By ZAC MILBANK
North Adelaide survived a spirited comeback to edge out a fast-finishing Glenelg by three points at ACH Group Stadium.
Now the Statewide Super League’s sole undefeated team, the Roosters were forced to defend grimly as the Bays finally sprang to life to kick four of the five goals scored in the final quarter.
But it wasn’t enough to reel in Jacob Surjan’s charges, who benefited from an extremely even contribution despite their inaccuracy in front of goal – North had 24 shots to Glenelg’s 16 – almost proving fatal.
For the majority of the first three quarters, North defended in unison to ensure it would be difficult for reigning premier to score on their home deck.
It wasn’t until the final half-an-hour that Glenelg was able to generate any fluency as Darcy Bailey ran on to a loose ball over the back to trim the margin to 13 points just 60 seconds into the final term.
But then former Carlton rookie Kym Lebois snared his third goal to stretch the difference back out to 20 points for North nearing the ninth minute.
A well-held Lewis Hender looked to have kicked his first major of the game when it just fell short on the goalline for LeBois to pounce from close range.
Mark Stone’s men refused to lie down though, as forwards Luke Reynolds and Liam McBean began to benefit from quicker ball movement inside 50m.
Reynolds flew high for a chest mark from a McBean pass before converting his 30m set shot as the Tigers gained momentum.
Suddenly the Bays had the margin pegged back to just nine points when Reynolds marked on the lead, received a 25m penalty and nailed his second set shot in the space of three minutes.
North forward Robbie Young took a chest mark falling backwards but when he missed his set shot from 35m, the door was still ajar for the hosts to win.
Courageous Carl Nicholson timed his run nicely to crumb at the front of the pack and snap truly along the ground from 20m, putting the Bays within three points.
But with just little over a minute left on the clock, North was able to win the last centre clearance of the game and hold on for a valuable victory.
LeBois was a constant threat around the goals all afternoon, his two majors in the second term arriving at a critical juncture as North began to gain control of the contest.
The speedy left-footer spun out of traffic to snap from 20m before nailing a snap shot from 45m which bounced through to give the North fans plenty to cheer about.
No frills-pair Campbell Combe and Tom Schwarz did a power of work at the stoppages for the visitors, the latter celebrating his 100th League game with 24 disposals and seven tackles.
Jarred Allmond racked up 26 touches for the Roosters, one of them being a successful 55m set shot late in the first term.
North – who had Billy Hartung withdraw from the game with a back injury – had its win soured by Cam Hewett leaving the ground on crutches after the final siren after hurting his foot in the fourth quarter.
Glenelg got plenty of grunt from hardnuts Matthew Snook and Brad Agnew through the midfield, the pair continually throwing their bodies into the contest.
Snook laid a whopping 13 tackles to go with his 27 disposals and six clearances while Agnew had nine clearances and six tackles alongside his 23 possessions.
Jack Hannath found plenty of ball around the ground, the Tigers’ ruckman tallying 21 disposals and 10 clearances with his 31 hit outs.
First-year defender Luke Parks did a solid job of keeping the dangerous Hender under wraps as the Bays missed Marlon Motlop, who was a late withdrawal due to a calf complaint.
By ZAC MILBANK
South Adelaide’s avalanche of inside 50 entries eventually proved too much for Central District to overcome after the Panthers stormed to a 44-point win at X Convenience Oval.
Jarrad Wright’s charges held sway in general play throughout the contest but the visitors didn’t translate their dominance onto the scoreboard until kicking the first three majors of the last quarter.
South’s ascendancy was illustrated by its entries into its attacking 50m arc, leading the Bulldogs 15-5 early in 2nd term, 26-10 at half-time, 39-13 at the final change before finishing with a match-winning 54-20 advantage.
”We just weren’t converting our inside 50s into scores early on so to come away with a win like that in the end was really good,” South veteran Matthew Broadbent told Channel 7 after the game.
The hosts, excited to play their first home match of the season, did their valiant best to stay in the contest, kicking the final two goals of the second term – through John Butcher and Brendan Dew – to tie up the scores at the main break.
It was welcome relief considering South had threatened to kick clear earlier in the second stanza, as Liam Fitt booted an early contender for Channel 7 Goal of the Year with his checkside finish from the boundary line.
But the Dogs soon found themselves on the ropes again when South’s Beau McCreery slotted his set shot after catching veteran Kyle Jenner holding-the-ball and then followed up with an unselfish foot pass to Zac Dumesny, who stretched the margin to 14 points.
Only inaccuracy was preventing the Panthers from shutting Central out of the contest as they led by less than three goals at the final change.
An outstanding piece of solo play from South defender Joe Haines, when he had three disposals on the outer wing before his long ball was marked and converted by ruckman Cam McGree, gave his side a 20-point lead seven minutes into the final term.
It sparked a similar strong finish to the one produced by the Panthers against Glenelg in Round 2 as they banged on a further four goals in succession to gain valuable percentage in what already looms as a close race to the top four.
Haines was superb with his trademark rebound and constructive play off half-back, finishing with 29 disposals and 11 marks to be one of South’s best performers.
Magarey Medallist Joel Cross was equally effective with his 25 touches, his only blemishes coming when he hit the post twice while fellow veteran Matthew Broadbent was penetrating with the majority of his 26 possessions.
McCreery made the most of his 12 disposals to boot three goals without a miss and engineer a vital goal assist as he continues to look dangerous at League level.
In fact, South’s bevy of local youngsters were all promising as McCreery, Zac Dumesny, Reece Milsom, Jaidan Kappler, Eamon Wilkinson and Cam McGree all contributed strongly to the victory.
And yet another AAMI Rookie was blooded when Happy Valley small forward Darnell Tucker finished with 13 disposals and five marks for the Panthers.
Central premiership midfielder James Boyd set a cracking pace to notch 20 disposals during the second term before finishing with a match-high 39.
Troy Menzel was another strong contributor for the Bulldogs as he continues to show off his allround game, collecting 27 disposals, 11 marks and a goal.
Plus the former Crow gave his fans something to cheer about with a soaring screamer on the outer side late in the third quarter.
Central captain Luke Habel was busy setting up play in the back half to register 21 disposals and nine marks while former Redleg Darcy Pisani had 18 handballs and six clearances.
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