2020 Preliminary Final
Eagles 16.15.111 def Panthers 10.8.68
Match Review by Sarah List
The South Adelaide faithful have been waiting for another tilt at the flag since 1964, and after a strong season culminating in last week’s defeat of defending premiers Glenelg, 2020 looked to be their best shot in recent times.
Despite finishing minor premiers, the Eagles have suffered a number of defeats at the hands of fast moving teams that have shown up their reliance upon their defensive zoning game. Pace is one of the strengths of the Panthers, so it was shaping up to be an intriguing contest to see whether this would be able to upset the Woodville-West Torrens defensive trap.
Even before the first bounce, the Eagles brought their physical game in an attempt to shake up the Panthers. However from the outset of play it was the Panthers with all the forward push, and after a great pickup and quick handball under pressure from McCreery to Wilkinson, their first major was on the scoreboard.
The Eagles were unruffled though, and at the 9 minute mark they had a reply from Lowson, then a second goal within a two minutes of that to Hayes.
South kept their cool under pressure, as Wilkinson stabbed a reply through, and Bogle completed a smart snap around the corner under pressure at the 23rd minute. South just too quick with their hands and piled on another pair before Rowe clawed one back for the Eagles. South were up by one kick at the first change.
The second quarter opened with hard and contested gameplay. Foote scored at the fourth minute mark, and 25 metre penalty led to his second goal in four minutes and put the Eagles in front by 5pts. South rose to the challenge via Overall, who took a big contested mark 15 metres out from Panther’s goal and converted easily.
The crowd kicked up a notch as the umpires overlooked what seemed to be straightforward infringements, and the Eagles took the advantage of the uninterrupted gameplay to score via Poole.
There was just one point in it at half time, as the teams’ frustration boiled over and shirt-fronting began.
In the third, the umpire’s hands-off approach continued and appeared to give the Eagles the psychological edge. Rowe emerged as a danger man for the Eagles, breaking through for two majors after some sloppy play by Souths.
South stopped running and the Eagles were capitalizing. At 14 points down, the Panthers needed the next goal to keep their finals alive. Instead Rowe swept in for a third, blowing out the eagles lead to 20 which was the largest margin of the day.
Wilkinson clawed one back for the Panthers, but the teams errors outweighed their forward movements. South seemed to have downshifted a gear, playing into the eagles hand by moving the ball slowly and giving plenty of time for the Eagles steel trap to disrupt the Panther’s possession and turn the ball over. The Eagles were winning contested possessions and holding their clean possessions.
Seven goals to one in the third quarter had the Eagles up by 38 at the final change. South had gone missing in what had been their most consistent quarter of the season. Could the nerves be costing them their chance at the flag?
The fourth quarter was a much more evenly matched battle, but by this stage the Panthers looked tired and their heads dropped with ever turnover or interception. Their spirit seemed broken, which was a really disappointing way to see them play out what turned out to be their last quarter of the season.
This match was not the way that the Panthers intended to complete their 2020 season, but they were outplayed for three full quarters where they needed to be at their peak. The Eagles finals experience really placed them in the box seat to direct the traffic in the match, and they ran out winners by a convincing final margin of 43 points.