By ZAC MILBANK
Port Adelaide all but secured its place in September after a barnstorming third-quarter propelled it to a 28-point win against South Adelaide at Flinders University Stadium.
Having slipped out of the top three after last round’s loss to Glenelg, the Magpies were clearly on a mission against the equally desperate Panthers, who were seeking to leap back into the top five.
And it was Matt Lokan’s men who put a six premiership point distance between themselves and the hosts after breaking clear after half-time.
After an even first two terms, the Magpies got a vital goal right on the half-time siren when Steven Motlop began to work his way into the contest.
By the time the former Cat had his third for the afternoon seven minutes into the third quarter, Port had suddenly opened up a 25-point lead as the wind started to pick up towards the southern end.
Fighting for their survival, South constructed its best goal of the day when a multitude of Panthers spread quickly to the Grandstand Wing, ushering the ball on by hand and foot until Liam Fitt hit co-captain Joel Cross on the lead.
The dual Magarey Medallist snapped truly from 10m to cut the margin back to 19 points.
But the Navy Blue resistance was short-lived as key forward Charlie Dixon slotted his third goal of the day after converting a mark on the lead less than three minutes later.
The Pies then piled on the next four goals in succession to open up a match-winning 50-point lead by three-quarter time.
Three of the four majors were scored by Port ruckman Peter Ladhams and midfielder Jack Trengove, who were among the most damaging players on the ground.
Ever-improving Ladhams finished his day at the office with 21 disposals, seven clearances, 21 hit outs and three goals while fellow ruckman Sam Hayes was also impressive with 20 possessions, 10 marks and a goal.
Playing his second game back after missing five games with a leg infection, Trengove built on his Round 14 return to tally 25 disposals and two goals after a particularly strong first half.
Dixon finished the game positively after starting slowly opposed to former South captain Brad Crabb, who was giving away noticeable size and strength to the ex-Gold Coast Sun.
Motlop hit the scoreboard with four majors, 15 disposals and seven marks in an encouraging display after quarter-time.
Kicking with the breeze to start the final term, South was unable to get the scoreboard ticking over until Abe Davis booted the first of three fourth quarter goals 10 minutes in.
The former Swans Academy member looked dangerous in attack but the restoring of respect on the scoreboard came far too late for South in Matt Rose’s 150th game.
The milestone man left the field with his head held high after collecting a game-high 30 disposals to go with his seven marks and nine tackles.
Tyson Brown and Joe Haines read the play well for the Panthers off half-back to get 19 touches each while Cross and Malcolm Karpany continually looked dangerous for the hosts.
But it wasn’t enough for Jarrad Wright’s men, who now sit in seventh place, four premiership points adrift of fifth-placed Norwood.
PORT 2.2 6.5 14.7 15.9 (99)
SOUTH 2.2 5.4 6.5 10.11 (71)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Port: Atley, McKenzie 27, Drew 26, Trengove 25, Ladhams 21, Hayes, Mayes 20, Lienert, Pudney 19.
South: Rose 30, Cross 24, Karpany 22, Brown, Davis 19, Haines 18.
GOALS – Port: Motlop 4, Dixon, Ladhams 3, Marshall, Trengove 2, Hayes.
South: Davis 3, Biemans, Cross, Heaslip, Karpany, Milsom, Overall, Whittlesea.
A blistering third-quarter attack all but cemented Norwood’s place in the top five as it romped to a 71-point win against North Adelaide at The Parade.
Coming off a confidence-boosting victory against South Adelaide in Round 14, the Redlegs went on a similar rampage in the third quarter against the Roosters as it did in the fourth term eight days earlier against the Panthers.
This time the hosts – with Anthony Wilson and Matt Panos prominent with five goals each – piled on nine goals to North’s two, turning a 14-point half-time lead into a match-winning 60-point advantage at the final change.
In just 96 seconds after the main break, Panos got things rolling with the first goal of the third term en route to kicking three during the devastating period, while Wilson booted two of his fist full as the red-and-blue avalanche overwhelmed the visitors.
Norwood led North in all the major statistic categories except for tackles as it transformed its 14 extra inside 50 entries into a significant advantage on the scoreboard.
Redlegs ruck Sam Baulderstone produced a monster performance with 27 possessions, 10 marks, six clearances and 33 hit outs.
Panos made a welcome return to form with 23 possessions, 10 marks and five clearances to go with his equal game high five majors.
And the emergence of youngsters Cole Gerloff and Dylan Stephens, who gathered 26 touches each, continues to take the pressure of dual Magarey Medallist Mitch Grigg, who had 24 and a goal.
Their efforts all contributed to Norwood strengthening its hold on fifth spot, as it made the most of six-placed Woodville-West Torrens and seventh-placed South Adelaide both losing in Round 15.
Unable to get meaningful reward on the scoreboard in the opening term after booting five behinds, the Roosters were overcome by their hungry opponents in the second half.
North midfielders Campbell Combe and Tom Schwarz each collected 30 touches to lead the way while defender Cameron Craig had 22 disposals in his 100th Statewide Super League match.
Clever small forward Frank Szekely continued his improvement to chalk up 22 disposals and three goals while Tanner Smith stood tall in defence to have 21 possessions and eight marks.
NORWOOD 2.0 7.5 16.10 22.11 (143)
NORTH 0.5 4.9 6.10 10.12 (72)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Norwood: L. Johnston 31, Baulderstone 27, Gerloff, Stephens 26, Grigg, McKenzie 24, Panos 23, Hamilton 22, Shenton 21, Nunn 20.
North: Combe, T. Schwarz 30, Allmond 23, C. Craig, Neagle, Szekely 22, Smith 21, Spina 19.
GOALS – Norwood: A. Wilson, Panos 5, Bampton, Barry, Gerloff, Nunn 2, Georgiou, Grigg, J. Richards, Stephens.
North: Szekely 3, Hender, Minervini 2, A. Barns, Laurie, T. Schwarz.
Sturt maintained its place in the top three with a fighting 25-point win against Woodville-West Torrens at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval.
Led by a superb six-goal haul from Ken Farmer Medallist Mark Evans, the Double Blues continue to stamp themselves as a premiership contender.
Restricting the Eagles to just one goal – scored by ruckman Jarrad Redden six minutes into the first term – up until the main change, Sturt constructed its win in the second quarter.
Celebrating the milestones of Fraser Evans (150 games) and Sam Colquhoun (100 games), the visitors booted an efficient 4.3 to the Eagles 0.2 as the hosts had a lowly 1.8 at half-time.
Mark Evans mirrored his team in the third quarter as he booted three of Sturt’s six goals to engineer a 37-point lead at the final change.
Evans got wonderful support inside attacking 50m from last week’s six-goal hero in Josh Hone and Jake Sutcliffe, who booted three each while strong-marking Josh Patullo also registered one on the scoreboard.
Ball magnet Colquhoun racked up 32 touches, nine marks, eight tackles and five clearances to celebrate reaching triple figures in fine style.
Sturt captain Zane Kirkwood and star midfielder James Battersby combined for 20 clearances as they got things moving for the visitors at the stoppages.
Defender Tom Harms made a welcome return from an elbow injury to tally 21 disposals and 11 marks while the other milestone man in Fraser Evans had 19 possessions.
The important victory kept Sturt’s nose ahead of Port Adelaide as the Magpies also won in Round 15, with the Double Blues eyeing off the double chance with a superior percentage.
In contrast, the Eagles will now need to rely on other results falling their way to sneak into the top five after losing their past two matches.
Sam Lonergan’s charges are now four premiership points and 0.3 percent behind fifth-placed Norwood, which cruised to an easy win against North on Sunday.
Former Sydney Swan Jordan Foote enhanced his reputation again with 28 disposals, nine marks and four clearances while Nick Hayes had 24 touches, seven marks and a goal for the hosts.
Veteran Eagle Scott Lewis made a welcome return to the League line-up with 23 disposals, eight tackles and a goal.
STURT 1.1 5.4 11.6 13.8 (86)
EAGLES 1.6 1.8 4.11 8.13 (61)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Sturt: Colquhoun 32, Kirkwood 28, Battersby 27, Slimming 23, Pearce 22, Harms 21, F. Evans 19, Crocker 18.
Eagles: Foote 28, N. Hayes 24, Lewis 23, Lonergan 21, Sharrad 20, Goldsworthy 19.
GOALS – Sturt: M. Evans 6, J. Hone, Sutcliffe 3, Patullo.
Eagles: J. Gaffney, J. Hayes, N. Hayes, Lewis, Petrenko, J. Redden, Rowe, Sharrad.