By STEVE BARRETT
South Adelaide stormed to its maiden Under-16 Torrens University Cup and first piece of silverware in 26 years after thumping Glenelg by 53 points in Sunday’s grand final at Flinders University Stadium.
The Panthers, without a flag in any Men’s grade since their under-17s saluted in 1995 and in genuine contention for their first league premiership since 1964, had their way with the Tigers with a 12.4 to 2.5 second-half explosion.
In-form South vice-captain Tom Schirmer (15 possessions, one goal, 26 hitouts and a game-high five clearances) was crowned best-on-ground, impressing with his deft ruckwork, bullocking centre-square efforts and strength around the ground.
He was supported in the clinches by Jace Daris (20 disposals) and skipper Tom Wheaton (16), while Jack Delean (15 touches, three majors) and Ryan Pearson (15, two) kept the scoreboard rolling as the Panthers fashioned a decisive 47-32 inside-50s advantage.
“Even though it was a tight first half, we felt our style of footy could wear them down and break them open at some point,” victorious South coach Brett Hudson said.
“When you front up at the start of an under-16s season, you know if you’re going to be successful, you’ll have to get over Glenelg at some point.
“But we genuinely thought we were in a position to stretch them.
“It worked out for us.”
After marginally having the better of a dour opening-quarter arm wrestle, South opened up a 14-point cushion on Jake Agnew’s strong mark and goal early in the second stanza.
Glenelg captain Ben Ridgway goaled thanks to a defensive blue from the Panthers and Josh Altus converted truly after snaring a fine mark as the Bays pinched the momentum and a six-point half-time lead.
South’s response to its indifferent second term was emphatic.
Delean’s smother paved the way for Isaac Churchill’s running six-pointer to tie the scores early in the second half and the Panthers were away, jagging five majors in seven minutes to close the third period ahead by 26 points before getting on a similar roll in the fourth.
Delean, the competition’s top scorer in 2021, nailed two goals in the space of 52 seconds amid a run of four majors in as many minutes for the hosts, whose changing-of-the-guard blitz was irresistible.
Overwhelmed after half-time but far from disgraced in their pursuit of an unprecedented fifth successive premiership, the Tigers were well served by Lucas Camporeale (22 disposals) – the son of 1995 AFL premiership winner and Carlton great Scott Camporeale – and Ridgway (19 touches, two goals, eight tackles).