Redlegs live to fight another day with Dogs defeat

A NEW SANFL Women’s champion will be crowed in 2024 after Norwood defeated reigning premier Central District in the do-or-die semi-final on Saturday, 6.4 (40) to 5.5 (35). The fourth placed Redlegs were made to work for the win, coming from behind on a couple of occasions, but finishing strongly to hold off a determined Dogs attack.

In a match that left spectators on the edge of their seat, it was fitting that the contest was a finals contest, as neither side yielded for the most part of the match. The defences were put under pressure but largely held up, and a couple of crucial moments where Norwood players stood up and impacted will be remembered well beyond matchday.

The last play of the day was symbolic of the moments throughout the match, with a potentially critical turnover at half-back from the Redlegs saw the Dogs outnumber them at half-forward and Dakota Williams kick towards a two-on-one and most importnatly, in-form forward Katelyn Rosenzweig.

The forward had won the battle against a couple of opponents in Charli Hazelhurst and Nicola Burns, but the latter would have the last laugh. Just as it looked like Williams’ kick had weighted perfectly into Rosenzweig’s arms, Burns lunged getting a fist to it and knocking it clear. No sooner had she done that, and the final siren had sounded. It had truly been a match-winning spoil.

Burns was not the only hero that day with a huge moment, as even towering young ruck Kate Alexander produced a huge tackle at half-forward to buy her side time just a minute earlier, while Kiana Lee – who was arguably best afield – and Candice Belbin both took big grabs in the last few minutes of the term.

Of course the intuitive goal from a couple of metres out from Emma Clark midway through the term to give her side the ultimately successful four-point win was a moment that will be highlighted time and time again, particularly if the Redlegs go on to win the flag. No doubt Central District coach Ben Hunt will be ruing how not one of the defenders in the goalsquare touched the ball that would ultimately send them out of the premiership race.

Of course the match was more than just moments, with Rosenzweig’s third term where she got off the chain and slotted three goals in three and a half-minutes a timely reminder of what the Bulldogs were capable of. Just as Adrienne Davies put her side in front two minutes into the second half, the competition’s equal leading goalkicker had her way with the Norwood defence, kicking three and missing one more late.

Luckily for the Redlegs, a steadier from wing Coby Morgan who won a free kick inside 50 and wasted no time playing on and running into goal, followed by another major to Davies early in the fourth quarter marking in the goalsquare, showed they were always in the contest. In a match with no shortage of highlights, ultimately the Redlegs were in front at the only time that counted – when the final siren sounded.

Norwood had plenty of contributors with Lee playing both in defence and attack, unlucky not to kick a goal or two, with a few chances just falling short or opting to pass off. The former Eagle recorded 18 disposals, eight marks – three contested – two tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s, while wing Tahlita Buethke had a game-high 26 disposals, four marks, three clearances and seven inside 50s.

Jade Halfpenny (15 disposals, four marks – one contested – and three inside 50s), Morgan (15 disposals, five clearances, three inside 50s and a goal) and Sarah Branford (13 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four rebound 50s) all had their moments, as Davies (12 disposals, six marks and two goals) proved the key lynchpin up forward.

For the Bulldogs, Laitiah Huynh racked up 21 disposals, eight marks, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s in arguably her best game for the season, while Rosenzweig’s 13 touches from 16 disposals and 10 marks threatened to be the difference. Madison Lane and Mikaylah Antony provided great run and carry from defence, while Georgia Madigan was rock solid. At the end of the match, skipper Shelby Smith also announced her retirement, with the 32-year-old having capped off a magnificent five seasons at the club.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 1.2 | 2.3 | 5.5 | 5.5 (35)
NORWOOD 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.3 | 6.4 (40)

Central District:
K. Rosenzweig, T. Borgas, D. Williams
Norwood: A. Davies, A. Rusden, E. Clark, C. Morgan, L. Schwerdt

Central District:
K. Rosenzweig, L. Huynh, M. Lane, M. Antony, G. Madigan
Norwood: K. Lee, T. Buethke, J. Halfpenny, A. Davies, C. Morgan

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