By ZAC MILBANK
One clean quarter of football was enough for Norwood to book a berth in the Elimination Final after it held off a wasteful West Adelaide by 18 points at City Mazda Stadium on Friday night.
Needing a win to ensure they would appear in the major round, the Redlegs bolted out of the blocks with an eye-catching eight-goal first term.
Coming off a disappointing display against Central seven days earlier, Jarrod Cotton’s men looked determined to atone as they moved the ball with precision and finished in clinical fashion.
With AFL Draft prospects Cole Gerloff (three goals) and Dylan Stephens (two goals) contributing five of the eight majors between them, the Legs looked like taking some meaningful form into next Saturday night’s cut-throat clash.
Instead, Cotton will have plenty to ponder after his side managed just 2.7 across the final three quarters as West took complete control of possession.
By the final siren, it was hard to believe Norwood had six goals on the board before the Bloods could blink such was the disparity on the statistics sheet.
Gavin Colville’s charges had a staggering 33 more kicks, 43 more handballs, and 33 more marks which translated into six fewer inside 50 entries.
Not only were the hosts wasteful with the ball further up the field, they were critically inaccurate in front of goal after having two more scoring shots yet losing by three goals.
Such was West’s dominance of general play, it was difficult not to think the Bloods may have crept across the line had their classy veteran Jono Beech (knee injury) been available to finish off his team-mates’ hard work.
As the hosts mounted a significant charge to begin the fourth term, they scored five behinds in succession before Norwood’s third-gamer Cameron Ball kicked his first Statewide Super League goal to kill off the contest in the 18th minute.
As if to tease the Bloods faithful even more, their only goal for the quarter came six minutes later when 17-year-old Riley Thilthorpe nailed the toughest shot of the night with a perfectly executed checkside kick from the boundary line.
Four-quarter performers were hard to come by for the Redlegs, who will be pleased to come through the contest without any serious injury concerns.
Lewis Johnston (pictured above by John Emery of Norwood FC) found plenty of the ball to tally 29 disposals and 12 marks while Stephens continues to impress with his ball use and finishing with 22 possessions and two goals.
The Bloods end their 2019 with an encouraging finish to their last outing, with adding classy goalkickers sure to be at the top of Colville’s recruiting wish list this summer.
Currently sitting in 9th place, West will avoid the wooden spoon should the Eagles defeat North Adelaide at Prospect tomorrow.
Veterans Kaine Stevens, Chris Schmidt and Tom Keough all had strong games while the two promising Bloods youngsters unearthed in 2019 – Elliot Dunkin and Patrick Fairlie – were again impressive.
NORWOOD 8.1 8.3 9.6 10.8 (68)
WEST 2.2 4.7 5.9 6.14 (50)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Norwood: L. Johnston 29, McKenzie 25, Panos, Stephens 22, Grigg 21, Georgiou, Hamilton, Shenton 16.
West: Schmidt, K. Stevens 30, P. Fairlie, Willsmore 29, Dunkin 28, Hill 26, Keough, Waite 22.
GOALS – Norwood: Gerloff 3, Stephens 2, Ball, Bampton, Grigg, Hamilton, A. Wilson.
West: H. Haysman, Hupfeld, Karpany, Thilthorpe, Waite, Wasley-Black.