By ZAC MILBANK
Woodville-West Torrens announced itself as side on the rise after blitzing Norwood by 65 points at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval.
Coming off a narrow loss to South and a comfortable win against Sturt in the opening two rounds, the Eagles proved they will be the real deal in 2020 after dispatching the Redlegs with surprising ease.
Right from the first bounce the Eagles were switched on as veteran Matthew Goldsworthy set the tone with an outstanding first term.
Goldsworthy, who has been released further up the field under new coach Jade Sheedy, racked up eight disposals and a goal before the first change.
The 29-year-old wound back the clock to have a hand in all three of his team’s goals during the first quarter, including a goal assist to James Rowe and sparking a run which finished in the hands of Jesse Lonergan who finished from 25m in front.
Finishing with 22 disposals, six marks and two goals, Goldsworthy received excellent support through the midfield from Jimmy Toumpas, Jordan Foote and Jake Comitogianni, the latter benefiting from the confidence shown in him by new coach Sheedy.
The hosts only led by 26 points at half-time despite restricting Norwood to just one goal – courtesy of Emmanuel Irra four minutes into the second term – and having 17 more inside 50 entries.
Eventually the scoreboard pressure came for the Eagles as Jack Hayes and Rowe – who both finished with three majors each – kicked goals in succession before that man Goldsworthy stretched the margin to 44 points with his second goal seven minutes after the main change.
The party got louder as the Eagles kicked the only five goals of the final term, their 100-gamer Jake Von Bertouch celebrating his milestone in style with two majors before being clapped off the field after the final siren.
It was a comprehensive performance from the hosts who also had their back six well led by captain Luke Thompson as Pierce Seymour, Rhyan Mansell, Jacob Wehr and draft prospect Lachlan Jones all rebounded strongly.
Norwood was forced to shuffle its line up before the bounce after star midfielder Matthew Nunn injured his hamstring at training on Friday.
Former South bigman Codey Ellison was his replacement but the Redlegs suffered from hamstring strains to tall timber Luke Surman and Michael Talia, the former hobbling from the field just a minute into the second term.
The Redlegs surprisingly held small advantages in marks and clearances despite the Eagles dominance as Sam Baulderstone battled valiantly in the ruck to win the hit out battle against Jarrad Redden while also racking up 21 disposals and 10 clearances.
His fellow vice-captain Richard Douglas refused to give in, finishing with a match-high 31 disposals, five tackles, five clearances and a goal for the Redlegs.
But there were few other Norwood contributors to speak of as the visitors slumped to a 0-3 win-loss record to start the season.
By ZAC MILBANK
Sturt was forced to sweat for its eight-point win against a plucky West Adelaide at Peter Motley Oval.
Determined to atone for a disappointing performance against the Eagles in Round 2, the Double Blues looked on track for a comfortable victory when they booted four of the first five goals of the game.
Star midfielder Sam Colquhoun, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a hamstring strain, slotted through Sturt’s first before Josh Hone, Jake Sutcliffe and Jed McEntee all saluted after Riley Thilthorpe’s opener for West.
But it was to be the only form of dominance the hosts would enjoy for the afternoon as the Bloods got a second-quarter spark from Murray Waite, who trimmed the margin to 11 points on the back of his consecutive goals.
Sturt’s Steven Slimming scrubbed a bouncer through from 30m early in the third quarter but the visitors claimed the lead when former Double Blue Ed Allan, making his Statewide Super League debut, snapped truly for West on his left foot.
Slimming again threatened to take the game out of West’s reach when he got on the end of a clever pass over the top from Sturt debutant Tom Lewis, stretching the advantage to 13 points two minutes into the final term.
But consecutive Bloods goals to AFL Draft prospect Thilthorpe and Isaac Johnson, who goaled from 45m along the ground after the ball came to a stop, tied up the scores in the eighth minute.
Magarey Medallist Zane Kirkwood, spending more time in attack this year, set up forward Josh Hone with an unselfish foot pass, putting Sturt in front by six points.
Nippy goalsneak Kenny Karpany then floated across the front of the goal square to take a mark and convert from his close range set shot as the Bloods could sniff an upset.
But livewire Sturt recruit Ash Johnson, who for the second week in succession agonisingly missed another chance to take Mark of the Year in the second term, crumbed the pack and snapped from 10m to seal the win.
Colquhoun made a welcome return to lead his team with 26 disposals as captain James Battersby posted a nice stats sheet of 25 touches, seven tackles and 12 clearances for the Double Blues.
South recruit Abe Davis spent more time in the centre square and had his best game for his new club with 20 disposals and six clearances while Mark Evans continues to relish his place further up the field for 18 possessions and a goal.
Defender Sam Wundke is proving to be the bargain buy of the season after notching 25 disposals and 11 marks, the former Rooster plucked from Adelaide Footy League side Glenunga late in the preseason.
Hone and Jake Sutcliffe booted two goals each while Johnson booted an inaccurate 1.5 as nuggety midfielder Tom Lewis laid 10 tackles on debut for Sturt.
Bloods premiership star Kaine Stevens and utility Brett Turner each had 20 disposals, the latter also collecting 11 clearances.
Thilthorpe continues to progress each match this season, finishing with 13 disposals, six marks and 2.1 in an encouraging display.
Elusive West left-footer Isaac Johnson is also developing nicely this season, booting three goals to go with his 12 disposals and eight tackles.
The Bloods will be hoping ruckman Andre Parrella (illness) and midfielder Dallas Willsmore (groin) will return in Round 4 after being late withdrawals, paving the way for AAMI Rookies Ed Allan and Stuart Taverner, to make their debut on Sunday.
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