Norwood booked its place in the 2020 U18 Torrens University Cup Grand Final with a tearaway 52-point Second Semi Final win over minor premier Sturt at Thebarton Oval on Saturday.
Redlegs tall forward Finn Heard was a step above with seven scoring shots from his nine disposals, including five goals and four marks.
Mirroring Mason Cox’s strong marking and accurate kicking effort for Collingwood on Saturday night, Norwood midfielders had the confidence to kick the ball quick and long to Heard who either provided a contest or marked himself.
After trailing the Double Blues early in the match, the Redlegs on the board through Xavier Tranfa and they went on to kick the next four goals to put space between themselves and their opponents.
Heard’s second goal at the 23-minute mark of the second term had Sturt trailing by 23 points and the Blues managed to get the margin back under two goals early in the third quarter before Norwood put its foot down again.
Heard kicked two-third quarter goals in a string of six unanswered Redlegs majors to get the margin out to 48-points at three-quarter time.
Sturt kicked three final-quarter majors but it was nowhere near enough as Norwood went on to cause the upset and secure its grand final berth.
Ethan Schwerdt (27 disposals) and Henry Nelligan (25 disposals and four clearances) were fantastic for the Redlegs, while Zac Bishop provided handy support in the forward line with three goals.
However, a key factor contributing to Norwood’s victory was its team defence on limiting prolific Sturt midfielder Tom Powell to his lowest Torrens University Cup disposal tally of the season, 18, with Nelligan lining up on him at most stoppages.
Powell has averaged 34.9 touches this season, the most in the competition with a season high of 47 disposals.
For the Double Blues, Mani Liddy had 22 disposals, 10 clearances and five tackles, while Brad Jefferies had 20 disposals and kicked a goal.
Sturt will now face Woodville-West Torrens in this Saturday’s Preliminary Final at Thebarton Oval.
Woodville-West Torrens defeated South Adelaide in a high scoring thriller at Thebarton Oval to progress through to next Saturday’s Preliminary final.
The Eagles secured an 11-point win in the knock out First Semi Final and will take on the Double Blues for a spot in the Grand Final against Norwood.
Following an extensive investigation, Woodville-West Torrens will be sanctioned by way of an undisclosed fine for having 19 players on the field for a short period of time in the fourth term.
SANFL found that the club had an extra player on the field for a period of no more than 40 seconds at around the 20 minute mark of the final quarter. The breach was highlighted following a goal scored by the Eagles, at which time the field umpire counted seven players in the forward zone for the Eagles in the mandatory player count (6/6/6) prior to a restart. The 19th player subsequently left the field immediately.
However, SANFL was satisfied that the breach of regulation was inadvertent and did not have any impact on the outcome of the match.
The third-placed Eagles led for most of the afternoon and despite finding themselves nine points down midway through the third term, Woodville-West Torrens found a way to edge itself back in front and claim the win.
Much of the first quarter went goal-for-goal before an Eagles surge meant they were 23 points up early in the second term when Zeke Scott converted a long, running goal.
But from there, the middle portion of the game belonged to the Panthers who crept themselves back in the match with seven of the next nine goals to take the lead.
Woodville-West Torrens’ star-studded midfield, led by Jase Burgoyne, Caleb Poulter and Taj Schofield, started to find the ball and tipped the scales back in their side’s direction.
Burgoyne finished with 22 disposals and a last quarter goal, while Poulter had 20 disposals and Schofield 19.
South’s Max Clifton and Matt Roberts led the disposals on the ground with 26 and 24 respectively and four goals from forward Arlo Draper wasn’t enough to scrape the Panthers over the line.
Langhorne Creek product Roberts also kicked two goals from the midfield as his Panthers’ campaign ended for season 2020.