The West End State Team has retained the Haydn Bunton Junior Cup with a gritty four-point win against the WAFL at Optus Stadium in Perth.
Stringing together their third win in succession against the Sandgropers, the Croweaters have now earned a 49-48 edge in all meetings against Western Australia dating back to 1904.
With Sturt’s Casey Voss outstanding off half-back in earning the Fos Williams Medal, Jade Sheedy’s young side backed up last year’s outstanding 53-point win at Adelaide Oval in a very different fashion on foreign soil.
Leading at every change, the visitors were forced to withstand a second-half onslaught from the hosts, who began to convert their field play onto the scoreboard after an inaccurate first half.
West End State captain Liam McBean put his team in front by six points when he earned a kick for holding the ball early in the last term, only to have this lead cancelled out by a goal to WA’s Ben Sokol.
But SA then piled on the pressure with the next four behinds in succession before Daniel Menzel used his body nicely to convert his chest mark with a snap set shot in the 15th minute of the fourth quarter.
WA’s Bailey Rogers pegged one back three minutes later as the Croweaters suddenly found themselves under siege.
South Australian Stefan Giro could have put the WAFL in front but his left foot snap hit the post in the 23rd minute, leaving SA with two minutes to retain pressure and cling on for a memorable victory.
Voss finished with 29 disposals, 15 marks and four rebound 50s in a stunning display off half-back as SA midfielders Riley Knight (37 disposals), Harrison Wigg (32), Matt Allen (24) and Campbell Combe (21) all worked tirelessly.
SA’s defence was well led by Glenelg captain Max Proud who was a late inclusion for an ill Sam Durdin, making a hurried direct flight from Tasmania to be rushed into the side.
Sturt’s Will Coomblas and West’s Kaiden Brand were also strong in aerial contests down back to hold up WA while Eagles pair Daniel Menzel and Zane Williams kicked two goals each.
SA BEST PLAYERS – Casey Voss, Riley Knight, Harrison Wigg, Matt Allen, Campbell Combe, Mitch O’Neill, Keenan Ramsey