A spirited third-term surge ensured the West End State Team would retain the Haydn Bunton Junior Cup with a 53-point win against the WAFL at Adelaide Oval on Saturday evening.
Despite leading at every change, it wasn’t until the Croweaters kicked three goals in three minutes that they looked headed for victory after keeping the Sandgropers in the contest with costly turnovers.
As South’s Matthew Broadbent claimed the Fos Williams Medal as SANFL’s best player with 29 disposals, the eye-catching flurry would end up sparking the hosts into action as they booted eight goals in the fourth term to level the win-loss ledger at 48 apiece.
The visitors reduced the margin to just 13 points when WAFL leading goal kicker Tyler Keitel kicked his third goal seven minutes after the main change.
But majors to South’s Eamon Wilkinson and Glenelg pair Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds in succession suddenly blew SA’s advantage out to 31 points nearing the midway point of the third quarter.
From there the Croweaters were in complete control of the contest across the ground and on the scoreboard, opening up a 40-point buffer at the final change which became a match-high 58 in the fifth minute of the final term.
WA had scored two of its five opening half goals in the final minute of the first two terms, forcing coach Jade Sheedy to call for composure from his men at the half-time break.
This certainly eventuated when the Croweaters slowed the play down by retaining possession, amassing a staggering 150 marks to WA’s 69 while also raking up a total of 70 mote kicks by the final siren.
Despite losing Norwood captain Matthew Nunn to a hamstring complaint in the first term, SA’s midfield got on top through Eagle Riley Knight (29 disposals), Glenelg’s Luke Partington (23) and North’s Campbell Combe (22).
Eagles veteran Matthew Goldsworthy was particularly constructive with his 21 disposals and 10 marks while fellow wise heads Broadbent and Gibbs (31 disposals and 13 marks) were the most two influential players on the ground.
In chalking up their 16th win from past 20 starts, SA had nine goal scorers – led by Reynolds with four while McBean and Tyson Stengle and Jack Hayes kicked three each.
Sheedy hailed his back seven, with Glenelg co-captains Chris Curran and Max Proud particularly prominent as South’s Joe Haines was also balanced in deciding when to defend and attack.