League Match Report - Round 17 - South Adelaide vs Sturt
League Match Report
South Adelaide vs Sturt
Round 17 - Hickinbotham Oval - 12/08/18
Goals: Kreuger 2, Liddle, Whittlesea, Fitt, Aurrichio, Cross, Fields
Best: Whittlesea, Liddle, Summerton, Cross, Haines
Injuries: Kappler (ankle)
South Adelaide were unable to reel in an impressive Sturt outfit, falling to a 13-point loss at Hickinbotham Oval on Sunday.
Sturt brought the pressure after quarter time and once they pulled away in the second half the Panthers just could not claw back far enough, falling to a 8.11 (59) to 11.6 (72) defeat.
The loss sets up a nervy finish to the season for Jarrad Wright's outfit.
Sturt now jumps North Adelaide into third on the ladder, while the Panthers remain in fifth place.
South hold a two game plus significant percentage advantage over sixth and seventh placed Glenelg and West Adelaide, but must close the season against top two sides Eagles (away) and Norwood (home). A win against either would clinch a Finals berth for the boys from Noarlunga.
Despite being their nemesis on Sunday, Sturt could also play a deciding role in securing South's position in the finals, with a win over West and Glenelg in their final two games enough to eliminate them from finals contention.
The Panthers started well against the Double Blues, with Nathan Kreuger converting an incredibly courageous mark into the first goal of the game after five minutes.
South were dominating play and possession, but could not convert their control of the football into any serious scoreboard pressure.
Liam Fitt added a second midway through the term, but once Jake Sutcliffe pinched one back for the visitors after the quarter time siren South's lead was only five.
Disappointingly, young rebounding defender Jaidan Kappler was ruled out for the rest of the game after suffering an ankle injury early in the piece after an awkward fall.
The game opened up after the first break, as hard ball winners Joel Cross (25 touches,10 clearances and a goal) and Aidan Riley (24 disposals and nine clearances) worked their way into the game for their teams.
The teams traded blows and entered the major break locked at 34 a piece.
Nick Liddle, who was his influential self with a game-high 29 touches, seven clearances and a goal, regained the lead for South after a tense start to the third.
However, consecutive Sturt goals would quickly reclaim a lead the visitors would not again relinquish.
To their credit, South continued to fight in the final term.
Woodville-West Torrens recruit Tom Whittlesea played his best game of the season, clunking a game-high 11 marks (three contested) and cutting the gap back to 10 with an early goal in the fourth.
Fellow former Eagle Jake Summerton also played an important role on dangerous Sturt forward Mark Evans, holding the Ken Farmer Medal leader to just 11 touches and one goal.
South kicked four consecutive behinds before Alex Aurrichio made things interesting with his first goal of the game entering stoppage time.
However, Sturt continued to find a way to answer back, as big Jack Osborn stretched high for a one-on-one mark, which he converted into a two goal buffer at the death to secure his side's 13-point win.
The Panthers will be disappointed with the result, having controlled possession for much of the game.
Sturt punished their hosts on some critical skill errors, which were especially devastating given the tough, but low scoring style in which the game was played.
South must now regroup before making the trek to Woodville this Saturday, August 18 for a crack at the Eagles and securing their place at Adelaide Oval come September.
Pleasingly, Wright has several more options to weigh up at selection.
Matt Rose and Summerton made successful returns from injury in the League side, while Anthony Biemans and Sam Overall got through their comeback games in the Reserves unscathed.