Sturt secured its spot in the SANFL U18 Torrens University Cup grand final with a 30-point win against Woodville-West Torrens in Saturday’s preliminary final at Thebarton Oval.
As many preliminary finals are, it was close, tight and intense up until three-quarter time before Sturt kicked four unanswered goals in the final quarter to progress through to take on the Redlegs.
The minor premier Double Blues had many contributors last Saturday with AFL Academy SA Hub teammates Mani Liddy and Tom Powell leading the way in the midfield.
Both players are in the competition’s top four for disposals and clearances this season, with Powell averaging 34.9 disposals and 9.3 clearances from his 12 matches and Liddy 26.2 and 6.7 clearances from his 14 games.
Will Spain has been another key contributor for the Double Blues, leading the league for tackles with an average of 6.6 per game.
All three players were outstanding against the Eagles as Liddy gathered 29 disposals, eight clearances and kicked one goal, Powell had 28 disposals, 10 marks and a goal and Spain had 18 touches and 10 tackles in what proved to be a stellar midfield trio.
Sturt tall forward Morgan Ferres was in good form with nine marks from his 17 disposals, but his goal kicking was wayward with 2.4 – something he will want to rectify going into this Saturday’s title-decider against Norwood.
Despite playing just six matches this year Ferres has the second most goals in the league with 22.
On what seemed perfect conditions for football at Thebarton Oval last Saturday Ferres wasn’t the only Sturt player to have the “yips” in front of goal as the side kicked 12.22 for the match.
While they were leading most of the important stats, Sturt couldn’t put the Eagles away on the scoreboard.
The Double Blues enjoyed eight scoring shots to three in the first term, but the scores were level at the first break, and while Sturt lead the half-time scoring shots 15 to 11, it was the Eagles who held a 16-point advantage.
The half time scoreboard read 8.3-51 to 4.11-35.
The Double Blues kicked another 11 behinds in the second half but thankfully for them they also booted eight goals to just two from Woodville-West Torrens.
For the Eagles, Brock Thomson was the leading ball winner with 31 disposals, while Caleb Poulter had 22 disposals, seven marks and four clearances in his final Torrens University Cup outing for 2020.
Port Adelaide father/son prospects Jase Burgoyne had 21 disposals and kicked a goal, while Taj Schofield had three early disposals before sustaining a leg injury midway through the first quarter.