SANFL’s Zac Milbank selects his top five games for the 2020 Statewide Super League season.
It’s always a highly-anticipated clash when the previous year’s Grand Finalists go toe-to-toe on Anzac Day. Glenelg fans should be out in force coming off their 33-year premiership drought being broken as their beloved Bays host a match at Brighton Road for the first time on April 25. It will also be the Tigers’ first Anzac Day feature match since 2009. And for Port Adelaide, it is the first opportunity to have another crack at toppling their fierce foe in the wake of last year’s disappointment.
Easter Thursday will provide the perfect platform for this blockbuster between two of SANFL’s most ferocious rivals. With good weather at The Parade under lights, there’s every reason to predict a crowd well in excess of 5000 could be in attendance to watch the Redlegs’ new superstar pair of Richard Douglas and Ryan Bastinac collide with an AFL-listed midfield which could include former Magpies captain Cam Sutcliffe, while new skipper Tyson Goldsack will be patrolling the visitors’ defence.
Sparks could fly when star Sturt recruit Abe Davis (pictured above) confronts his former team-mates for the first time at Unley. One of the few players to switch from one SANFL club to another in the off-season, Davis will also have a point to prove as he aims to make his presence felt in the centre square with the Double Blues. A favourite son for the Panthers, Ben Warren, should be able to provide South with plenty of intel on Sturt given he spent the past five seasons as an assistant at Oxford Terrace. Warren has accepted a role at Noarlunga as forwards coach for 2020.
Both teams begin a new journey with first-year coaches at the helm in what promises to be a fascinating encounter at Oval Avenue. It will be the first time Central District has a senior coach other than Roy Laird hold the magnet board since Round 1 2003. And the Bulldogs will also unleash superstar signing Daniel Menzel for his Statewide Super League debut as he looks to line up alongside younger brother Troy for the first time. Magarey Medallist Jade Sheedy will make his return to the competition in charge of the Eagles, with the club looking to rebound from a rare finals absence in 2019.
Saturday May 2 will be a significant day for Port Adelaide as it celebrates its 150th anniversary with both of its teams (AFL and SANFL) playing at Adelaide Oval. The Magpies will kick things off against North Adelaide in the first of three Statewide Super League double-headers with AFL matches this season, ahead of the Power’s contest against Carlton. The Roosters, desperate to start well after narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon last season, with have no shortage of Port flavour trying to spoil the party, including new coach Jacob Surjan, and former Port players Andrew Moore, Robbie Young and Cameron Hewett back playing in the red and white.