Two unexpected Round 5 losses to U18s Torrens University Cup competition leaders has tightened things up at the top of the table.
The previously undefeated Sturt and Glenelg went into battle against Norwood and Woodville-West Torrens respectively and both combatants recorded shock defeats, especially the Tigers who were toppled by 71 points.
Heading into the Eagles and Glenelg match at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, Woodville-West Torrens sat fifth with just one win next to its name, while the Tigers were placed atop of the ladder.
However, it was the Eagles who came to play with six goals in the first term, and from there they were never headed.
Woodville-West Torrens linked up well as a team and ran over the top of the highly fancied Tigers outfit.
Eagles AFL Academy SA Hub midfielder Caleb Poulter again led from the front with a team-high 24 disposals, seven marks and six tackles, while bottom-ager Will Neumann was best afield with his 21 disposals, including 15 handballs and two goals.
This midfield dominance – created by Zac Phillips’ 21 hit outs – constantly created goal-scoring opportunities for Eagles forwards Jack Wheare and Jay Watson, who combined for seven goals.
Wheare was effective as a tall forward, booting four goals and taking five marks from seven disposals.
After a tight opening five minutes Woodville-West Torrens were able to capitalise on a turnover in its attacking forward 50m for Jacob Godden to swoop on the first goal.
From there, it was one-way running as the Eagles kicked 12 goals to four in the opening half.
After the main break William Watts (31 disposals and seven clearances for the match) and Kye Dean (25 disposals) began to get their hands on the ball for Glenelg, but the Bays couldn’t stop the constant flow of goals at the other end.
Eagles smalls and Port Adelaide father/son prospects Jase Burgoyne and Taj Schofield were lively inside forward 50 with two goals each.
Torrens University SA U18 coach Tony Bamford said Poulter had been in exceptional touch this season.
“Poulter was again the main driver in the midfield for the Eagles,” he said.
“He was well supported by Max Lister across half-back and Zeke Scott in the midfield.
“Bottom-age players Watson and Neumann we’re also influential along with Burgoyne who was able to continue his solid start to the season.
“For Glenelg, new bottom-age player and exciting small defender Harrison Kaesler showed his ability with sound defence and some exciting passages of play coming out of the back half.”
North Adelaide proved too strong for Central District at Prospect Oval, winning by 38 points.
The Bulldogs started well with three goals to one in the opening term to open up a 10-point lead at the first break.
The Roosters peppered the goal face after quarter time with eight of the nine scoring shots in the second quarter, luckily for the Bulldogs, it only amounted to a wayward 3.5.
North’s tall target Charlie Dowling was the dominant forward on the ground and kicked the Roosters’ 18 points clear when play resumed after half-time.
Dowling booted four goals for the afternoon as well as taking eight marks from 16 disposals.
Aidan Mudge and Finn Reed answered with quick goals for Centrals to reduce the margin back to seven points.
Dowling replied with his third goal not long after and the Roosters ran away with seven of the last nine goals of the contest.
Blayne O’Loughlin was the leading possession winner on the ground with 27 disposals for North, while teammates Matt Borg (25 disposals, 11 tackles) and Kyle Brazell (24 disposals) provided strong assistance.
Shay Linke was the Bulldogs’ leading ball-winner with 22 disposals, which included 20 kicks, 10 marks, seven tackles and five clearances.
Norwood secured an upset victory over the formerly undefeated Sturt, claiming a 26-point win at Peter Motley Oval on Saturday.
It was a tight, low-scoring affair until three-quarter time, before the Redlegs stormed away with four unanswered goals in the last term to spoil the Double Blues’ party.
The scoreline read 6.10 to 6.7 in favour of Norwood at the final break, but Sturt could only manage a further three behinds to the Redlegs’ 4.2.
AFL Academy SA Hub midfielder Tom Powell was again tremendous for Sturt with 38 disposals, including 23 handballs, nine clearances and five tackles as he establishes himself as the premier midfielder in the league (averaging 35.2 disposals).
Powell’s efforts were again supported by Mani Liddy who gathered 27 disposals, but Norwood had a far greater spread of ball carriers with Jack Saunders (34 disposals), Michael Cavallaro (31), Daniel Fairbrother (28), Ben Ianniello (27) and Cooper Murley (27) all exceeding 26 touches.
The same went for goal kicking, with the Redlegs having seven goal scorers, to Sturt’s two with Tom Emmett kicking four goals for the Double Blues.
On what was a perfect day for football across the city on Saturday, South Adelaide and West Adelaide certainly made goal kicking look very difficult with a combined 28 behinds kicked at Hisense Stadium.
The Panthers booted 16 of those behinds but also booted 12 goals in a comfortable 46-point win over the Bloods.
South’s tall midfielder Jason Horne kicked the opening goal of the match inside the first minute, reading a fantastic forward ruck tap from Will Verrall and putting it through from 20m out.
This set up a fantastic day for the AFL Academy SA Hub 184cm midfielder who finished with 31 disposals, seven clearances and three goals.
As a result, he was awarded the Round 5 Torrens University MVP nomination, his performance highlighted in the clip below.
After a tight two-goals-to-three first quarter in favour of the Panthers, South took the game by the scruff of the neck during the second term with four goals to one.
The Bloods were around the mark after half-time but kicked themselves out of the game with 2.6 to South’s 5.9.
West Adelaide AFL Academy SA Hub midfielder Bailey Chamberlain continues to find the ball in a difficult U18 season for the Bloods with another 35 disposals and nine clearances.
Chamberlain is amongst the top five ball winners in the competition, averaging 25.4 disposals from his five matches.