By ZAC MILBANK
South Adelaide eventually overcame its incredible inefficiency as it cruised to a comfortable 37-point win against Central District at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday.
The Panthers led at every change but by as little as six behinds at half-time despite dominating the contest in the majority of key statistic categories.
Making the most of the wind to the southern end to kick 5.7 in the opening term, South kept the Bulldogs in the contest with its inaccuracy in front of goal.
In securing their sixth win of the season, Jarrad Wright’s charges finished with 33 scoring shots to Central’s 16 while also boasting a massive 60-34 inside 50 advantage.
Together with having 49 more handballs than the visitors, the Panthers always threatened to blow the contest open but it wasn’t until South midfielder Ben Heaslip booted his first goal late in the third term that victory was assured.
After being on the end of a chain of quick handballs, Heaslip slammed through his shot from 30m in front just four minutes before the siren for three-quarter time.
Dangerous South forward Beau McCreery then got things moving just a minute into the fourth quarter when his snap landed in the arms of fellow goalsneak Eamon Wilkinson, who kicked his third goal from point-blank range.
Once Heaslip goaled with ease on the run from 45m in front, the hosts had opened up a sizeable advantage in excess of six goals approaching the sixth minute of the final term.
South’s admirable work-rate, which wasn’t initially rewarded on the scoreboard, was even more meritorious considering defender James Loneragan was stretchered from the field late in the first term.
The former Crows’ development player, who appeared to hurt his back while being tackled, was unable to return, leaving South a man short for the final three terms.
South had plenty of contributors as it cemented third place on the ladder, with Joseph Haines fighting off a shoulder concern in the fourth quarter to tally 23 disposals and five marks.
Heaslip’s impact on the game was significant as he collected 23 touches to go with his defining pair of goals, five tackles and four clearances.
South’s Nic Schwarz continues to go about his role with minimum fuss, having 22 disposals, eight tackles and six clearances while Jesse McKinnon and Joel Cross also reached 20 possessions.
Williamstown recruits Paul Hunter and Daly Andrews played their part with 18 disposals each while Wilkinson, Liam Fitt and McCreery were constant threats on goal inside 50m as they booted six goals between them.
Central veteran James Boyd was again at the top of his team’s disposal winners list with 27 while veteran trio Luke Habel, Justin Hoskin and Jarrod Schiller all battled hard.
Jackson Kelly, from Wagga Wagga, continued to show promise for the Dogs, with the son of Swans champ Paul Kelly having 11 disposals and two goals while John Butcher floated back into defence to snare 10 marks to go with his 15 touches.
Defender Dylan Weaver produced a memorable moment for Central fans when he let fly from the wing to score an amazing 75m goal with the aid of the wind in the clip below.
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