Roosters produce 39-point turnaround to win second SANFLW flag

NORTH ADELAIDE is the toast of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s after the Roosters stormed home with the last six goals of the game to defeat a brave Sturt by 18 points. The Double Blues were incredibly brave in defeat, not willing to be blown away like the semi-final between the sides, leading at each break and by as much as 21 points early in the second term. But the supreme fitness and strength of the experienced Roosters told a story and North Adelaide slammed home three last quarter goals to win, 7.6 (48) to 4.6 (30).

There were more than a few storylines in the result, with coach Krissie Steen collecting her third SANFL Women’s flag, co-captain Kristi Harvey won her fourth, and the most successful coach-captain combination added another chapter to the history books. Having lifted the trophy aloft in 2020, the Roosters failed to defend their flag, but started training in October last year to get to the top of the mountain once again. Sturt, having never won more than three games in a SANFL Women’s season, deserve all the credit coming the Double Blues’ way, having pushed North Adelaide to the extreme. Ruck Zoe Prowse was simply enormous across the four quarters, accepting the best on ground medal from Adelaide Crows teammate Ebony Marinoff.

After running away with a 57-point win in the semi-final, North Adelaide was a hot favourite to take out the premiership, but Sturt had other ideas, applying an immense amount of pressure. The first pressure was scoreboard pressure with young gun India Rasheed marking off the first centre clearance, then with the aid of 25m penalty to put herself within range, slammed home the opening goal of the match. She would add another goal late in the term with a left foot bender from the pocket easily goal of the day.

India Rasheed slots her second goal of the first quarter with a ripping bender from the boundary.

North Adelaide looked a little rattled in the opening term, with some of their usually reliable stars making mistakes by foot and looking uncertain with ball-in-hand. Though Sturt had a couple of shots on goal through Kiera Mueller and Abbey Rigter, it was the Roosters who responded to the first Sturt goal with one through Megan Ryan who took a confidence-boosting mark against Prowse, who had started on fire. Though the Roosters were looking to settle it down, it was Sturt that got on the end of one as Rigter soccered one off the deck to make it two, and then Rasheed’s major in the final minute made it a 15-point lead at the first break.

Any questions as to whether Sturt would be able to keep up the pressure was answered pretty quick, as Rigter kicked an early major, and all of a sudden, the Double Blues were 21 points up and the crowd – which was heavily pro-Roosters was starting to wonder if an upset was on the cards. A number of goal-saving efforts from Lily Whitcombe showed Sturt’s intent, and the Roosters took their turn of not quite making the most of their forward 50 entries. The frustration from the Roosters was clear, as a number of late pushes handed Sturt some free kicks.

Then, it was as if a wave of red and white momentum swept across The Parade. A chaos ball inside 50 created North’s first major chance of the quarter, and an unfortunate slip at the wrong time by Molly Fletcher proved costly and the dangerous Doreena Hansen pounced in the goalsquare. Moments later, bursting out of the midfield, young gun Hannah Ewings got on the end of one and slammed it home and in the blink of an eye, the half-time deficit was back to just eight points.

Hannah Ewings
Hannah Ewings slams home a second quarter goal to cut the deficit to just eight points at half-time. Picture credit: Rookie Me Central

Erica Greet had a massive second term on the wing to lead all-comers with 14 disposals, as well as five marks, four tackles and four inside 50s, whilst Prowse (11 disposals, five tackles, 11 hitouts, four clearances and two inside 50s was a clear best on ground. Alex Ballard (seven disposals, six marks) was a rebounding machine, while Ewings was up to nine touches, two marks, two tackles and a goal for the Roosters.

The third term saw the intensity lift a notch as Sturt held on for dear life with North Adelaide really lifting the tempo. Jaimi Tabb was in the thick of things, whilst it was Sturt having a couple of chances. Kate Harris missed a chance off hands, with the Double Blues having some momentum trying to dig in for one last big push, but some huge intercept marks from the likes of Jamie Parish and Amelie Borg were making life difficult. In the end it was a shank kick from Ewings to Jade De Melo who would kick truly from the pocket. It would be the first of three second half goals for the dynamic forward.

Sturt held up in the third term to remain in front, albeit by just two points and against the wind. At the last change, North coach Steen implored her team to cut out the overuse of handballs and get it long and deep inside 50 to put pressure on the Sturt defence. She knew they had the wind and the legs to get the job done. Without a doubt the Roosters huddle looked the most settled, with plenty of Sturt players looking worse for wear. The support crew reminded them that just one quarter was left in their season and that “nothing will hurt in 20 minutes”.

Unfortunately gfor Sturt, it was a case of needing the first goal, and that went the way of the Roosters 40 seconds in, when Elaine Grigg danced around her opponent and handballed to the free Tabb who slammed it on the boot and put the Roosters in front for the first time in the match. The crowd was getting up and about as they sensed the Roosters were going to storm home. Both Borg and Ella Metcalfe were steadfast in defence, picking off Sturt attempts to go forward, and were building a strong wall at half-forward to ensure the Double Blues had no easy entries. Ryan had a shot on goal out of a forward stoppage that missed, but then the Sturt defensive wall broke.

Grigg won a free kick for too high and put it to De Melo in the square who marked and iced the game. Then kicked one more for good measure after a great pass from Ewings, and the Roosters were in party mode. When the final siren sounded, North Adelaide had won by 18 points, 7.6 (48) to 4.6 (30), had the legs and the experience to get it done, and were just too good in the end.

The jubilation of victory from the North Adelaide players on the final siren compared with the disappointment of the Sturt players. Picture credit: Rookie Me Central

Prowse was a deserving Best on Ground medallist, collecting 20 disposals, two marks – one contested – nine tackles, 33 hitouts, eight clearances, five inside 50s and seven free kicks. Defenders Mueller (16 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and four rebound 50s), Maya Rigter (15 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and five rebound 50s) and Ballard (nine disposals, six marks) were all strong. In midfield, Georgia Bevan, Elsie Dawes, Alisha Gepp and Harris tried hard, while Rasheed was lively in the first half with two goals and finished with nine touches and fou marks – two contested.

The Roosters had plenty of top performers, with De Melo’s three second half goals hard to look past, as she also picked up 14 disposals, five marks – four contested – seven tackles and three inside 50s. She was busy alongside the dangerous Ewings (19 disposals, four marks – one contested – four tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds). On the wing, Greet picked up 20 disposals, six marks, five tackles and five inside 50s, while Ryan worked hard all game against Prowse to record a game-high 22 disposals, three marks – two contested – five tackles, 10 hitouts, five clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. In defence, Harvey had the three marks to go with 11 disposals and six rebound 50s.

It was a good day to be a Rooster, and the North Adelaide faithful celebrated in turn, with the party to continue at Prospect Oval tonight.

NORTH ADELAIDE 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 7.6 (48)
STURT 3.4 | 4.4 | 4.6 | 4.6 (30)


North Adelaide: J. De Melo 3, M. Ryan, D. Hansen, H. Ewings, J. Tabb
Sturt: I. Rasheed 2, A. Rigter 2


North Adelaide: J. De Melo, M. Ryan, H, Ewings, E. Greet, K. Pope
Sturt: Z. Prowse, K. Mueller, M. Rigter, G. Bevan, E. Dawes

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