Panthers avoid drawing Blood with nail-biting win

SOUTH Adelaide managed to kill the clock in the final few minutes of its nerve-wracking win over West Adelaide in order to secure a one-point win and move within just one point of top spot. The victory meant the Panthers were able to go into outright second spot on the SANFL Women’s ladder following a loss to Central District, getting up 4.5 (29) to 4.4 (28) over the Bloods.

It was a strange old game that saw both sides going at it and having turns with the momentum, and making it incredibly hard to predict a winner at any point. The first quarter was even, the second was largely South – after the first few minutes – then West looked the better in the third, before South finished strong to kick the only goal of the fourth quarter. The Bloods came hard in the finish, but the Panthers played it safe and disciplined to take home the win.

In a battle between two finals contenders, West Adelaide needed the win to leap back inside the top four having slipped to fifth after Norwood regained the vital fourth spot. For South Adelaide, with Glenelg drawing the week before, it had wedged a part of the gap between the Panthers and top spot, and a win would see them keep in touch with the Bays, while also keeping the Bulldogs at bay.

The match itself was fairly scrappy to start with, as both sides forced the other to commit turnovers. Despite South having more play in its forward half, it was actually West Adelaide – through a rare forward 50 venture in the opening half of the first term – who got the first major on the board via Olivia Smith. The forward craft and bodywork from Nicole Hooper to cleanly handball off while shepherding Esther Schirmer was perfect, allowing her teammate to run into an open goal.

That major was countered a few minutes later when Melissa Anderson produced a brilliant pass to South Adelaide’s leading goalkicker Emily Brockhurst who clunked a tricky mark going back with the flight. The reliable set shot never looked like missing and scores were level at the 10-minute mark of the term. Only an Anderson behind separated the sides at the first break, as both teams were just about even across the board at quarter time.

The second term was the busiest of the lot, with West Adelaide jumping the Panthers early and through some fast overlap ball movement off turnover, kicked two goals in the first four minutes. The first was Hooper getting reward for effort with a goalside run proving fruitful, before Molly Peterson threaded the eye of the needle from the tightest of angles – albeit only about 10 metres out – off a nice passage of play featuring Iilish Ross and Emma Chapman.

West’s dominance would not last long though, with South dominating the last 10 minutes. Brockhurst missed a set shot, but then spotted up a loose Doreena Hansen who made no mistake close to goal. That was followed by another couple of misses from the home side, before double bottom-ager Layla Vizgaudis – who had been busy in the forward half of the ground – delivered a great pass into fellow State Academy member Shae Archbold off the intercept.

The left-footed Archbold made no mistake, and for all of West’s great work in the opening few minutes of the term, teh Panthers had worked their way back into the lead by four points at half-time. The Panthers midfield of Jordann Hickey and Nikki Nield was busy, while the defence of Tiffany King, Schirmer, Jaslynne Smith and debutant Carly Milsom was holding up brilliantly. For West Adelaide, Chloe Tonkin was busy through the ruck, while Smith and Asha Dufour were busy.

Tiffany King was one of a number of South Adelaide defenders who stepped up in the win | Image credit: Nick Hook Photography

Hickey won the opening clearance of the third term, but instead it was West Adelaide on the counterattack that scored first with Chapman just missing. A rare error of indecision by the South defence in a contest midway through the term saw Hooper pounce and lot home her side’s fourth of the contest and give her side back the lead. However for all the limited scoring in the premiership quarter, it was a final spoil as the siren sounded that would ultimately prove to be the difference.

West Adelaide was charging hard in the dying seconds of the third term and had another flying shot on goal. Three points up after South had added one behind to its score, Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap refused to concede even a behind, with the kick hurtling towards goal but the South talent punching it to the boundary line as the siren sounded. Though a quarter to play, as it would happen, not conceding that score allowed South Adelaide to take home the full points.

With West Adelaide up by three points heading into the last quarter, it set up a grandstand finish, and when Emma Kilpatrick – who had been quiet by her standards – clunked a great mark inside 50, it looked as if West Adelaide would have some breathing space. Instead the set shot kept drifting and hit the post, giving the Panthers a reprieve.

A few minutes later it was the class of Vizgaudis at it again, winning it and setting the wheels in motion that led to Archbold’s second goal which was ultimately the match-winner. The top-ager took it cleanly off the bounce inside 50, spun onto her left from 35 metres out and made no mistake with a brilliant finish. South Adelaide was back in front midway through the term.

West Adelaide had the better of the final few minutes and kept attacking, manage to add one more behind at the 13-minute mark, but could not regularly penetrate the strong South defence. The Panthers were taking no risks and looked to play it safe holding a narrow one-point lead. Despite the visiting team having its chances when the ball was loose, South dropped a couple of players behind the ball in the last couple of minutes and then retained possession cleverly until the siren sounded for the tightest of wins.

Nield was huge for the Panthers through midfield, racking up a match-high 28 disposals, as well as five marks, five clearances, 12 tackles and two inside 50s in the win. Her partner-in-crime Hickey had 20 disposals, eight marks, nine tackles, three clearances and five inside 50s, while Vizgaudis (20 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and five inside 50s) played her best SANFLW game to-date.

In defence, Schirmer (22 disposals, six marks and three tackles), Smith (21 disposals, 11 marks and three rebound 50s), King (18 disposals, seven marks and three rebound 50s) and Milsom (16 disposals, nine marks – two contested – and three rebound 50s) all stood tall, while Morgan Johnston and Anderson was busy throughout the match. Unfortunately for South Adelaide, a knee injury to Nicole Campbell in the early stages of the match – who had returned to play eight matches this season coming off an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury – soured the win.

For West Adelaide, it was an even contribution without obvious individual standouts, though Tonkin did well competing in the ruck with 18 disposals, five marks, 22 hitouts, four clearances and four inside 50s, as the underrated names of Smith (15 disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s and a goal) and Ella Maxwell (16 disposals, two marks, three tackles and four clearances) stood up in the light of some others having quieter outputs.

Midfielder Asha Dufour finished with a team-high 20 disposals and never stopped trying en route to five marks – one contested – five tackles, three clearances and two inside 50s. Hooper up forward kicking two goals was crucial and Emily Mableson had her moments in defence.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.1 | 3.4 | 3.5 | 4.5 (29)
WEST ADELAIDE 1.0 | 3.0 | 4.2 | 4.4 (28)

South Adelaide:
S. Archbold 2, E. Brockhurst, D. Hansen
West Adelaide: N. Hooper 2, M. Peterson O. Smith

South Adelaide:
N. Nield, J Smith, L. Vizgaudis, E. Schirmer, J. Hickey
West Adelaide: C. Tonkin. N. Hooper, E. Maxwell, A. Dufour, E. Mableson

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments