2023 SANFLW R1 wrap: South stops Sturt
SOUTH Adelaide had the perfect start to its 2023 South Australian National Football League (SAFNL) Women’s season, winning a hard-fought, often scrappy contest against reigning runners-up Sturt. Still showing signs of rust in terms of efficiency, both sides were pressured all over the ground, forcing plenty of missed chances. In the end, though both would have rued missed shots, it was the Panthers who still came away with the four points, 3.5 (23) to 1.9 (15).
Sturt would not be too disheartened from the effort, with goalkicking no doubt a focus for the Double Blues this week after kicking six straight behinds in the first half, then not scoring in the third term. Despite that, Sturt remained in the contest right up until the last minute, when a Tahlia Walker set shot hit the post. Earlier in the term, Abbey Rigter had finally put one through the big sticks for Sturt’s first major of the contest, answering what looked to be a match-winning goal from South forward Lucy Northcott.
For South, performances from young guns Brooke Boileau and Holly Ifould on the inside and outside respectively would have pleased coach Rick Watts, as the Panthers dominated the clearances, 29-19. Unfortunately the inside 50 entries for both sides let down the respective forward chances, though the high tackle count (92-76 in favour of Sturt) showed both teams were up for the fight.
Similarly for the Panthers, talls Jorja Hooper and Soriah Moon both made successful recoveries from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, with the latter being close to best on ground, particularly in the first half. Young Northern Territory forward Kyanne Campbell kicked a crafty goal on debut, before having to come off through injury, while first gamers, 2007-born Bella Rigby and Lily Baxter both had glimpses.
For Sturt, the Double Blues did not quite have the connection going inside 50 quite yet, though winning the inside 50 count off a large clearance disparity meant it was not all doom and gloom for coach Michael O’Connor. The visitors had 27 inside 50s to 25, with Adelaide Crows listed defender Kiera Mueller a clear standout back at SANFL Women’s level. She and midfielder Alisha Gepp were the two biggest ball-winners in the game with 25 and 23 disposals apiece, as Gepp (six clearances) battled hard against a deep South midfield.
Missing bottom-ager India Rasheed up forward due to a precautionary niggle, as well as key forward Amy Brooks-Birve, the Double Blues only managed to kick the one major through Rigter, but had their chances. Walker kicked two behinds, while the likes of Ally Ladas and Alex Pearce both had gettable shots. Debutant Monique Bessen picked up 10 disposals and most notably late five tackles in the loss, almost kicking her first SANFL Women’s goal before it was touched on the line.
SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 3.5 (23)
STURT 0.3 | 0.6 | 0.6 | 1.9 (15)
South: K. Campbell, S. Moon, L. Northcott
Sturt: A. Rigter
South: S. Moon, B. Boileau, H. Ifould, S. Gulden, J. Smith
Sturt: K. Mueller, A Gepp, K. Harris, G. Bevan, A. Healy
AROUND THE GROUNDS
As covered in our SANFL Women’s Match of the Round report on Saturday, North Adelaide recorded a two-point victory over Norwood. In what turned out to be the highest losing score on record, the Redlegs kept coming until the final siren, scoring 7.8 (50) to the Roosters’ 7.10 (52).
A goal to reigning leading goalkicker Alana Lishmund with five minutes to go cut the deficit to a point, but the experience of the Roosters, lead by co-captains Kristi Harvey and Jess Edwards held firm. The ruck battle between two new faces at their respective clubs, Georgie Jaques and Isabelle Starmer was a highlight of the game.
Up north at Elizabeth, Central District looked ultra impressive in its win over Woodville-West Torrens Eagles. Finally able to get on the board in Round 1, the Dogs arguably should have won by more had they capitalised on a dominant third term where they kicked 1.3 to 0.0. Central ended up winning the match 4.6 (30) to 2.5 (17), but again looked the most vulnerable in the last term, similar to the trial match between the sides.
Captain Shelby Smith lead from the front with 28 disposals, three marks, five clearances and five tackles despite copping heavy attention from the opposition, while Caitlin Wendland and Lauren Breguet were crucial in the victory. Leah Cutting was the standout for the Eagles, playing a key role in defence.
Over at Hisense Stadium, top AFLW draft prospect Lauren Young made her return to playing coming off an ACL injury with success, booting 1.3 from 15 disposals and seven marks. Two of those behinds hit the post, and another shot set to sail through was marked on the line by Kelly Barltrop, indicating that Young could easily have walked away with four goals with a bit of luck.
Zoe Venning was once again a workhorse around the stoppages, while in defence, Iilish Ross was all polish, and Lucy Boyd stepped up. For Glenelg, Piper Window and Ellie Kellock battled hard on the inside, as did Madisyn Freeman who thrived on-ball racking up an equal game-high 23 touches, and a competition round-high of 10 clearances.
ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Norwood 7.8 (50) defeated by North Adelaide 7.10 (52)
West Adelaide 3.5 (23) defeated Glenelg 1.3 (9)
Central District 4.6 (30) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 2.5 (17)
South Adelaide 3.5 (23) defeated Sturt 1.9 (15)