Norwood survived a late charge to win an emotion-charged thriller against South Adelaide by just two points at The Parade.
After viewing a moving tribute to late teammate Nick Lowden on the big screen, the Redlegs were slow to start after conceding three of the opening four goals of the game.
Key forward Jackson Callow put the hosts up by as much as 39 points with his fourth major in the second minute of the fourth quarter.
Jade Rawlings’ charges – having endured an incredibly difficult week after Lowden’s passing – appeared set for a comfortable victory before the Panthers finally clicked into gear.
Second game forward Jack Delean nailed his second from a set shot to get the ball rolling for South as they kicked the final six goals of the match to draw within a point when Zach Sproule kicked his third approaching the 25-minute mark.
The visitors were threatening again when Liam Fitt – who was a significant presence in the comeback – snapped a dangerous ball to the top of the goal square, only to see the ball cleared by Norwood veteran Matt Panos to the outer side boundary.
It was then, with 30.40 on the clock, the final siren sounded with the Legs holding on to honour their premiership teammate.
Norwood midfielder Nik Rokahr was outstanding with his desperation late in the game, finishing with 32 disposals, five clearances and a goal while Callow was also influential with 20 disposals and eight marks adding to his game-high four majors.
Redlegs defender Jack Heard finished with 20 disposals, as did Panos, who also kicked a nice goal in the second term which finished off an impressive team play from defence.
Callow’s fellow tall forwards Connor Mclean and Tristan Binder each kicked two goals for Norwood.
South standout Oliver Davis racked up 31 disposals, 11 clearances and seven tackles while Kobe Mutch (28 disposals, six clearances, one goal) and Hayden Sampson (25 disposals) also battled hard.
Sproule and consistent forward Ben Shillabeer each booted three goals for the Panthers.
Sturt’s refusal to concede despite terrible inaccuracy ensured it would produce a memorable four-point come-from-behind victory against Central District at X Convenience Oval.
After kicking the opening five behinds of the match, the Double Blues trailed the Bulldogs from 18 minutes into the first term until last term hero James Mathews kicked truly in the 35th-minute of the fourth term.
The Bulldogs’ efficiency gave them every chance to claim a vital win in the race for a top-five spot but their inability to completely shut the door on Sturt proved costly as the visitors booted the last four goals of the game.
Trailing by 22 points nearly 14 minutes into the fourth quarter, the Double Blues trimmed the deficit to 14 points when backman Connor McFadyen was swung forward to nail a set shot goal.
Mathews then went to work when he shrugged a tackle and showed great composure to goal from 20m to bring the margin back to eight points.
After Sturt forward James Richards was stretchered off early in the last term following a heavy collision, the quarter was set to be a lengthy one which allowed Malachy Carruthers to put his side within a goal with his classy snap in the 32nd minute.
And then it was Mathews who put Sturt in front after nailing his set shot from a slight angle 25m out in the 35th minute, having caught Bulldog veteran Justin Hoskin holding the ball.
Blues skipper James Battersby tallied a team high 29 disposals and six clearances while Casey Voss had 24 disposals and 14 marks often playing higher up the field from defence.
The visitors’ Jared Dakin (22 disposals), Marty Frederick (21 disposals) and Tom Lewis (20 disposals, 16 tackles, eight clearances) were also decisive figures in the win.
Sturt tall Lachie Burrows continually looked dangerous in the air while booting three goals.
Central’s Harry Grant, enjoying a career-best season which should ensure he’s a chance for the Magarey Medal, collected 31 disposals, five tackles and four clearances while captain Jarrod Schiller had 19 disposals and a goal.
Dogs defender Billy Iles chalked up 19 disposals while teammate Isaiah Dudley kicked three goals, including a classy major which was snapped after baulking his opponent.
Glenelg was unable to capture its best football but it did capture the premiership points with a workmanlike nine-point win against Port Adelaide at Alberton.
Seeking to sew up top spot on the ladder, the Tigers took another significant step toward a direct path to the Second Semi-Final after leading at every change against the plucky Pies, who were playing under lights for the first time at Queen Street.
The Bays threatened to take the contest away from the hosts in the first term but inaccuracy kept Port within reach as it never let the deficit get beyond 19 points for the evening.
Tyson Goldsack’s charges got within seven points on two occasions in the fourth term, the first after a tremendous checkside goal from Jed Hagan in the 11th minute.
After Tiger Matt Allen marked deep in the bowling club pocket and snapped his set shot truly, Port’s Murphy Short coolly booted his set shot from 40m to again get within seven points in the 20th minute.
But when first-year Tiger Archie Lovelock showed great poise and unselfishness to square the ball up to Ken Farmer Medal faovurite Lachie Hosie, the visitors finally closed out the contest in the 29th minute.
Had Hosie kicked straight, he could have been a clear best afield candidate after tallying 17 disposals, 10 marks to go with his 2.4 in front of goal.
Tiger Corey Lyons was again consistent with 23 disposals and a goal while Matt Allen (19 disposals, nine marks and a goal) and reliable defender Toby Pink (15 disposals, eight marks) were other significant contributors an an even team effort.
Port midfielder Jackson Mead and captain Cam Sutcliffe each finished with a game-high 27 disposals while Hugh Jackson tallied 25 disposals, six clearances and five tackles.
Hagan was dangerous with 18 disposals and two goals while Port’s best SANFL-contracted player Nick Moore was again an importance presence with three goals.
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