By ZAC MILBANK
Woodville-West Torrens was hungry to prove a point.
No, they couldn’t ever atone for last year’s controversial Preliminary Final loss to North Adelaide.
But they did have the power to make an early statement to the 2018 premier on their home patch at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, something they did to the tune of 25 points on Sunday.
Starting the highly-anticipated rematch without suspended midfielders Jack Firns and Louis Sharrad, together with fan favourite Jimmy Toumpas (ankle), the Eagles were also without forward Nick Hayes (dislocated finger) and debutant Tom Schmusch (AC-Joint) for the second half.
It wasn’t enough to prevent them from making an early dent in the Roosters’ finals aspirations with an impressive third-term purple patch.
The hosts booted a defining five goals in succession shortly after half-time, culminating in the first Statewide Super League major for RAA Rookie Jake Weidemann, who slotted through a 10m checkside after a 25m penalty.
This opened the margin to 35 points in favour of the Eagles, who were fierce at the contest, ensuring they would finish with 23 more inside 50s than their opponents.
Key off-season signings Jordan Foote (28 disposals) and Jesse Lonergan (18 disposals and a goal) slipped in seamlessly while Joseph Sinor showed plenty of signs of returning to the form which earned him the 2017 Powerade Breakthrough Player Award.
With his brother sidelined five minutes into the second term, Jack Hayes stepped up to be a difference-maker in attack for the Eagles, racking up 20 disposals to go with his 4.3 and nine marks.
James Rowe was clean at the contest early in the match, booting three goals and setting up two others while James Boyd, Chris Hall and Matt Goldsworthy were their consistent selves across the four quarters.
A wasteful North outfit, which tallied 8.17 in front of goal, managed to get back within 19 points 31 minutes into the third quarter but a goal to Eagle Jared Petrenko stretched the margin back out to 25 by the final change.
Roosters defender Tanner Smith (25 disposals and 11 marks) was superb all afternoon at centre half-back, often reading the play well to mark the ball himself or ensure a timely spoil was effected.
Former Eagle Jarred Allmond ran hard to notch a game-high 34 touches while unheralded Brock Castree had 28 possessions and set up a certain goal to Lewis Hender with a desperate lunge and handball in the third term.
Starting four premiership points behind the rest of the SANFL teams this season, North has little margin for error, thus making its Round 2 clash with West Adelaide a critical one as it unfurls its premiership flag in front of the Prospect faithful.
The Eagles will look to continue their positive start under new coach Sam Lonergan when they confront Sturt at Peter Motley Oval.
EAGLES 2.2 6.6 12.8 13.12 (90)
NORTH 2.6 4.8 7.13 8.17 (65)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Eagles: Boyd 29, Foote 28, Sinor 27, Hall, Petrenko 26, Goldsworthy, Rowland 25, Poole 23, J. Hayes 20.
North: Allmond 34, Castree 28, Smith, Tropiano 25, Clisby 24, Combe 22, Olekalns 20.
GOALS – Eagles: J. Hayes 4, Rowe 3, Hall, Lonergan, Petrenko, Poole, Redden, Weidemann.
North: A. Barns, Hender, Ramsey 2, Miller, Thring.
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