South surge into Preliminary Final

South's Nic Schwarz celebrates with teammates Jason Horne-Francis (left) and Bryce Gibbs. Picture - David Mariuz

Compiled by Zac Milbank

South’s Bryce Gibbs gets his kick away in front of Norwood’s Mitch Grigg. Picture – David Mariuz

South Adelaide extended its season with a spirited 19-point win against Norwood in the First Semi-Final at Adelaide Oval.

Coming off an impressive 43-point win against North in the Elimination Final, the Panthers were impressive as they led at every change in whilst sending the Redlegs out of the major round in straight sets.

Despite losing star veteran Matthew Broadbent to a hamstring strain in the first half, South progressed to its second consecutive Preliminary Final for the first time since 1964/65 as burly key forward Daniel Nobes nailed a difference-making four goals.

Nobes ensured South’s efficiency was high as his team recorded 10 fewer inside 50s but kicked nine more scoring shots as teammates Eamon Wilkinson and Joel Cross chimed in with two goals each.

Cross’ second major opened up a commanding 31-point lead at three-quarter time but Norwood, who lost ruckman Michael Knoll to a knee injury pre-match, refused to roll over.

Rejuvenated Redleg Lachlan Pascoe booted his third goal of the game, followed by teammate Richard Douglas, who quickly trimmed the margin to 19 points three minutes into the final term.

But Nobes bobbed up again at an important juncture, pushing South’s lead back out to 26 points five minutes later as his team did enough to hold on in the dying stages.

Bryce Gibbs led the way on the stats sheet for South with 31 disposals and 10 clearances while receiving solid support from Mitch O’Neill with 25 disposals.

Key defenders Joey Haines, in his 100th game, and Sam Skinner (13 marks) were important across half-back as Jason Horne-Francis lit up Adelaide Oval with his constructive play from 17 disposals.

While Norwood lost Knoll before the bounce, dual Magarey Medallist Mitch Grigg was also hindered by a back complaint in the second half.

Grigg is expected to officially announce his retirement in the coming days after being clapped off the field first by teammates once the final siren sounded.

Norwood’s Josh Richards (29 disposals) and Nik Rokahr (26 disposals) lifted their output in Grigg’s absence as Harry Boyd battled away in the ruck for 25 disposals and 12 clearances.

Legs captain Matthew Nunn and former Crow Richard Douglas both tallied 23 disposals and a goal.

Norwood’s Jacob Kennerley fires out a handball in between Panthers Liam Fitt (left) and Jason Horne-Francis. Picture – David Mariuz

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