By STEVE BARRETT
Glenelg was simply majestic on the King’s Birthday, catapulting to first place on the Hostplus SANFL League ladder with a 105-point demolition of Sturt at Stratarama Stadium.
The top-of-the-table clash, billed as the match of the year, was one-way traffic from the outset as the Tigers, explosively and emphatically, made it eight victories in a row while terminating the previously undefeated Double Blues’ own eight-game winning streak.
The Bays had the bumper public holiday crowd of 7285 in raptures as they slammed seven goals in each of the opening three terms to firm as premiership favourites at the season’s halfway point.
Matthew Allen, the last-ditch match-winner a week earlier against Adelaide, lorded over Sturt with six goals and 27 disposals.
Lachlan Hosie, the competition’s leading goalscorer, booted four majors from his first four kicks, while three-time Ken Farmer Medallist Liam McBean and fifth-gamer Will Chandler chimed in with three apiece.
Luke Partington (31 touches), Corey Lyons (27) and Matt Snook (27) were all prolific, while captain Max Proud and Toby Pink piloted an air-tight defence.
Glenelg’s seven-goal headstart kicking towards the Primary School end was a virtual highlights reel, underlined by Cameron McGree’s monster goal from inside the centre-square and McBean’s 60m bomb, both big men capitalising on Sturt errors.
Jonty Scharenberg’s one-handed, lunging, chasedown tackle of Josh Hone showed the Tigers also meant business at the other end.
Hone finally slotted the Blues’ first goal after the quarter-time siren but any hopes of a fightback were quickly erased in the opening 30 seconds of the second stanza when Chandler shrugged off attempted tackles from James Battersby and Casey Voss, sold candy to Joe Thiele and threaded the needle.
Chandler converted again moments later as the Bay train continued to motor along imperiously.
Glenelg led by 65 points at half-time despite the fact Sturt, with Amos Doyle tireless in ruck, led the hit-outs 30-4.
It was more of the same in the third period, during which Pink, playing his 50th game, almost provided the biggest highlight in a match full of them, with an intercept and launch from beyond 70m, which was just touched as it bounced through the goals.
Hosie snapped his fourth to extend the margin to triple-digits before Allen outmarked Connor McFadyen and nailed his fifth right on the three-quarter-time siren, then added another one to his tally in the fourth.
Battersby (29 disposals, nine clearances) toiled away in a Sturt midfield which sorely missed injured dynamo Tom Lewis, while McFadyen and Voss combined for 15 rebound-50s in a backline which was savaged from start to finish.
The drought is over.
Norwood survived a fourth-quarter scare to snap its 266-day winless stretch with a 23-point victory over South Adelaide at Flinders University Stadium.
The Redlegs booted nine unanswered goals in the middle two quarters to forge commandingly ahead by 57 points before seeing their advantage sliced to just three straight kicks deep into the final term following a spirited rally from the Panthers.
South’s run of six successive fourth-quarter goals breathed life into the contest but the Panthers’ revival was eventually extinguished when Connor McLean, aided by a lucky bounce, slotted his third before Norwood captain Matthew Nunn fittingly nailed the sealer on the run in his 100th Hostplus SANFL League game.
Nunn was chaired off after the win, the Redlegs’ first since last year’s grand final, which put to an end the equal poorest start to any season in the club’s history (they also started 0-8 on 1913) and saw them avoid joining West Adelaide (0-9 in 2016) in suffering through the worst ever start to a premiership defence.
Early on, Norwood was unable to take advantage of a howling gale blowing to the southern end as both teams could muster only one first-quarter goal apiece.
But the Redlegs thrived while kicking into the breeze in the second, Matt Panos goaling on the burst and McLean slotting back-to-back majors to give the visitors a 17-point half-time cushion.
Norwood got right on top in the third, Declan Hamilton booting his second from 50m, before Goy Lok exploded with three goals in three minutes.
Damon Freitag kicked the first two goals of the fourth – South’s first majors since the first term – before Ben Shillabeer added three.
The Panthers’ midfield, led by Mitch O’Neill (25 disposals, nine clearances, nine tackles) and Oliver Davis (23, six, seven) was suddenly chancing its arm and getting right on top, but the rearguard came too late.
Sign up to see all the news from around the SANFL each week – directly in your inbox!