mammoth 16 clearances to shade Partington and Motlop who both tallied in excess of 30 possessions.
In defence, Aaron Joseph marshalled the back six with great composure and with fierce tackling as Tiger team-mate Brad Agnew continually put the clamps on his opponents.
The only negatives from the Bays’ final home match of the season came in regard to the injury to Schott and former Cat Cory Gregson, who didn’t return after half-time after copping a knock to the front of his knee.
After a spirited first-half performance, the Bloods were unable to sustain their effort following the main change, mirroring several of their matches this season.
The Round 17 fadeout was due in part to the loss of star midfielder Kaine Stevens, who left the field early in the second term after receiving an accidental poke in the eye.
In Stevens’ absence, Nathan Batley and Patrick Fairlie led the way on the disposal count with 26 each, while Fairlie’s older brother Connor looked lively throughout the afternoon en route to kicking three goals.
Former skipper Chris Schmidt also had 26 touches while spending time through the midfield while teenager Riley Thilthorpe continues to show plenty of promise, booting two goals and taking six marks from limited opportunities.
West, just one premiership point ahead of tenth-placed North Adelaide, still has plenty to play for in its final match of the season against Norwood next Friday night as it looks to avoid the wooden spoon.
GLENELG 2.5 5.6 10.11 17.17 (119)
WEST 1.1 3.4 5.5 6.8 (44)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Glenelg: Snook 37, Partington 34, Motlop 31, Bradley 27, Joseph 24, Agnew, Curran, Gould 23, Scharenberg 21, Reynolds 20.
West: Batley, P. Fairlie, Schmidt, Wasley-Black 26, Dunkin 24, Hill, Willsmore 23, Waite 21, Anderson. Levicki 20.
GOALS – Glenelg: Reynolds 4, Bailey 3, Close, Motlop 2, Bradley, Martini, McBean, Partington, Slade, Snook.
West: C. Fairlie 3, Thilthorpe 2, Karpany.
Sign up to see all the news from around the SANFL each week – directly in your inbox!