Hostplus SANFL League Preliminary Final Snapshot

Norwood players celebrate after the final siren of the Preliminary Final. Picture - David Mariuz

Compiled by Zac Milbank

Adelaide’s James Borlase impressed with his intercept marking. Picture – David Mariuz

Norwood produced a stirring 11-point victory to outlast Adelaide in a pulsating Hostplus SANFL League Preliminary Final at Adelaide Oval.

Booking a berth in next Sunday’s Grand Final against the Roosters, the Redlegs didn’t hit the front until late inclusion Mitch Carroll goaled on the run nearly 16 minutes into the final term.

It gave his side a six-point lead which was soon doubled when popular Norwood veteran Matt Panos snapped truly from close range just three minutes later.

Adelaide forward Elliott Himmelberg and Lachlan Gollant then missed opportunities from set shots to claw their way back as the Legs wound down the clock deep into time-on.

Despite trailing at every change, Jade Rawling’s men seemed to relish the slippery conditions which stifled the Crows run, driven initially by a 44-30 advantage at the clearances.

But Adelaide wasn’t able to translate this edge into inside 50 entries which Norwood ultimately won 48 to 41 as it stormed into its first title-decider since 2018, in which it also confronted North Adelaide.

The Legs’ pressure around the ball was tremendous, laying a total of 105 tackles as Jacob Kennerley (12), Nick Lowden (10) and Matthew Nunn (10) all hit double figures.

Norwood’s Henry Nelligan celebrates his reflex goal in the second term. Picture – David Mariuz

Redlegs’ star Nik Rokahr was outstanding, collecting 30 disposals, seven clearances and eight tackles but the sight of him limping midway through the final term will cause some concern for Redlegs’ fans this week.

Norwood defender Jack Heard continued his excellent finals form with 19 disposals and nine rebound 50s while his skipper Matthew Nunn played himself into timely form with 18 disposals, five marks and 10 tackles.

Clever Norwood goalsneak Baynen Lowe injected himself into the game late in the second term by booting the first of his four game-breaking goals.

Adelaide, chasing its first SANFL Grand Final berth, was dealt a major blow before the bounce when inform midfielder Luke Pedlar was a late withdrawal with hip and groin issues.

It gave leading onballer Brett Turner one less quality teammate to lean on at the centre stoppages, Turner finishing with a team-high 26 possessions, 10 tackles and 10 clearances.

Crows key forward Himmelberg started brightly to kick three goals to go with 16 disposals, six marks and three clearances while Fisher McAsey also bobbed up for three majors.

Adelaide defenders Josh Worrell (16 disposals, five marks) and James Borlase (10 disposals, five marks) also showed plenty of promise for the future.

But ultimately Adelaide didn’t have enough strong contributors at the bottom end as it failed to make the most of its third Preliminary Final after losses in 2016 and 2019.

Adelaide’s Jay Boyle celebrates a goal. Picture – David Mariuz

Tom Wyman's Key Match-Ups

Elliott Himmelberg (Adelaide) v Jack Heard (Norwood)

Big Crow Elliott Himmelberg and breakout Norwood defender Jack Heard met for the fourth time this season.

Himmelberg was on fire early, using his size advantage to take three marks early in the contest and booting two first-term goals.

Also the leading possession-getter at the first change, Himmelberg threatened to tear the Preliminary Final apart.

However, Heard fought back hard, not allowing Himmelberg to take a mark in the second quarter.

The Crow went into the ruck at stages but when in attack, Heard continued to nullify Himmelberg in the air and broke even with him at ground level.

Himmelberg kicked a third early in the last term but Heard’s ability to quell Himmelberg’s influence after quarter time went a long way to Norwood booking a spot in the Grand Final.

Heard himself gathered an impressive 19 disposals, four marks and nine rebounds.


Brett Turner (Adelaide) v Nik Rokahr (Norwood)

With midfield bull Luke Pedlar withdrawing from the game late with a hip/groin injury, much of the heavy lifting for Adelaide was left to mid-season recruit Brett Turner.

He and fellow ball magnet Nik Rohkar were vital for their respective sides.

Already nursing a foot injury, Rohkar looked to cop a leg injury in a smother attempt, but it didn’t stop him from gathering 30 touches, eight tackles, seven clearances and five inside-50s.

Runner up in the Magarey Medal during the week, the Redleg was the leading possession-winner on the ground and will again be relied heavily upon next week against a strong Roosters midfield.

Nursing a sore shoulder, Turner did all he could for his side, gathering 26 disposals, ten tackles, ten clearances and four inside-50s.

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