By ZAC MILBANK
North Adelaide’s Norwood nightmare is finally over.
Having lost to the Redlegs in the inaugural Statewide Super League Grand Final in 2017 and in last year’s Preliminary Final, the Roosters shrugged the monkey off their back with a fighting two-point win in this year’s penultimate game at The Parade.
Extending their winning streak to eight, Matthew Slade’s charges showed tremendous resilience to hold firm in a dramatic final quarter on foreign soil.
Despite clearly losing all of the key statistic categories – including inside 50s by 35 to 18 – North managed to stifle the minor premier from dictating the terms in front of the Redleg faithful.
Wing Paige Allan (pictured above) kicked North’s first major of the game three minutes into the second term when co-captain Leah Tynan fired out a lightning quick handball to allow Allan to dribble the ball through the goal square.
This was vitally important given Norwood had just scored its opening – and eventually sole – major through speedy Matilda Zander only 43 seconds after the first change.
The competition’s leading goal kicker, North’s Kelly Barltrop, then put her side in front when she took a nice mark running back with the flight of the ball before converting the 20m set shot seven minutes into the third term.
Holding just a one-point advantage at the final break, the visitors then scored the opening two behinds of the final quarter to Allan and pacy Erica Greet.
Then just as it seemed North had done enough for victory, Norwood took control of general play for the final three minutes, resulting in a scoring opportunity for Rhiannon Busch.
Gathering the ball deep in the forward pocket, Busch let fly with a checkside kick on goal only to miss narrowly and trim the margin to two points.
The ball was headed back into the Redlegs’ forward 50m arc as the final siren sounded, causing plenty of emotion to be let out by the victorious Roosters.
Key North defender Amber Ward was outstanding all evening, finishing with a team high 23 disposals while Kat Reynolds, Nadia Von Bertouch and Tynan did plenty of grunt work through the middle.
Norwood, which lost one minor round match all season, missed the presence of star Najwa Allen, who injured her knee in the Second Semi-Final seven days earlier.
Also without savvy veteran Jo Hill, the Redlegs were best served by AFLW experienced air Hannah Dunn and Sally Riley, who chalked up 48 disposals between them.
But ultimately it was North which got the more even spread of contributors to cling on, and book a berth against South Adelaide in next Sunday’s Statewide Super Women’s League Grand Final at ACH Group Stadium.
NORTH 0.1 1.3 2.4 2.6 (18)
NORWOOD 0.4 1.6 1.9 1.10 (16)
LEADING DISPOSALS – North: Amber Ward 23, Olivia Gallio, Kat Reynolds 14, Erica Greet 13, Leah Tynan 11, Nicole Collie, Lauren Daniel, Jess Eichner, Nadia Von Bertouch 10.
Norwood: Hannah Dunn 26, Sally Riley 22, Tahlia Meyer 19, Michele Reid 18, Monique Hollick 17, Sophie Armitstead 16, Leah Cutting 15.
GOALS – North: Kelly Barltrop, Paige Allan.
Norwood: Matilda Zander