By ZAC MILBANK
Glenelg began its premiership defence with a heart-stopping three-point victory against a determined Norwood at Adelaide Oval.
Desperate to honour former skipper Andrew Bradley in his 150th game, the Bays showed tremendous resolve to slowly claw their way back into the contest after trailing by as much as 27 points early in the second term.
Norwood went without a goal for more than a quarter before its Mount Compass recruit Tom Pinyon made the most of a rare defensive error from Glenelg to tie up the scores four minutes into the last term.
Bays forward Liam McBean, one of his side’s most influential players, then swooped on a loose ball to turn and snap a goal along the ground in one action.
It only served to spark the Redlegs into conjuring a significant surge in the fourth quarter as it then scored the next four behinds in succession, forcing new Bays skipper Max Proud into several spoils on the last line of defence.
Unheralded Tiger Carl Nicholson then pulled in a courageous mark running back with the flight before converting it into a nine-point lead. In such a tight contest, it seemed like the 2019 premiers were all but home 15 minutes in.
But Norwood’s spirit was emphasised by Cole Gerloff nailing a difficult set shot from 35m before new captain Matt Panos made his presence felt by snapping truly from 30m to restore the lead on the stroke of time-on.
Within two minutes, Glenelg snatched back the lead when Magarey Medallist Luke Partington continued his strong finish to the match by marking an errant kick from Norwood’s defence just inside the 50m arc.
Partington calmly slotted through his 45m set shot to put the Bays back in front by three points, which proved to be the final margin after a nail-biting final 11 minutes registered just a behind to each team as the clock ticked beyond 30 minutes.
It was an outstanding display of Statewide Super League football between two of the competition’s powerhouse clubs at the home of SA footy.
Returning Tiger juniors Matt Allen and Billy Stretch combined for the opening goal of the game but the energetic Redlegs then shifted the momentum dramatically on the back of a stunning opening term from Panos.
Panos kicked his side’s first major of the game before chalking up 11 disposals and four clearances before quarter-time as big Norwood key forward Luke Surman loomed large after booting two goals after displaying great aerial strength.
Even former Crow Richard Douglas was in on the act with his first goal, a close range snap shot, for his new club as the Legs earned a 22-point break at the first change.
The lead ballooned close to five goals when Pinyon snapped his first goal of the game after a turnover.
But Mark Stone’s men had seen enough.
Slowly but surely, the Tigers systematically worked their way back into the fierce contest by lifting their own pressure and moving the ball through the corridor.
Ken Farmer Medallist McBean was a significant beneficiary as he booted two goals and hit the post during the second stanza, one of his majors a booming set shot from 55m.
Jack Oatey Medallist Matt Snook was his typical self in and under from the first bounce while earning 29 disposals, seven tackles and 11 clearances.
His teammates began to join in through the third term as Partington (21 disposals) and Marlon Motlop (23 disposals) worked their way into the game after slow starts.
Hardnut Brad Agnew had 20 disposals, nine tackles and eight clearances while Glenelg debutant Luke Parks was impressive with his reading of the play to snare 10 defensive marks to go with his 16 disposals across half-back.
Livewire Bays forward Darcy Bailey also had an impact on the outcome, kicking three vital goals.
Norwood’s old firm of Panos (24 disposals, five tackles and nine clearances) and Mitch Grigg (23 disposals and seven tackles) led the way along with Matthew Nunn (27 disposals and six tackles), who kicked a nice goal on the run in the first-quarter flurry.
Douglas finished with 20 disposals to go with his goal while Norwood ruckman Sam Baulderstone got first touch in the centre square to amass 41 hit outs.
The Redlegs will look to inject former North Melbourne and Brisbane midfielder Ryan Bastinac into its side for Round 2 after he gained match condition in the Reserves this weekend.
By ZAC MILBANK
Exciting North Adelaide forward Lewis Hender was the star as his side eclipsed West Adelaide by 29 points at Adelaide Oval.
The talented left-footer was a significant difference-maker in the outcome of the match, kicking seven goals and snaring an early contender for Mark of the Year.
And when he wasn’t impacting the scoreboard himself, Hender was drawing three opponents before engineering a goal assist to vice-captain Andrew Moore, who snapped brilliantly from 35m in the second quarter.
A plucky Bloods outfit – led by Nathan Batley in his 100th League game – was within five points at the main change but it each time they threatened, it was Hender who was in the thick of it to keep the Roosters’ advantage.
The 26-year-old premiership forward finished with 18 disposals and nine marks to go with his game-high haul of seven majors but it was his fifth which illustrated his workrate.
Finding space on the wing in the third term, Hender kicked the ball deep inside 50m where the ball finished up in the hands of fellow forward Keenan Ramsey.
Hender pushed ahead of Ramsey who hit him up with a neat foot pass leading toward the goal square. He duly finished off from his simple set shot as he did all afternoon, kicking without a miss in a devastating display.
It was one of his three goals for the quarter as North opened up a handy 23-point break at the final change.
Once Frank Szekely slotted through the first goal of the final term, the Roosters were set to salute in coach Jacob Surjan’s first game in charge.
Both teams were one short on the interchange bench for the majority of the match, with Ben Jarman injuring his ankle for North in the first term, while Josh Koster hurt his hamstring for West in the opening minutes.
North’s bevy of recruits also had a strong hand in the victory, with former Gold Coast Sun Harrison Wigg finding 27 disposals across half-back while Moore tallied 25 disposals, seven tackles and eight clearances to go with his second term major.
Former Hawthorn speedster Billy Hartung had 19 disposals and eight tackles through the midfield while Cam Hewett was calm with ball in hand to rack up 18 disposals and 13 tackles.
Despite the loss, there were positives for Gavin Colville’s young Bloods, who had more disposals and nine more inside 50 entries than the Roosters.
Batley kicked a nice 1-2 goal to celebrate his milestone along with 28 disposals while former Adelaide development player Jordon Boyle was polished by foot with his 27 touches.
Strong-marking forward Lyndon Hupfeld was a constant threat while kicking his four goals while key defender Josh Ryan fought hard for his 19 disposals and eight marks despite being under siege on several occasions.
The Bloods will also be boosted by the return of midfielder Josh Schiller, who was a late withdrawal with a back complaint while Alex Barns (ankle) wasn’t passed fit for the Roosters.