Glenelg kept its unbeaten start to the season in tact with a workmanlike 10-point victory over Port Adelaide at ACH Group Stadium on Anzac Day eve.
The Tigers narrowly won every quarter in the first match-up between the two sides since the 2019 grand final but the result wasn’t sealed until late in the four-quarter arm wrestle.
Liam McBean (three majors, 23 touches, six hitouts) was awarded the Bob Quinn Medal, as much for his goalkicking prowess as his pinch-hitting in ruck where he nullified the dominance of Magpie duo Sam Hayes and Peter Ladhams, who racked up 60 hitouts between them.
Fellow forward Lachie Hosie jagged five goals while the tireless work across half-back of Michael Virgin (27 possessions, 16 marks) and Sam Durdin (22 disposals, 12 rebound-50s) was decisive given Port’s inside-50s advantage (55-47).
The Bays had more of the footy (350-310 possessions, 100-34 marks), particularly in their back half where they were consistently camped in before regularly working their way forward with patience and precision.
Three late third-quarter goals followed by Kane Farrell’s 60m bomb in the opening moments of the fourth saw the Pies go from 20 points down to level pegging before Glenelg, finally, put the gritty visitors away late when Hosie goaled back-to-back.
Ben Edwards booted three majors for Port while Sam Powell-Pepper (34 touches, one goal, eight clearances) willed himself to every contest and did his AFL recall chances no harm.
A commanding fourth-quarter display saw South Adelaide steamroll Sturt by 39 points at Flinders University Stadium and retain top spot on the SANFL ladder.
The territory battle was largely on the Panthers’ terms all afternoon but it took until an emphatic final stanza – which the home side dominated 5.4 to 0.1 – to finally shake the Double Blues.
Bryce Gibbs (35 disposals) continued his magnificent start to the year, Hayden Sampson (31) – with his dad and South legend Clay watching – enjoyed his best game as a Panther, Joe Haines (26) marshalled the defence expertly and Joel Cross (24 touches, three goals) reaffirmed his greatness.
Casey Voss (26 possessions, 13 rebound-50s) was busy in defence for Sturt and James Battersby (25 disposals, 12 tackles) and Tom Lewis (21, 14) crashed in all day at the stoppages.
Gibbs was particularly active early but South’s waywardness saw the Blues lead by four points at quarter-time.
Matthew Broadbent’s uncharacteristic turnover gifted Zane Kirkwood an easy six-pointer early in the second and back-to-back majors to Josh Patullo and Mark Evans put Sturt 16 points ahead entering time-on.
But it was all South from then.
Small forward Jake Tarca soared for a mark-of-the-year contender late in the third period, flying high above a pack of Damon Freitag, Luke Edmonds and Oliver Grivell before fluffing the sitter.
Not that the miss stopped the undefeated Panthers, who rattled off nine of the last 10 goals to bury the Blues.
Billy Frampton responded spectacularly after being omitted from the Crows’ AFL side by slamming seven goals to steer Adelaide to a 23-point win over Central District at X Convenience Oval.
Frampton nailed five of his majors in an eye-catching first half – including two in the first four minutes – and finished with a match-high 12 marks, nine of which were contested.
With the Bulldogs’ defensive general Fraser Fort sidelined, Frampton saw off three opponents – Thomas Graham, Rhett Montgomerie and Dylan Morton – in his powerful performance, the second time he has notched seven at Elizabeth.
Veteran wingman David Mackay (24 possessions) and defender Josh Worrall (21) generated ample run for the Crows who slotted five of the first six majors and were never headed despite Central’s refusal to concede.
Piloting the Dogs’ rearguard were exciting forward Aiden Grace (five goals) and leadership group trio Luke Habel (31 disposals), Jarrod Schiller (29 touches, eight clearances) and Justin Hoskin (29 possessions).
Central lost Montgomerie to a nasty knee injury in the second term, leaving its under-fire defence further stretched, but the Bulldogs continued to chip away, slicing their 26-point half-time deficit to nine at three-quarter-time.
The margin was just two points after Grace bagged his fifth early in the fourth before Adelaide kicked the next four.