By PETER CORNWALL
Sturt stormed into the finals with a stunning 12-point win against minor premier Glenelg at Peter Motley Oval.
The Blues went into the clash knowing they had to beat the high-flying Tigers to be certain of competing in the major round for the fourth successive season but they also knew they would have to earn it – Mark Stone’s talented Glenelg line-up had lost just two of its previous 23 games.
Sturt, beaten at home in the previous two weeks by Norwood and Port Adelaide, set up the triumph with five goals to one with the strong breeze in the opening quarter but had to dig deep to claim the crucial win when the Tigers stormed home to the northern scoring end in the last term.
When Luke Reynolds soared over the pack for a spectacular mark, then slotted his second goal at the 14-minute-mark of the last quarter Glenelg was within just five points and looked primed to charge to its 14th win of the minor round.
But, despite kicking into the teeth of the strong wind, the Blues refused to concede their season was over. With human wrecking-ball Aidan Riley crashing through packs with a single-minded determination to get his hands on the footy first – he won a staggering 18 clearances in a remarkable performance – Sturt owned the decisive next 10 minutes of the game.
Steven Slimming earned a free kick 50m from goal – out of his range – but he handballed to defender Fraser Evans, who charged past and bombed a massive left-foot goal from 50m.
Tall forwards Jake Sutcliffe and Josh Patullo followed with majors and the Blues were out by 24 points at the 26-minute-mark, their elimination final spot sealed against long-time rival Norwood.
Glenelg kept coming for consolation goals from Jonty Scharenberg and Darcy Bailey but there was no late goal for Reynolds, who was left one goal short of sidelined team-mate Liam McBean in the race for the Ken Farmer Medal.
Hard-running Sam Colquhoun, the highest possession-winner in the SANFL this season, set the Blues on their way all day with 36 disposals, ever-improving 21-year-old ruckman Daniel Fahey-Sparks won a whopping 46 hit-outs, Matthew Crocker and skipper Zane Kirkwood earned plenty of the footy and Patullo stood tall on a day that seemed over for him when he was carried from the ground on a stretcher after a heavy knock early in the second quarter. He returned for the second half his head swathed in bandages and finished with four crucial goals.
Tigers midfielder Luke Partington again showed the touches of class that have him standing out as Magarey Medal favourite, earning 28 possessions, while powerpacked dual All-Australian under-18 defender Will Gould had 10 rebound-50s in his 22 clearing kicks as he continued to display what a bright future he has in the game.
Carl Nicholson provided plenty of dash with 21 touches in his first league game since Round 6 after being struck down by an Achilles injury.
Mark Stone’s Tigers, having earned their first minor premiership in a decade, have a week off before coming up against the winner of the Port v Adelaide qualifying final in the second semi-final on Sunday, September 8.
STURT 5.0 6.3 8.10 11.11 (77)
GLENELG 1.3 3.5 4.8 9.11 (65)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Sturt: Colquhoun 36, Crocker 26, F. Evans 25, Riley 23, Kirkwood 21.
Glenelg: Partington 28, Gould 27, Agnew 23, Nicholson 21, Motlop 20.
GOALS – Sturt: Patullo 4, Sutcliffe 2, M. Evans, F. Evans, J. Hone, Pearce, Read.
Glenelg: Bailey 3, Reynolds 2, Motlop, Agnew, Slade, Scharenberg.
By ZAC MILBANK
South Adelaide fell at the final hurdle to sneak into the top five despite outlasting Adelaide by seven points in an entertaining battle at Flinders University Stadium.
The Panthers upheld their end of the bargain in terms of finals qualification by earning the two premiership points against the higher-ranked Crows.
But after Norwood defeated West on Friday night, Jarrad Wright’s charges were denied entry to the major round after Sturt toppled minor premier Glenelg at Peter Motley Oval.
It meant the Navy Blues’ two retiring stars in Brad Crabb and Nick Liddle were fittingly chaired off Noarlunga for the final time, with both players rated as the club’s top two best players in their final SANFL outing.
Liddle, who announced his retirement on Wednesday, finished with an equal game high 31 disposals to match in form defensive team-mate Joseph Haines.
In defence, Crabb was his miserly self as he repelled countless attacks with his customary spoils in marking contests.
Sensing the urgency of the occasion, South started the contest with genuine purpose with co-captain Joel Cross pushing the lead out to 20 points when he took a gutsy mark, played on and goaled on the run from 25m in front.
But Adelaide captain Matthew Wright stepped in to drag his side back into the match with two quick majors, one a clever soccer off the ground in the goal square after a rare error from Haines.
With the lead trimmed back to just one point at the main change, South started better after half-time to push the advantage back out to 16 when Ben Heaslip marked a lateral pass from Malcolm Karpany and converted his set shot from 35m.
Adelaide then cut the deficit back to 10 points on the back of Rory Atkins’ converting his free kick for over the shoulder from a 40m set shot.
But momentum soon swung back in favour of the hosts, who unfortunately lost experienced utility Ben Haren to injury late in the third term.
After being tackled by Adelaide’s Ben Davis, Haren had to be stretchered from the field and was unable to return for the final quarter.
The five-minute delay seemed to help the Panthers, who goals immediately after the restart as Cross cleared the ball from the stoppage to Abe Davis for a classy 20m snap on goal.
A game-high lead of 24 points was earned by South in the 10th minute of the fourth quarter and while the Crows four of the last five goals of the game, it wasn’t enough to creep in front by the final siren.
Aside from the ultra-consistent Patrick Wilson, who cut the margin to just six points with a long range goal late in the fourth stanza, the Crows had strong showings from Myles Poholke (26 disposals) and defender Lachlan Sholl (21 disposals).
Ruckman Reilly O’Brien was also solid with 20 disposals, six clearances and 38 hit outs for the Crows.
Outside of Haines, Liddle and Crabb, South was well served by Cross (24 disposals and a goal) Davis (24 disposals and two goals) and co-skipper Matt Rose (27 possessions and 11 tackles).
SOUTH 4.3 7.3 10.7 12.11 (83)
ADELAIDE 2.1 7.2 8.4 12.4 (76)
LEADING DISPOSALS – South: Haines, Liddle 31, Rose 27, Cross, Davis 24, Heaslip 19, Milsom 18, Brown 17.
Adelaide: Wilson 31, Poholke 26, Sholl 21, O’Brien 20, Wright 18, Seymour 17.
GOALS – South: Overall 3, Davis, Fitt 2, Cross, Heaslip, Sampson, Whittlesea, Wilkinson.
Adelaide: Atkins, McAdam, Stengle, Wright 2, Davis, Himmelberg, Strachan, Wilson.
By ZAC MILBANK
Port Adelaide primed itself for the Qualifying Final with a confidence-boosting 90-point thumping of Central District at X Convenience Oval.
Set to tackle arch-rival Adelaide under lights at Adelaide Oval next Saturday night, the Magpies looked irresistible as they dampened the farewell game for Bulldogs premiership coach Roy Laird.
Leading at every change and increasing their lead in each quarter, Matt Lokan’s group were powered by a seven-goal master-class from star forward Billy Frampton.
Frampton not only had 11 shots on goal for a commanding tally of 7.4 but he also hauled in nine marks to go with his 18 disposals as Laird was left searching for someone to quell his influence.
Four of the West Australian’s majors came in the fourth quarter as the visitors piled on nine goals to the Bulldogs’ two after the final change.
Star Port midfielder Jack Trengove has well and truly returned to the red hot form which helped him blitz the early part of the season, racking up 34 disposals, 11 marks and five tackles.
Former Brisbane Lion Sam Mayes also had 34 possessions, eight marks, five tackles and eight clearances for the Pies while captain Cam Sutcliffe got on the goal kickers list while also racking up 25 touches.
First-year draftee Zak Butters had 27 disposals and a goal in his first Statewide Super League game while clever forward Tobin Cox made a welcome return from a kidney laceration to boot five goals with his 17 possessions.
The Bulldogs – who suffered from the absence of late withdrawal Justin Hoskin (hamstring) – were their own worst enemy in the first quarter, engineering three more shots on goal but failing to apply any scoreboard pressure to trail by 12 points at the opening change.
Central ball magnet Travis Schiller had 20 disposals at half-time before finishing with 29 while his brother Jarrod and fellow veteran Luke Habel were the only other Dogs to surpass 20 touches.
Wodonga recruit Jydon Neagle finished the season strongly to boot four goals to go with his 18 possessions while second-gamer Oliver Shaw kicked his first goal in League football nearing time-on of the third quarter.
But ultimately there weren’t enough contributors for the overwhelmed hosts, who fittingly played Green Day’s track ”Time of your Life” in honour of the departing Laird, who wished to not have any fanfare following the final siren.
PORT 5.1 10.8 13.12 22.17 (149)
CENTRAL 2.7 3.8 6.11 8.11 (59)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Port: Mayes, Trengove 34, Butters 27, Atley 26, Lienert, Sutcliffe 25, Woodcock 21, Frampton 18, Cox, Farrell, Johnson 17.
Central: T. Schiller 29, J. Schiller 24, Habel 21, Jydon Neagle 18, Jenner 16.
GOALS – Port: Frampton 7, Cox 5, Farrell 2, Butters, Hayes, Howard, Johnson, Ladhams, Mayes, Sutcliffe, Trengove.
Central: Jydon Neagle 4, Fort, Gillard, J. Schiller, Shaw.
By PETER CORNWALL
They cut it pretty fine but reigning premier North Adelaide has finally cast aside the wooden spoon.
After West Adelaide was beaten by Norwood on Friday night, the Roosters knew a win against Woodville-West Torrens at home would lift them above the Bloods and avoid the ultimate rollercoaster over the past three seasons of 10th, to top, to 10th again.
Ninth placing sounded so much better for Josh Carr’s men, who claimed their fourth win of a disappointing campaign (to go with a hard-fought draw against Glenelg) to finish on five premiership points – one ahead of Westies.
The Roosters, who had been deducted four premiership points this season for having 19 men on the field for a short time in last year’s preliminary final win against the Eagles, had to scrap hard before beating the Eagles this time by 13 points, getting off bottom place for the first time in the season.
The home side, inspired by hard-working on-baller Aidan Tropiano’s 29 touches and 10 clearances, set up the win with a four-goals-to-one third quarter, having trailed by nine points at the main break.
Loping left-footer Billy Laurie booted four goals for the Roosters, while long-kicking Jarred Allmond kicked three goals from his 27 touches and 14 marks.
The Eagles’ Scott Lewis made his mark in his 205th and final game before retiring, earning 20 touches and the 84th goal of a wonderful career. But he did not get the win he so desperately was looking for, the Eagles finishing in seventh spot with eight wins and 10 losses.
NORTH 3.1 4.3 8.8 10.10 (70)
EAGLES 2.0 5.6 6.6 8.9 (57)
LEADING DISPOSALS – North: Aidan Tropiano 29, Jarred Allmond 27, Tanner Smith 24, Alex Barns 22, Tom Schwarz 21.
Eagles: Jack Hayes 22, Scott Lewis 20, Matt Goldsworthy 19, James Boyd 18, Angus Poole, Jake Westbrook 17.
GOALS – North: Billy Laurie 4, Jarred Allmond 3, Alex Barns 2, Sam McInerney.
Eagles: Nick Hayes 2, Jack Hayes, James Rowe, James Boyd, Scott Lewis, Ben Nason, Angus Poole.