By ZAC MILBANK
South Adelaide will get a second crack at undefeated North Adelaide after accounting for West Adelaide by 30 points in the Statewide Super Women’s League Preliminary Final at Thebarton Oval.
The Panthers responded positively to their eight-point loss to the Roosters in the Second Semi-Final by leading at every change against the Bloods in the cut-throat decider.
South midfielder Hannah Munyard got things started in the first term when she gathered a loose ball to goal from close range in the 10th minute.
But it was the second stanza in which Rick Watts’ outfit constructed the victory, with star utility Teah Charlton proving to be the difference-maker.
Charlton, who finished the game with 15 disposals and a monstrous 12 tackles, booted her two goals in the second quarter to help South build a commanding 21-point lead at half-time.
South spearhead Jess Kirk booted the first of her two majors after a strong mark nearing the three-minute mark.
Then it was Charlton who seized her opportunity to turn the match in the Panthers’ favour, booting her first goal from a 25m set shot after receiving a free kick for a push in the back.
But it was her second goal, featured in the clip below, which caught the eye.
Munyard booted a tumbling ball deep towards the goal square where Charlton read the bounce beautifully to tap it into her own path and finish from close range.
The Bloods, coming off their commanding First Semi-Final win against Norwood, needed a spark and it was Crows-listed Chelsea Biddell who stepped up to provide it.
The long-kicking utility displayed her range when she accepted a handball and let fly from 45m on the run to kick her side’s opening goal of the game, 11 minutes into the third quarter.
Unfortunately for West, it was to be their sole major as the Panthers pulled away again with goals to Elyse Haylock and Kirk in the final term, Haylock reading the ball nicely at stoppage before snapping truly from 25m.
It was more than enough to ensure South avoided an unwanted straight-sets finals exit, setting up a berth in the Statewide Super League Grand Final next weekend against the Roosters.
Munyard led the way on the stats sheet with 17 disposals, four tackles and her opening goal while the experience of Czenya Cavouras and Cheyenne Hammond – 14 possessions each – was also pivotal.
Panther Nikki Gore had 13 disposals and joined Charlton and Cavouras in reaching double-figures in the tackle column.
West’s Rachelle Martin tried her heart out in racking up a game-high 20 disposals while also laying 10 tackles and having six clearances.
Crows-listed Stevie-Lee Thompson was unable to repeat her First Semi-Final heroics by hitting the scoreboard but she lent Martin strong support with 19 disposals while Maddie Newman had 15 possessions.
The Bloods can hold their heads high despite exiting a week earlier than planned, given they qualified for their first Women’s final and won it convincingly with their record highest score last week.
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