SANFL Elimination Final – Sturt V Norwood
Review by Sarah List
Stunning day for a football match to see two rivals shape up for the do or die elimination final at Adelaide Oval. Norwood headed into the match strong favourites, having beaten the Blues convincingly just a few weeks earlier in bitterly cold conditions, but the Blue came out with plenty to prove and started the strongest. Jake Sutcliffe showed early that this was going to be his day for spectacular marks, contributing to the first goal of the day early in the first quarter by Mark Evans. Despite their early gameplay generally being cleaner, Sturt allowed couple of quick goals to Norwood’s Gerloff, Bampton and Dawe, putting the Redlegs in front. Some late work by Hone in front of goals saw the first quarter end with the ‘Legs just 4 points in front.
The second quarter opened with a showing of strength from Norwood, with Mitch Grigg dominating play and sneaking a goal within the first 3 minutes. The blistering pace of Wilson continued the Legs strong showing in their 50 zone, kicking their third goal in as many minutes. Sturt started to win a bit more of the ball 10 minutes in, however some inaccurate passing and unforced errors were punished by the Legs, with Dom Barry slotting another major to add to their run of goals. Add another from the dominant Wilson, to take the Legs to 5 for the quarter and Sturt were shell-shocked – this 15 minutes gone missing would haunt them for the rest of the afternoon. Sutcliffe took a soaring mark for Sturt, giving them the second of two quick goals and showing the fight was on. A fantastic running effort out of defence led to another goal for the Blues by Sutcliffe, and the difference was back to a manageable 14 points at half time.
After a neck and neck first half, the third quarter opened at a cracking pace, with Sturt running and moving the ball cleanly and opening their account with a snap goal from Battersby from 45m out. From this point it was goal for goal with crushing tackles applied by Norwood’s Wilson, and the margin had grown by just one point to 15 points in the Leg’s favour at the 20 minute mark. Two back to back goals from Norwood blew this further out, but Sturt kept coming and hit back with a fantastic roving snap by Patullo. Some inspired footwork by Norwood’s Dom Barry kept Sturt on the hop, and pair of late goals to the Legs had them well in front at the final break.
Norwood drew first blood in the final quarter, but the omnipresent Sutcliffe hit straight back with a brilliant goal for Sturt. Inaccurate kicking saw the Legs squander opportunity after opportunity to put the Blues to bed for the season, leaving the door open for Sturt to sneak two goals and suddenly they were back in business. At the 16th minute it was back to 15 points in the Legs favour and a cracking end to the match was on the cards. The umpires questionably denied Sutcliffe what could have been the absolute mark of the season, and there was something about this decision that seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Sturt boys, with Norwood taking full advantage and hanging on for a 14 point win.
This was a rough and tumble match of high skill and lots of flowing play, and has set the Legs up well for their next finals Match vs the SANFL Adelaide side, and they certainly look like they have the edge.
Adelaide V Norwood – First Semi Final will be on Sunday Sept 8 at 12:15pm – Adelaide Oval