Sturt, Norwood, Woodville-West Torrens and South Adelaide make up the SANFL U18 Torrens University Cup top-four heading into this weekend’s opening finals round.
Minor premier Sturt will take on the second placed Norwood at Thebarton Oval in Saturday morning’s qualifying final with the winner locking in its place in the 2020 grand final.
In the following game at the same venue, Woodville-West Torrens will take on South Adelaide in the elimination final.
North Adelaide narrowly missed out on a finals spot, while Glenelg, Central District and West Adelaide also rounded out their seasons over the weekend.
In the match of Round 14, North Adelaide hosted South Adelaide on Saturday with the winner moving through to the major rounds, and the loser packing their bags and heading into the off season.
Both sides entered the game with eight wins, with the Panthers holding the spot in the top four by 0.18%.
In what was an entertaining and close game, a four-goal second quarter burst from South Adelaide helped it to a 16-point win to confirm the finals spot.
Both sides booted four goals in the opening term before the Roosters had a hot start to the second term, booting two quick goals through Zyton Santillo and Shaun Bennier to lead by 13 points at the seven-minute mark.
The Panthers went on to kick the next five goals, dominating the play to lead by 19 points midway through the third term.
Another two goals to Bennier and Hugh Jackson cut the lead to single digits with a chance to steal the game and the top four spot in the last quarter.
Dylan Brown kicked South’s first goal of the final quarter, but North kept itself in the hunt as Tariek Newchurch booted his third goal at the 13-minute mark.
AFL Academy SA Hub midfielder Matt Roberts kicked back-to-back goals within two minutes, followed up by a another to Brown to help the Panthers to a vital win.
Roberts was outstanding with four goals, 28 disposals (22 kicks) and 13 marks, while teammate Zac Dumesny had 33 disposals and 11 marks.
Jayden Davison was North’s leading ball winner with 28 disposals and seven clearances while Newchurch finished with four goals from 17 disposals and five clearances.
Norwood’s Jack Saunders played one of the games of the season in his side 83-point thumping of West Adelaide at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday morning.
Saunders enjoyed five goals from 29 disposals and also collected eight marks and laid seven tackles.
Norwood’s quality players had a nice tune up heading into the finals as AFL Academy SA Hub midfielder Henry Nelligan once again dominated with 33 disposals, six clearances and a goal.
The Bloods’ difficult season came to an end and they didn’t hit the lead all match as the Redlegs booted eight first quarter goals to one with Saunders finding his first two goals in the opening term.
Saunders had his third soon after the quarter-time break, stretching the lead to 49 points.
The Redlegs ran away with eight second half goals to two to lock in their top two berth, giving themselves a double chance.
Eduard Van den berg has been a consistent performer for the struggling Bloods all season and finished with 27 disposals, three tackles and four clearances.
Even without prolific ball winner Tom Powell minor premiers Sturt had no trouble casting aside Glenelg in the final home-and-away match of the season.
The likes of Malachy Carruthers, Brad Jefferies and Mani Liddy stood up in the midfield in Powell’s absence, each collecting 34 disposals in what was a dominant performance by the Double Blues.
Carruthers also had 15 marks, Jefferies enjoyed 10 clearances and Liddy kicked a goal in a damaging midfield trio to help their side win by 71 points.
Sturt dominated all the major statistics, winning disposals by 92, marks by 37, clearances by nine, inside 50s by 27 and tackles by three.
After a close opening term, the Double Blues fired away after quarter time with five second quarter goals.
Sturt breezed to a comfortable win with five goals to one in the second half, restricting the Tigers to just three goals for the match.
Tall forward Morgan Ferres was fantastic for Sturt with three goals from 11 disposals, he also took four marks.
Harry Tunkin was the best ball-winner for the Bays with 24 disposals.
The Tigers will be disappointed with how they finished the season after they sat on top of the ladder at the conclusion of Round 5, winning just one game in its remaining nine matches.
Woodville-West Torrens had a fight on its hands against Central District at Prospect Oval on Saturday, but six unanswered goals in the final term helped it to a 45-point win.
The Eagles’ key figures stood up when it counted with Jase Burgoyne, Caleb Poulter and Taj Schofield leading the disposal count for their side.
These three seem to hold the key to Woodville-West Torrens making a run at an U18 title defence.
Port Adelaide father/son prospect Burgoyne had 31 disposals, seven clearances and kicked a final quarter goal, while Poulter had 27 disposals, two goals and five marks.
Forward Jordan Kasianowicz was outstanding for the Eagles with four goals, six marks and 18 disposals.
For the Bulldogs, Cody Gilchrist once again stood up with three goals, taking his season tally to 17 from 11 matches.
Austin McDonald has also been a steady performer for Central this season and on Saturday had 32 disposals and an astonishing 14 clearances.