By ZAC MILBANK
Norwood has surged into contention for a top three berth after disposing of Sturt by 59 points at Peter Motley Oval.
Now with a place in the finals all but secured, the Redlegs are suddenly eyeing off a double chance in September with games against lowly Central District and West Adelaide to finish off the minor round.
After looking shaky on the back of a four-game losing streak, Jarrod Cotton’s charges have now banked convincing wins against South Adelaide, North Adelaide and the Double Blues to place their opponents on notice.
The manner in which the visitors set up victory against Sturt in Round 16 was particularly impressive, making the most of a strong breeze to boot six goals-to-one before the first change.
Finishing with a spread of 13 goal kickers, Norwood put its stamp on the contest early to earn a 15-2 inside 50 advantage within the opening 20 minutes.
”It was probably our best win for the year – particularly in the tricky conditions,” Norwood vice-captain Matt Panos told Channel 7 after the match.
”We were really happy with the four quarter effort from the boys, our pressure and intensity was great from the start and to kick a few goals in the first quarter really set the tone for us.”
Norwood – with Matthew Nunn influential early – had four goals on the board before Sturt could react through Jake Sutcliffe, who booted the hosts’ first, 25 minutes into the opening term.
But then Declan Hamilton cleverly swung the ball in from the boundary line to cancel out Sutcliffe’s drought-breaker as Norwood took an ominous 32-point lead into quarter-time.
The Double Blues then made the most of the breeze heading towards the northern end, kicking the first two majors of the second term with the margin being trimmed to 21 points when Sutcliffe snared his second five minutes in.
But that was to be Sturt’s last goal until Sam Colquhoun goaled from 45m on the run five minutes into the fourth quarter.
Within this 55-minute period, the Redlegs piled on six unanswered goals to take control of the contest in establishing a 49-point lead at the last change.
Norwood’s contributors were plentiful, with experienced Lewis Johnston and Cameron Shenton leading the way with Nunn as emerging pair Dylan Stephens and Cole Gerloff continued their good form.
This has eased the load on superstar pair Mitch Grigg and Matt Panos, who haven’t been required to produce big numbers for their team to win.
Now with an 0-6 win-loss record against fellow top five sides, Sturt was also dealt a blow when reigning best-and-fairest Tom Harms left the field clutching his left elbow early in the fourth term.
Having recently spent a month on the sidelines after injuring his elbow, Harms was unable to return as he iced his sore spot for the rest of the game.
Double Blues Sam Colquhoun and James Battersby collected 26 clearances between them while captain Zane Kirkwood had 24 disposals.
But the contributions were thin across the board for Sturt, which slipped to fourth place on the premiership table.
NORWOOD 6.3 8.4 12.5 17.7 (109)
STURT 1.1 3.7 3.10 6.14 (50)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Norwood: L. Johnston 30, Shenton 28, Nunn27, Gerloff, Stephens 22, Grigg 21, Panos 19, McKenzie 18, Barry, Georgiou 17.
Sturt: Colquhoun 33, Battersby 26, Kirkwood 24, Riley, Stephens 17.
GOALS – Norwood: Barry, Baulderstone, Dawe, Panos 2, Bampton, Gerloff, Grigg, Hamilton, L. Johnston, Nunn, J. Richards, Smart, A. Wilson.
Sturt: Hone, Sutcliffe 2, Colquhoun, Read.
Port Adelaide ended Woodville-West Torrens’ season with a commanding 63-point win against its neighbourhood rival at Alberton Oval.
Crunching the Eagles from the outset with a confidence-sapping first quarter, the Magpies were dominant with ball in hand as Willem Drew, Scott Lycett and Steven Motlop looked to assert themselves.
Drew – who finished with 38 disposals and five clearances – teamed up nicely with Jack Trengove, Joe Atley and Sam Mayes through the midfield as they made the most of Lycett’s dominance.
Playing his first SANFL League match since Round 21 of 2010, Lycett racked up 30 disposals to go with his eight marks, six tackles, seven clearances and 33 hit outs to be the best player on the ground.
After holding the visitors goalless in the first term, the Magpies didn’t concede until Eagles goal sneak James Rowe snapped truly from 40m two minutes into the second stanza.
This triggered a three-goal unanswered spurt from the hosts, who suddenly led by a match-defining 40 points on the back of Dougal Howard’s second major 11 minutes after the opening change.
The main break didn’t offer much respite for the Eagles as Billy Frampton – returning from a two-match SANFL Match Review Panel suspension – flew high and converted his mark for the first goal of the third term.
It sucked the life out of the Eagles, who will miss the finals for the first time since 2008 after failing to provide any meaningful resistance in the second half.
Recruits Jesse Lonergan and Jordan Foote were high among the leading disposal-winners while Nick Hayes kicked two goals to go with his 21 possessions for the Eagles.
But Port had far too many strong performances, with Steven Motlop finishing with a game-high five goals while classy Kane Farrell and the returning Howard tallied three majors each as their side surged into third place.
PORT 4.5 9.8 14.12 18.14 (122)
EAGLES 0.2 2.3 5.6 8.11 (59)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Port: Drew 38, Trengove 32, Lycett 30, McKenzie 25, Atley 24, Appleton, Mayes 22, Lienert 19, Frampton, Pudney 18.
Eagles: Lonergan 22, N. Hayes 21, Foote, Goldsworthy 19, Rowe 18, Rowland 17.
GOALS – Port: Motlop 5, Farrell, Howard, Woodcock 3, Davidson, Drew, Frampton, Mayes.
Eagles: N. Hayes, Petrenko, Rowe 2, Foote, Moore.
Adelaide gradually wore down West Adelaide to eventually earn a convincing 65-point win at City Mazda Stadium.
The plucky Bloods, who have been tough to shrug during first halves this season, were again up for the fight when they trailed by just 12 points at half-time.
Clever West goalsneak Ken Karpany kicked a nice set shot from the boundary line while Hugh Haysman, enjoying a deserved injury-free run, pounced on an errant Crows kick-in to snap from 40m three minutes into the third term.
But just as the Crows were challenged, they responded on the verge of three quarter-time as clever development player Tom Hutchesson snared a loose ball to snap a goal from 30m.
This gave the visitors a pivotal 23-point lead with just a quarter to play as Myles Poholke (28 disposals and two goals), Patrick Wilson (26 possessions) and Paul Seedsman (25 possessions) continued to take control of the encounter.
The match was effectively over as former Port Melbourne ruckman Kieran Strachan lowered his eyes to hit his Crows captain Matt Wright on the chest in open space.
Wright converted his simple set shot from 30m in front to give his side a five-goal advantage ahead of rattling on the final six goals of the game.
Impressive first-year Adelaide defender Jordan Butts kept up his good touch with 26 disposals and nine marks while fellow draftee Lachlan Sholl had 20 touches.
The Bloods were yet again well served by the tireless Kaine Stevens who had 34 possessions while former Eagle Nathan Batley collected 28.
ADELAIDE 3.4 5.10 8.13 15.15 (105)
WEST 2.3 4.4 5.8 5.10 (40)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Adelaide: Poholke 28, Butts, Wilson 26, Seedsman 25, Sholl 20, Greenwood 19, Davis 18.
West: K. Stevens 34, Batley 28, P. Fairlie, Schmidt 26, Hill, Waite 24, Dunkin, Willsmore 18.
GOALS – Adelaide: Himmelberg 3, Gallucci, McAdam, Poholke, Stengle, Wright 2, Hutchesson, Strachan.
West: Karpany, Keough 2, H. Haysman.