Hostplus League

Norwood win 2022 Hostplus SANFL League Premiership

Compiled by Zac Milbank

It was a four-year wait but the revenge was sweet for Norwood as Matthew Panos’ moment of brilliance earned a pulsating one-point victory against North Adelaide in the Hostplus Grand Final at Adelaide Oval.

Trailing for the majority of the enthralling title-decider, the Redlegs refused to lie down and there was no better example than that man Panos who stood tall when it mattered most.

In Round 8, Panos kicked the match-winner against Adelaide, making his comeback after a 628-day recovery from a serious knee injury.

And on the biggest stage of all, with his beloved Redlegs behind by five points, the 2014 Jack Oatey Medallist read the tap from 2022 Jack Oatey Medallist Harry Boyd, gathered at full speed and snapped truly to the northern end.

Nearly 27 minutes had ticked over in the final term so it was enough to push Jade Rawlings’ charges over the line for their 31st premiership while earning revenge for the club’s shock loss to the Roosters in the 2018 title-decider.

The spirit shown by the Redlegs was incredible, despite falling behind by as much as 17 points when North’s 2022 Magarey Medallist Aaron Young snapped a goal nearly 12 minutes into the last quarter.

Seemingly out of the contest as the red-and-white faithful gained full voice, Norwood then kicked the next three goals in succession to win its second flag by one point, the same margin as its famous victory against Sturt in 1978.

Norwood’s triumph also ensured it became just the fourth team to win a premiership after losing a Qualifying Final, joining Sturt in 1976 and 2017 as well as the Eagles in 2011.

Norwood’s Matthew Panos celebrates his match-winner in the fourth term. Picture – Cory Sutton

Redlegs ruckman Boyd was tremendous at the stoppages, earning a massive 64 hit outs to go with his 20 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s.

He was a fitting winner of the award for best afield, edging out Norwood defender Jack Heard, who not only blanketed Roosters’ premiership forward Keenan Ramsey but racked up 24 disposals.

Magarey Medal runner-up Nik Rokahr, who has been carrying a foot ailment throughout the finals, was a warrior through the middle with 24 possessions while Jay Rantall (25 disposals and nine clearances) was also effective.

Legs captain Matthew Nunn had 19 disposals and eight clearances while Josh Richards also had 19 touches while kicking an eye-catching goal in the final term which sparked the late run before teammate Ben Jarvis converted his set shot from 45m.

North captain Alex Spina under pressure from Norwood’s Matt Panos. Picture – David Mariuz

Minor premier North, seeking its 15th League premiership, was seemingly in the box seat for victory after playing one game (Second Semi-Final) in three weeks.

But any thought the Roosters would have fresher legs than their opponents went out the window as Norwood finished stronger in the dying stages.

They appeared set for victory after not only leading at every change but when momentum swung in their favour on the back of consecutive goals to Lachlan Wilsdon and Harrison Elbrow late in the third term.

Wilsdon gathered from a loose ball over the back of the pack before Elbrow converted from a 25m set shot having received a free kick for an incident off the play before the ball was bounced in the centre square.

But Jacob Surjan’s men weren’t able to put the Legs away as Magarey Medallist Campbell Combe (24 disposals, 13 tackles and seven clearances) laid it all on the line for his side.

Roosters skipper Alex Spina also had 24 touches across half-back while Harrison Wigg (23 disposals) and Will Combe (22 disposals) also battled hard through the contest.

But it was to be Panos’ day.

The Legs veteran kicked Norwood’s first goal of the game with a classy snap shot in traffic before handing off a goal assist to Baynen Lowe in a sign of what was to come later in the afternoon.

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