SAFCW Match Report: Grand Final - South Adelaide vs Norwood
SAFCW Match Report
South Adelaide vs Norwood
Grand Final - Peter Motley Oval - 25/04/18
Goals: Hatchard, Harvey, Gum, Williams
Best: Hammond, Gore, Hatchard, Gum, Harvey, Whiteley, Northcott
South Adelaide capped off a remarkable inaugural season in the SANFL Statewide Super Women's League with a hard-fought premiership triumph over Norwood at Peter Motley Oval on ANZAC Day.
The Panthers finished as minor premiers, with just one loss through 10 games, but were made to fight tooth and nail for a thrilling 4.6 (30) to 4.1 (25) Grand Final victory over an inspired Redlegs outfit.
It seemed South were working their way towards a more comfortable win, controlling much of the play early and pushing their way to a 17-point lead once Cat Williams soccered one home in the closing stages of the first half.
However, speedy Redlegs forward Alana Browne reacted quickest to a Panthers infringement in her forward half and sprinted into goal to pull one back with just six seconds to play in the half.
It would prove an inspirational turning point for Norwood.
The Redlegs struck first in the second half, as Rhianna Peate converted a set shot from 15m out and bring her side within a kick just two minutes after the restart.
Both sides battled a fierce stalemate throughout the quarter, with pacy defender Cheyenne Hammond and dynamic utility Anne Hatchard finding plenty of the football for the Panthers, but the Legs backline staunchly repelling each forward entry.
Eventually Norwood would strike first when Sally Riley earned a free for holding the ball and kicked truly to bring scores level.
However, Panthers co-captain Kristi Harvey soon regained the advantage for her side after taking a strong contested mark in the goal square and sent the footy over the goal umpire's hat and deep into the suburbs of Unley.
It set up an electrifying final stanza in which neither side could truly shake the other and break the game open.
Needing a period of extra time became a real possibility once Norwood skipper Rebekah McMahon found herself loose over the back and tied the scores with a steely finish on the run from 30m.
But once again South were able to quickly counter punch.
Star forward Courtney Gum found herself on the end of a pin point pass from Harvey just 70 seconds later and made no mistake from 45m out with what would prove to be the match winning score.
Norwood rushed a behind in the 15th minute to keep South supporters hearts pumping in the dying stages, but the Panthers defence held strong against the desperate Legs.
"What an absolute honour and pleasure it is to be the coach of such an amazing club," South coach Krissie Steen said following the game.
"What a bunch of girls, they were outstanding. Norwood absolutely gave it to us, my voice is hoarse from yelling on the boundary."
The win caps off an incredibe 18 months for Steen, this being the Panthers mentor's second premiership in less than two years, after leading Adelaide University to the SAWFL Div 1 title in 2017, and 22nd win from the last 23 games.
Co-captain Harvey spoke of how proud she was of her team's development in their first SANFLW campaign.
"We started in in October and there were girls who had never kicked a footy before," she said.
"We worked so hard and I have never been so proud to be involved in such a great club.
"To everyone at South, thanks for taking us in and backing us, I don't think we would find that level of support at another club. I'm so proud of everyone."
The dashing Hammond (22 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s) was awarded the medal for best on ground for her eye-catching display of run and carry out of the backlines.
Meanwhile, Hatchard and Nikki Gore amassed 42 possessions (29 contested) between them.
Forwards Harvey and Gum and strong defenders Lisa Whiteley and Lucy Northcott were also important bookends for South in a game that truly took a team effort to get over the line.
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