By STEVE BARRETT
South Adelaide narrowly claimed the Under-16 Torrens University Cup minor premiership despite suffering a nail-biting one-point loss to Woodville-West Torrens at Flinders University Stadium.
The Eagles trailed at every change before fighting back powerfully, sparked by Brody Mair (25 possessions, seven tackles) and Drew Baxter (three goals).
Ruckman Oscar Pearce snapped his third major in the 20th minute and Dylan Niotis dribbled through the sealer in the dying seconds to pinch a shock victory, the Eagles breaking a four-match losing streak.
Jayden Heinze and Jack Agnew both snared three second-half goals for the Panthers, who still edged second-placed Sturt by 0.11 of a percent ahead of this Sunday’s semi-final against fourth-ranked North Adelaide.
North staved off a stiff late challenge to defeat Norwood by eight points at Coopers Stadium and secure the last finals berth.
In a fourth-versus-fifth virtual mini-elimination final, the Roosters slammed through 4.4 before the Redlegs could blink and were never headed, Norwood’s 4.3-to-1.3 fourth-quarter gallant but too late.
Jakeem Cox, DJ Smith and Owen Kalic snagged three majors each for North, while the competition’s No.1 possession-winner Kane McAuliffe (33 disposals, nine clearances) again ran amok.
William Rowlands (four goals) and Kade Madigan (25 touches, seven tackles) impressed for the Legs.
Four-time reigning premier Glenelg survived a furious finish from Central District to prevail by two points in a thriller at ACH Group Stadium.
After holding sway 5.2 to 1.1 at quarter-time, the Tigers’ lead shrank at each break before the Bulldogs, bravely chasing their maiden win, rattled off three successive goals in the final three minutes, only to run out of time.
Will McCabe – the son of Central great Luke McCabe – booted three majors, including two in the last two minutes, while skipper Trent Tattoli (36 touches, two goals) again led from the front.
Zac Earl kicked three for the Bays, while Bodie Ryan (25 disposals) and Kaidyn Webber (24) found plenty of the pill.
A ferocious start saw West Adelaide upset Sturt by 27 points at Unley Oval, denying the Double Blues top position.
Piloted by forward Jackson Green (three second-quarter majors), intercepting defender Will Patton (32 possessions, 11 rebound-50s) and dangerous midfielder Max Downs (29 disposals, two goals), the Bloods leapt to a massive 59-point advantage (9.6 to 0.1) six minutes into the second term.
Sturt outscored West after half-time and briefly sliced the deficit to 19 points but the early damage was far too severe.
The Blues will take on third-placed Glenelg this Sunday for a spot in the grand final.