Bloods best Redlegs in frantic final term

PRESSURE, repeat stoppages and turnovers were the story of the first three quarters between Norwood and West Adelaide on Saturday night, before the previously dour struggle opened up and saw four goals kicked in the last term, including three in the final 10 minutes for the latter to secure a nine-point victory.

No doubt there would have been a few bruised bodies coming out of the match as the sides – who were fourth and fifth on the SANFL Women’s ladder heading into the clash – battled away throughout the first quarter without any reward for effort.

Only a Steph Simmonds flying shot broke an otherwise scoring deadlock despite the ball essentially camped inside Norwood’s forward 50 for the majority of the term. Credit has to go to West Adelaide’s backline, which in the absence of skipper Madison Russell who was unavailable for the clash, stood up and stifled any Norwood attack.

The likes of Georgie Pater and Lucy Boyd were rock solid in the back 50 with the pair being an intercepting force. With the midfield duo of Hannah Button and Zoe Venning also on-song, it was difficult for the Redlegs, who, through the work of Simmons and Georgina Birchall were finding the ball in the forward half, but were unable to apply any scoreboard pressure.

The second term had a different look to it early with the Bloods kicking consecutive behinds in the opening couple of minutes to hit the front. The tackling pressure was still huge, but the Redlegs were the first to break the goalless deadlock, getting it through to Amelia Rusden inside 50 who slotted a major on the run at the five-minute mark. Norwood had another chance through Adrienne Davies whose set shot fell short from 20m and was marked on the line to save a certain goal.

Then West Adelaide had its turn, kicking two goals to end the half, with a turnover form Tahlita Buethke landing in the lap of Bec Hansen who made no mistake. Then just before half-time, the Bloods took full opportunity of a napping Redlegs defence after Chloe Tonkin marked, expecting the bottom-ager to have a shot.

Instead her kick drifted into the path of Tess Huxtable in the pocket, who like Tonkin, instead passed it off to Boyd who had charged inside 50 to mark uncontested 30m out from goal. Boyd kicked the major after the half-time siren for West Adelaide to take a seven-point lead into the main break.

The third term was a repeat of the first with just one behind kicked in the entire quarter, though teams had their chances, with Nicole Hooper kicking the term’s only score from a set shot that drifted right. The scoring was low, but the defence and pressure was at a maximum with fourth spot on the line for the winner.

Incredibly, the fourth term started in a contrast to the other three, with Norwood winning the first centre clearance, went inside 50 and Rusden kicked her second major to cut the deficit to within two points. At the eight-minute mark, Venning went down hurt and had to be helped off, and moments later, Buethke placed a pinpoint pass to a leading Mykaela Walker who went back and delivered.

The Redlegs were up by four points and had all the momentum. Except no one told Button who snuck forward and won a free kick at the top of the goalsquare. Using all of her AFLW experience, Button went back and delivered when it counted to put her side back in front, 21-19.

There was still more twists to come with Davies playing in front and marking in the goalsquare. The experienced Norwood forward went back but got too close to the player on the mark and was touched on the way through, keeping West Adelaide by one points.

It would come back to hurt the home side as Venning – who returned to the field with her quad strapped – took a strong intercept mark at half-back and the Bloods attacked hard. Boyd reenacted Matthew Scarlett‘s toepoke in the 2009 AFL Grand Final to get it forward to Kilpatrick, and a moment later snapped through congestion to hit up Kendell Saffin.

The forward went back and nailed the goal to ice the game, even having a chance a moment later from the opposite side and a little further out but it missed. With West Adelaide essentially locking it in the forward half for the last couple of minutes, the Bloods held on to enjoy a nine-point victory.

NORWOOD 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.2 (20)
WEST ADELAIDE 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.3 | 4.5 (29)

A. Rusden 2, M. Walker
West Adelaide: L. Boyd, H. Button, B. Hansen, K. Saffin

C. Belbin, S. Simmonds, J. Halfpenny, T. Buethke, A. Rusden
West Adelaide: H. Button, Z. Venning, L. Boyd, R. Ballard, A. Dufour

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