By ZAC MILBANK
South Adelaide scrapped its way to a vital 28-point win against West Adelaide at City Mazda Stadium on Sunday.
After having the week off in the wake of their gutsy Round 10 win against Glenelg, the Panthers overcame a tardy start to force their way back into SANFL’s top three.
The visitors went through the opening term without kicking a goal and were not able to register a major until the well-travelled Kyle Emery booted South’s first nine minutes into the second stanza.
In between, Jarrad Wright’s charges continued to let the Bloods off the hook by booting seven consecutive behinds.
Once long-kicking left-footer Liam Fitt notched the Panthers’ second by the 17th minute, they had hit the front as they headed toward a 12-point half-time lead.
By the time former Bloods wingman Mark Noble punished his old side with his sole goal of the game deep into the third quarter, a match-defining 27-point lead had been opened up for the boys in Navy Blue.
Noble was a key contributor in the victory with 24 touches and six tackles while utility Nic Schwarz had 23 and seven clearances.
South veterans Joel Cross and Nick Liddle regularly bobbed up to make their presence felt while former West Coast Eagle Malcolm Karpany provided the class with 22 possessions and a goal.
Resolute defender Joe Haines, who made his West End State team debut this year, continued his eye-catching campaign after finishing with a game-high 33 disposals and 12 marks.
This came after the flame-haired backman took the match-saving mark against Glenelg in Round 10.
West made an encouraging start to the contest after booting the opening two goals of the game during the first term through Gibson Turner and Kaine Stevens.
But then the scoring dried up for the hosts, who were unable to kick truly until fan favourite Jono Beech nailed a six-pointer eight minutes into the third quarter.
Inaccurate kicking prevented the Bloods from creating some scoreboard pressure in the final 30 minutes as they piled on six behinds, including the final three scoring shots of the game as they boldly tried to mount a comeback.
Stevens finished 25 disposals and his first term goal while Hawthorn signing Dallas Willsmore had arguably his best game in the red and black with 29 touches and 10 marks.
SOUTH 0.5 3.10 8.13 9.14 (68)
WEST 2.2 2.4 5.4 5.10 (40)
LEADING DISPOSALS – South: Haines 33, Noble 24, Schwarz 23, Cross, Karpany 22, Liddle 21, Rose 19.
West: Willsmore 29, K. Stevens 25, Batley 23, Hill, Keough 21, Dunkin, J. Evans, Karpany, Levicki 17.
GOALS – South: Cross 2, Cailotto, Emery, Fitt, Karpany, Liddle, Noble, Sampson.
West: G. Turner 2, Beech, H. Haysman, K. Stevens.