Eagles make history, stun red-hot Redlegs

WOODVILLE-West Torrens have played the efficient role of party pooper to Norwood, stunning the Redlegs at The Parade and keeping the finals race alive for a couple of teams. The Eagles had to come from as much as eight points down midway in the fourth term to kick the last two goals of the game and secure an incredible 4.6 (30) to 4.1 (25) victory.

Norwood’s record over the past month included a draw with then ladder-leaders Glenelg, and victories over top three sides South Adelaide and Central District, seeing the Redlegs leap into fourth spot on the ladder. By comparison, the seventh placed Eagles who were on a five-game losing streak and unable to make finals, looked a much simpler task.

Except no one informed the underdogs.

From the start it was clear the Eagles were up for the fight, and as one of the best tackling teams in the competition, they were always going to put the Redlegs under pressure. They negated their space and limited ball movement to make it a highly contested affair, while looking to run whenever the ball did get free.

Norwood had the majority of the play in the first term with returning co-captain Steph Simmonds sporting a bright orange headband, as she, Adrienne Davies and Sarah Branford all had a piece of it early. It was Simmonds who put the first major through from a set shot, an effort that was countered as the siren sounded off the boot of Klaudia O’Neill.

Not long before, Grace Martin put in her Behind of the Year effort with an incredible run from the middle to half-forward, one-two and then flying shot that just collected the inside of the goal post on the way through. She had a huge influence in the first half, winning the opening clearance and then inside 50 leading to a Rosette Zerella goal.

The former Redleg had put the Eagles in front, but it would only be until Kiana Lee – funnily enough a former Eagle – put the Redlegs on level pegging at half-time. Just before the break, Martin copped a big tackle from fellow State Academy member Coby Morgan and came off sore, but would return to the field later in the match.

Woodville-West Torrens seemed to be getting on top in the centre clearances, with a number of early chances going begging in through O’Neill (twice) and Marlie Fiegert, two of which were fairly straightforward set shots. The big issue was the way Norwood could move the ball once they got it over the top of the half-back line, and gave themselves plenty of chances.

An end-to-end play led to a Mykaela Walker mark at the top of the goalsquare and subsequent major while a Lee set shot falling short in the final few minutes much to the relief of the visiting fans. That meant the margin was two points rather than seven at the final break, but after an armwrestle early in the fourth, that would change.

Tahlita Buethke pumped a ball high to the top of the goalsquare and somehow Davies read it to a t and took a great grab, going back and slotting it from 15m out straight in front to make the margin eight points. Given the Eagles were yet to come back from a three quarter time deficit and win, it was looking more and more likely that the finalists were now set.

Except the Eagles were in the business of making history. A behind to Brianna Walling at the 10-minute mark kept the ball locked up the Eagles end, and eventually a free kick to Zerella 30m out straight in front meant the deficit was just one point as the quarter ticked past its halfway mark.

Woodville-West Torrens continued its impressive centre work to pump it straight back inside 50, with O’Neill clunking a terrific grab to match that of Davies up the other end, and from a similar distance also put one through the big sticks. From the verge of defeat, the Eagles had answered unequivocally and hit the front by five points.

The last six minutes were frenzied with Norwood having its fair share of chances. Speedster Tesharna Maher almost became the hero bursting inside 50 with multiple bounces before one went astray and opponent Cher Waters corralled her. A couple of tackles late and the Eagles maintained possession going into the middle. A late charge from Emily Bartsch through the middle saw the talented defender crunched by Lucy Moore and had to be helped off, with the siren sounding in the process, signalling an incredible Eagles victory.

While Woodville-West Torrens cannot make finals, the Eagles did achieve their best ever season record with a fourth win, having gone three and three and a draw in the past two, to ensure 2024 was a step in the right direction. But both West Adelaide and Sturt will be thankful for the result, with the finals door left ajar by Norwood’s loss, sitting three points clear of those sides.

The Redlegs only need one win to secure finals, but if Sturt and West Adelaide win next week – playing ironically Norwood and Eagles – win, then Round 14 would be a live race to fourth, with the top three spots also secured by South Adelaide, Glenelg and Central District.

NORWOOD 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.1 | 4.1 (25)
WWT EAGLES 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.5 | 4.6 (30)

A. Davies, K. Lee, S. Simmonds, M. Walker
WWT Eagles: K. O’Neill 2, R. Zerella 2

S. Simmonds, T. Buethke, K. Halfpenny, K. Lee, A. Davies
WWT Eagles: L. Moore, M. Fiegert, L. Cutting, K. O’Neill, A. Falkenberg

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