By ZAC MILBANK
Woodville-West Torrens took a major step toward securing the Statewide Super League minor premiership after outlasting North Adelaide by 25 points at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval.
Coming off their worst loss of the season to Norwood in Round 10, the Eagles powered past the Roosters in the second term as arguably the most damaging player in the competition – Jack Hayes – ran riot upon his return from a shoulder injury.
The 24-year-old was a significant difference-maker in booting a match-high three goals while also tallying 23 disposals, 11 marks and three tackles while moving freely around the ground.
”It was a good win by the boys to get top spot – hopefully we can take this form into next week and the finals and continue on with it,” Hayes told Channel 7 after the match.
”It was nice to get a couple of marks and a couple of goals today.”
Magpies premiership rover Tim Ginever said Hayes – who confirmed his iced foot after the game wasn’t a serious concern – was one of the strongest-marking players in the Statewide Super League.
”His contested marks today were outstanding,” Ginever said on Channel 7.
”The way he kept his eyes on the ball at all times, regardless of what was coming towards him, was a real feature.”
The Eagles moved the ball well by hand to have 47 more handballs than the Roosters en route to engineering 57 inside 50s to 39.
Overcoming a goalless first term after missing four set shots on goal, the hosts booted four goals without reply in the second stanza to establish a 10-point half-time lead.
Former Eagle Jarred Allmond had a shot from 55m which fell short into the arms of Robbie Young, who converted from a 10m snap set shot.
But when Joseph Sinor’s floating snap shot from the pocket was judged beautifully by Jack Hayes with a chest mark, the Eagles’ advantage was back out to 12 points nearing the final change.
It was Nick Hayes’ turn to impact the match early in the fourth term when his low pass was marked by Jake Von Bertouch, the tall Eagles’ forward giving his side an 18-point lead two minutes in.
Unpredictable North forward Lewis Hender was then the beneficiary of a Kym LeBois intercept and short pass, converting his set shot from 40m in front.
But the Roosters attempt at generating any momentum was short-lived when Jack Hayes again had his say by using his body well to take a strong overhead mark just 15m from goal on a slight angle.
With the Eagles’ edge back out to 18 points, impressive defender Jacob Wehr relished his rare run forward of centre to take two bounces and goal on the run from 55m to put his side up by four goals three minutes into time-on.
It proved to be enough as Jade Sheedy’s men took their place at the top of the table, jumping two premiership points clear of the Roosters in second spot.
Hayes had plenty of assistance in the midfield from Eagles teammates Sinor and James Tsitas who both had 26 disposals, the latter also adding a fine checkside set shot to his resume in the second quarter.
Jimmy Toumpas racked up 25 disposals and a long-range major which bounced through the goal square while Matt Goldsworthy used the ball well with his 22 disposals and a 55m goal to the southern end.
Poised Rhyan Mansell mopped up plenty of the Roosters’ attacks across half-back to tally 22 disposals and seven marks while fellow Eagles defenders Luke Thompson and Lachlan Jones were equally effective from the back half.
North’s endeavour couldn’t be questioned, applying 40 more tackles than the Eagles while receiving great service from left-footers Harrison Wigg, Campbell Combe and Allmond, with Combe collecting nine clearances to go with his 11 tackles and 24 disposals.
Zippy Frank Szekely provided plenty of run and spark whenever he had the footy in his hand, finishing with 20 disposals, eight marks and a goal for the Roosters while Tanner Smith and Cameron Craig battled hard in defence to ensure the Eagles would have to earn anything in the air.
Vice-captain Andrew Moore was slowed down by tightness in his leg during the third term as he registered one disposal after the main change having tallied 16 in a strong first-half display.
Former Glenelg defender Elliot Chalmers did a solid job for North by putting the clamps on Eagles star Jordan Foote, restricting last year’s Club Champion to just five kicks.