Hostplus SANFL Snapshot – Elimination Final

Central District players celebrate their seven-point win against Port in the Elimination Final. Picture - David Mariuz

Compiled by Zac Milbank

Central’s Aiden Grace celebrates one of his goals. Picture – David Mariuz

The Bulldogs are back.

Central District extended its season for another week with a spirited seven-point win against Port Adelaide in the Hostplus SANFL League Elimination Final at Adelaide Oval. 

It had been six years since the famous ”U Dogs” chant rang out at the home of SA footy and the Elizabeth faithful were in full voice when Nick Lange sealed a memorable victory entering time-on of the final term.

Lange, one of the Dogs’ cleanest finishers in front of goal, nailed his shot on the run from 45m after his side ran the ball the length of the field after a rushed behind.

The Bulldogs’ No.29 had earlier in the 15th minute nailed a set shot after taking a gutsy mark running back with the flight to tie up the scores.

A five-goal haul from Central forward sidekick Aiden Grace was instrumental in the triumph but it was his behind from a set shot beyond 50m which effectively sealed the result in the 26th minute.

Grace plays with passion and his spirit certainly typified the Bulldogs’ attitude when the game was on the line, kicking a vital set shot from the boundary before kicking one of the goals of the year with a checkside effort in the third quarter.

The long-haired Tasmanian provided the spark his side needed considering Port’s Orazio Fantasia was doing his best to change the momentum of the match late in the second term.

The classy small forward booted three goals in succession during time-on, leading into half-time, before snapping his fourth to give Port a 12-point lead 14 minutes into the third.

But the Magpies’ lead was short-lived as Grace and Lange stole the show late in the contest to book a berth in next Sunday’s First Semi-Final.

Port’s Nathan Barkla fires out a handball. Picture – David Mariuz

Central’s midfielder Harry Grant, who won the 2023 SANFL Now Player of the Year Award, led the way on the stats sheet with 22 disposals, six clearances and 11 tackles.

Fellow former GWS Giant Leyton Chisholm was also prominent with 20 disposals but the wise heads of captain Jarrod Schiller, Kyle Presbury and Justin Hoskin were vital in critical situations.

Hoskin played with a steady hand late in the contest to help ensure he would register his 200th Hostplus SANFL League match next weekend.

Port, which had control of the clearances at half-time 23 to 16, had an even spread of ball-winners as Jase Burgoyne and Jackson Mead tallied 19 disposals each.

Riley Bonner collected 17 disposals while Cody Szust was a constant threat inside 50 for the Pies with 16 disposals and five shots on goal for 2.3.

Impressive small forward Jed Hagan finished his first Hostplus SANFL League season with a three-goal haul.

Port players celebrate a set shot goal to Scott Lycett after the three quarter-time siren. Picture – David Mariuz

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