By Peter Cornwall
Tiger Darcy Bailey’s last-gasp shot for goal bounced through for a behind to leave scores locked in a pressure-packed, low-scoring draw between league leader Glenelg and bottom-placed North Adelaide on Sunday at Prospect Oval.
Reigning premier North looked like it was finally set to haul itself off the bottom of the ladder, within seconds of pulling off the upset of the season as it led by a solitary point deep into time-on. But Bailey sharked the ball from the front of a pack at centre half-forward and his bouncing shot went this way, then that way before narrowly missing at the southern end. It was fitting a behind ended the hard-fought clash between these old rivals because scores were incredibly level on 4.15 apiece when the final siren sounded.
The draw was the second for the season for the Tigers, who shared the premiership points with South after a thriller at the Bay in Round 3. The Panthers also drew with Adelaide in Round 4, meaning Glenelg still all but sealed the minor premiership for the first time in 10 years, moving five premiership points clear of the second-placed Crows. The Crows have three games to play before the major round – they face West when the split round is completed on Sunday August 11 – while Glenelg has games against West and Sturt to come.
The Tigers overwhelmed North by 43 points at Glenelg in Round 9 but it soon became obvious the Roosters weren’t going to make it easy for them on their home patch. Glenelg’s attack has been the most potent in the league this season and the Bays have the two leading goalkickers in Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds but the Roosters’ desperate defence shut them down and all over the ground their intense pressure stifled Glenelg’s free-flowing ball movement and handball. The Roosters now are one premiership point behind ninth-placed West with games against South and the Eagles to come.
Emilie Hill became the second woman to goal umpire a SANFL league game in the North-Glenelg clash. Teenager Allanah Bruno had created history last year in Round 9 when she became the first female goal umpire to officiate in a SANFL league game in the Sturt-West clash.
North threw everything at the Bays early on, Alex Barns, Tanner Smith and Lewis Hender missing set shots at goal before a scrambly game was ignited by a touch of class from Magarey Medal hopeful Luke Partington – again one of the best-afield with 28 possessions – and left-footer Reynolds. Partington set up the running Reynolds who perfectly curled around the first goal of the game after 12 minutes. But the clash was fast becoming one of wasted opportunities and, despite fine conditions and little breeze, the last five scoring shots of the opening term were behinds to the Bays, although young gun Darcy Lecornu hit the post and Jonty Scharenberg’s set shot from half-forward was touched on the line.
By the nine-minute-mark of the second quarter a sorry-looking scoreboard showed Glenelg leading 1.8 to 0.5. Livewire Brad Close showed why he is attracting interest from AFL scouts, leaping over the pack for a quality mark, then coolly slotting a goal from 45m on an angle.
The Roosters broke their drought at the 11-minute-mark when Jake Keller read the ball off hands and ran into an open goal. But by half-time there were only three goals to show for a hard-fought game, the Bays burning plenty of chances in leading the forward-50s 26-14 but being only seven points up.
And Glenelg started the third term with three more behinds, Jesse White’s long bomb touched on the line and the Bays leading 2.12 to 1.8. But the Roosters were making life difficult for the top side and a patient build-up led to a Billy Laurie mark and a 25m penalty made sure of the goal. Partington put Glenelg back out by nine points and it wouldn’t have been surprising if the Tigers had kicked on from here. But with Tom Schwarz, Jarred Allmond and Aidan Tropiano having a strong influence and last year’s leading goalkicker Hender starting to look dangerous, the local crowd suddenly was up and about. Hender goaled from a free kick and when dashing Maris Olekalns belted one through on the run in time-on North was in front for the first time since early in the first quarter.
There was another flurry of behinds early in the last quarter, North out by six points before Finn Betterman sharked the ball from a boundary throw-in and snapped a sensational goal, scores level at 4.13 apiece. The Bays momentarily snatched the lead when Brad Agnew bounced a snap through for a behind but Campbell Combe’s snap levelled the scores just before time-on.
Lee Minervini looked like being the last-gasp hero for the Roosters when his banana kick from the boundary thundered into the goalpost at the 22-minute-mark. North desperately battled for the win, Alex Spina pulling off a sensational smother from Michael Virgin’s attempted shot on goal and big Mitch Harvey holding on to an outstanding pressure mark against Tiger McBean. But then Bailey stepped up with his snapped behind, only seconds left after Ben Jarman booted the ball back out, the siren sounding with the umpire
about to bounce the ball on the outer wing. While the gap between the top and bottom teams didn’t look like much, neither side looked delighted with the result. But it was probably a fitting one.
NORTH 0.3 1.8 4.10 4.15 (39)
GLENELG 1.7 2.9 3.12 4.15 (39)
North: Tom Schwarz 29, Jarred Allmond 27, Cameron Craig 22, Tanner Smith, Alex Spina, Aidan Tropiano 21.
Glenelg: Luke Partington 28, Jonty Scharenberg, Matthew Snook 25, Max Proud 20, Brad Close 19.
North: Lewis Hender, Billy Laurie, Jake Keller, Maris Olekalns.
Glenelg: Luke Partington, Finn Betterman, Brad Close, Luke Reynolds.