SANFL 2021 -- Round 1 Wrap-Up

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Norm Smith Medallist
May 8, 2001
X Convenience Oval, Elizabeth
AFL Club
Other Teams
CDFC (SANFL), Port Melb (VFL)
Hi Footy fans...

This past weekend you could definitely tell that the people missed their footy. For those that probably decided to sit out 2020 in the wake of the pandemic, it was like a homecoming. For the opening round of the 2021 SANFL Premiership Season, SA footy-heads took advantage of the relaxed restrictions and long weekend to get back on the terraces. Beginning on Thursday evening at Norwood to the twilight Friday at the Bay, the numbers went at the very least to around 16000 people fronting up to kick off the year. Best thing was that we began with a bang not just on the terraces, but on the field as well. With the closeness of some games, hopefully we have a year to remember and perhaps with some renewed vigor from last year's lower end sides. But of course once again, the "invisible hand" of influence from across the border is at it again. The AFL is once again pushing its agenda on state league football, no more evident than what has happened to the current VFL. At this point, the SANFL is standing firm and defiant on this "23rd man" issue, much to the chagrin of the two SA-based national league clubs and no doubt to the Victorian establishment. But enough about that... football is back.

Welcome to the Round 1 edition of the SANFL Wrap-Up.

To kickstart the 2021 season, we needed to do it right and it started off under the lights of Coopers Stadium in Norwood on Thursday night. It was Game 1 of the Williams-Gallagher Cup series between the true rivals of SA football between the Redlegs and the Magpies. These sides didn't clash last season with Port sitting out 2020, so you have to go back to Round 10 in 2019 for their last clash against the 'Legs which resulted in a 45-point hiding at Alberton. But at The Parade, the Magpies were downed by 34 points on this same night in Round 4. Port's last game in the SANFL was a Grand Final, which ended in defeat. On paper, the Redlegs looked like they had a task ahead of them with the 'Pies fielding 15 AFL-listed players. But with a crew of returning players and a new coach, the Redlegs made an early statement. Port kicked the first goal, but by quarter-time they were on the wrong end of a four-goal deficit. Norwood scored 5.3 to 1.2 to lead by 25 points at the first change. The 'Legs skewed a few chances on goal in the second term, but the Magpies weren't making up the lost ground as the home side's lead stretched out to 34 points by the half-time break after adding a further 3.5 to 1.2. The Redlegs were making the Magpies look almost rank amateurs with their stats. By game's end, they would have over 60 more disposals, 25 more marks and 26 more tackles. Not a flattering statistic if you're looking to break into the AFL side. Norwood kept up their tempo when play resumed, taking their advantage out to 46 points by the final change after scoring 3.3 to 1.3 in the third term. With the kind of firepower the Redlegs exhibited, you'd probably have them as one of the main contenders for 2021. The 'Legs would finish up with a 45-point victory to open their 2021 account, both sides kicking three goals each in the final term with Port's three behinds to two chipping a single point off the three quarter-time gap. New captain Matthew Nunn was named best for the Redlegs, racking up 39 disposals and making 11 tackles. The Magpies named Jarrod Lienert as their standout, who tallied 26 disposals.

Good Friday football greeted the rest of us back to our hallowed grounds, match number two for the round takes us to the Flinders Uni Stadium in Noarlunga where the Panthers played host to the Crows. Like the Magpies, the Crows also sat out last season after the AFL's ruling on players participating in state leagues. Their last game was the 2019 Preliminary Final against the Tigers, which they lost by 27 points. Against the Panthers, they didn't win either of their two encounters that year, with a draw in Round 4 and a seven-point loss in Round 18. The prized signing of Bryce Gibbs to the Panthers added extra spice to this game, himself saying he had waited for the 2021 fixture's release so that he could mark the date when he faced his former club. Again, like the Magpies at The Parade the night previous, the young Crows were in for a lesson. Despite early inaccuracy, the Panthers did their hardest work early to break away to a five-goal lead come quarter-time after scoring 5.6 to the Crows' single major. Adelaide fought back some in the second quarter, but only cut the gap back by five points by the long break. They scored 4.2 to South's 3.3, the Panthers still ahead by 25 points at half-time. When play resumed, South's class did as well. That second term lapse soon meant nothing as they kept the Crows to just a single behind whilst adding 3.3 to their score. At three quarter-time, the blue and whites were out to 45-point lead. The final result could have been much worse for Adelaide had the Panthers accuracy on goal been more pin-point in the final term, but a 10-goal loss was still going to be a horrid return to SANFL ranks. South added a further 3.6 to the Crows' 1.1, romping to a 61-point victory in front of over 2,100 spectators. Gibbs ran rings around his old mob to get best afield honours for South with his 36 disposals and five clearances. Adelaide named Hamish Latchford as their best on ground with 31 disposals and 12 marks.

Other than last season, Good Friday footy also means its Northern Derby time so its off to the X-Convenience Oval in Elizabeth where the Bulldogs took on the Roosters. Last year, the Roosters took all the points on offer from their two games in the COVID-hit 2020 season. In their last game in Round 12, the Roosters relaxed it a little too much at Prospect, winning by 32 points in the end but should have probably have won by a lot more. At Elizabeth, the Roosters were behind the eight-ball early on before kicking nine goals to three in the second half for their five-goal win in Round 5. Some soul searching was done by the Bulldogs in the aftermath of 2020 and Bulldogs favourite son Paul Thomas would end up being appointed to his first senior coaching gig. North would end up with more outs than ins, on the plus side they did get former Power player Aaron Young. Despite the warm conditions, the opening term was a spectacle with the Doggies finishing the quarter with a pair of majors to put themselves ahead going into the first change. They scored 6.1 to the Roosters' four goals without a miss to lead by 13 points at quarter-time. Some missed opportunities on goal in the second term stopped the Roosters from usurping the lead by the break, the Dogs still up by 11 points at half-time after scoring 5.1 to 5.3. Thomas put a quartet of young blood into the league side this day and mixing with the experienced brigade paid dividends. Although the Dogs found the big sticks hard to find in the third quarter, they still won the territory war and most of the term was spent in their attacking half. The home side took their advantage to 15 points by the final change, scoring 2.5 to North's 2.1. The visitors pushed a bit harder in the final term, but Centrals soaked it up. North kicked 3.2, but the Dogs' 2.2 was enough for them to secure a nine-point win and begin their season in fine fashion. Justin Hoskin was named best afield with his four goals and 20 disposals, the Roosters would vote in Jarrad Allmond as their best with 31 disposals and six marks.

The fourth match for the weekend finds us heading up Port Road as far as Woodville, where the Eagles faced the Double Blues at the Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. The Eagles took all the points on offer last season, more than doubling the Blues' scores on both occasions. The first meeting was at the Adelaide Oval in Round 2 which they won by 37 points, then by 51 points at Woodville in Round 9. Of course the Eagles would go on to win the title while the Blues finished sixth. Both sides had considerable departures and arrivals, but it was the Eagles with their acquisition of the Menzel brothers who defected from Centrals, that raised eyebrows. A crowd just shy of 3000 turned out for this, which is one of the Eagles best crowds in recent memory outside of clashes with the Crows, although it probably had something to do with the raising of a flag as well. The Eagles ruled the opening term, but early on were unable to make any major impact on the board. They scored just 2.3 to the Blues' 1.2 to lead by seven points at the first change. Sturt managed to take advantage of the Eagles' wayward shooting in late in the second term, a trio of goals among their 4.3 to the Eagles' 2.5 put them ahead by two points at the long break. Perhaps it was the heat that was disrupting the Eagles' radar, they were still finding it difficult to put the ball through the big sticks when play resumed. For 14 minutes the Eagles controlled the play, but five behinds in succession kept the Blues well and truly in touch. That would still be the case by three quarter-time, after having kicked 2.7 to Sturt's single major it was still a mere 10-point ball-game. But then the Eagles would find their goal-kicking boots in the final term, where they blitzed the shell-shocked Blues outfit that managed just 1.1 while the home side slammed through 7.1, running off the a 46-point victory. Troy Menzel was named best for the Eagles with 15 disposals, four goals and five marks. James Battersby was named Sturt's best, with 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles.

In the final match for the round, its time for some twilight football at the ACH Group Stadium in Glenelg between the Tigers and the Bloods. Last season, these sides traded blows and victories in their two games. It began in Round 4 with the Bloods winning by 16 points at Richmond and finished with the Tigers inflicting a 74-point hammering at Glenelg in Round 11. The Tigers flag defence finished at the 1st Semi in the first week of the 2020 Finals Series, while the Bloods ended up with the wooden spoon in the shortened season. The Bloods put together a long shopping list in the off season, which most notably saw the return of Jono Beech to Milner Street and were starting seven league debutants for this match. The Tigers also welcomed back some formers themselves, with Lachlan Hosie and Toby Pink coming back from the east. This afternoon was also the launch of the Tigers' centenary celebrations, the players running onto the field in a replica of their original 1921 guernsey. The Tigers' started off on the right note in that regard, running off to a 32-point lead by quarter-time with their score of 6.3 to 1.1. However in the second term, they slowed down to a crawl and would only managed a pair of behinds. The Bloods didn't fully capitalise on the Bays' sudden scoring funk, they spurned a swag of opportunities to cut the gap back to three straight kicks by the long break. Westies scored 2.7, the home side still ahead by 15 points at half-time. The Tigers got back on track when play resumed, scoring 6.2 to the Bloods' four goals without a miss to go into the final change with a 29-point advantage. The inexperienced Bloods almost pulled off an unbelievable heist late in the final term as the home side suddenly got a case of the inaccuracy bug, but Glenelg's defence kept them at arm's length to escape their grasp. West kicked 4.4, falling short by nine points against the Tigers' 1.4. Darcy Bailey was voted Glenelg's best with 28 disposals, two goals and six tackles, while the Bloods named current B&F winner Isaac Johnson as their best with his three goals and 23 disposals.

Thursday April 1
Norwood 14.13 (97)
Port Adelaide 7.10 (52)
4,946 @ Coopers Stadium, Norwood

Friday April 2
South Adelaide 14.18 (102)
Adelaide 6.5 (41)
2,170 @ Flinders University Stadium, Noarlunga

Central District 15.9 (99)
North Adelaide 14.6 (90)
X-Convenience Oval, Elizabeth -- crowd number unknown

Woodville-West Torrens 13.16 (94)
Sturt 7.6 (48)
2,959 @ Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, Woodville

Glenelg 13.11 (89)
West Adelaide 11.12 (78)
3,606 @ ACH Group Stadium, Glenelg

Port -- Rockliff (head knock)
North -- Craig (hamstring)
Glenelg -- Stretch (ankle)
West -- Ellem (leg)

None known at time of post.

South -- 2pts (1-0-0), 71.3%
W-WT -- 2pts (1-0-0), 66.2%
Norwood -- 2pts (1-0-0), 65.1%
Glenelg -- 2pts (1-0-0), 53.3%
Central -- 2pts (1-0-0), 52.4%

North -- 0pts (0-1-0), 47.6%
West -- 0pts (0-1-0), 46.7%
Port -- 0pts (0-1-0), 34.9%
Sturt -- 0pts (0-1-0), 33.8%
Adelaide -- 0pts (0-1-0), 28.7%

Next weekend in Round 2...

Saturday April 10
Port Adelaide vs. Central District; Alberton Oval @ 2:10pm
North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide; Prospect Oval @ 2:10pm
Sturt vs. Norwood; Unley Oval @ 3:05pm
Glenelg vs. Woodville-West Torrens; ACH Group Stadium, Glenelg @ 4:10pm
West Adelaide vs. Adelaide; Hisense Stadium, Richmond @ 4:10pm

So until next weekend... see you at the Footy!

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