Semi Final Match Preview
South Adelaide vs Adelaide Crows
12.10pm - 11/09/16
Gates open: 11.45am
Aftermatch: 3:30pm - Phil Ridings Bar (Level 2 - Western Stand)
Tickets - click here for more information
Last Time We Met
It was only a fortnight ago and the Panthers enjoyed a historic 38-point victory over Adelaide Crows State League team that saw them end the minor round with a 10-0 record at Hickinbotham Oval - the first time the club has swept their home series since moving to Noarlunga in 1995.
South set up the victory with an impressive second quarter that saw the home side kick 6.2 to 3.1 against a strong breeze and extend their advantage to 38 at halftime.
Star full forward Brett Eddy was one of the catalysts of South Adelaide's surge during the second term, kicking three goals for the quarter, including an incredible bending bomb into the breeze at the Colonnades end.
Eddy would finish the game with five majors, taking his season total to 68 and officially crowning him the 2016 Ken Farmer Medallist - 22 goals clear of next best!
He also handed off three score assists for good measure.
Livewire forward Rigby Barnes also got amongst the goals, kicking three for the afternoon, while Jackson McMahon took several big grabs up forward on his way to a pair of goals.
Dual Magarey Medallist Joel Cross was judged the Panthers best, racking up a game-high 31 possessions (15 contested), six clearances and a goal.
Meanwhile, big-bodied midfielder Brede Seccull (30 touches, seven tackles and two score assists) was again amongst the top performers on the ground, while Nic Schwarz (28 disposals, seven clearances and a goal) continues to go from strength to strength as he has become a key cog of the Panthers midfield.
Post-match, Head Coach Brad Gotch was full of praise for his backline, which held one of the league's most potent offences to a measly 62 points. In particular Gotch highlighted the performances of Scott Taylor and Luke Durdin, while also applauded the efforts of skipper Brad Crabb and Tom Fields, the latter who snuck forward for a goal in the first term.
The win also saw South Adelaide finish second on the ladder, which has proved vital to this weekend's clash, giving the Panthers a second chance in the finals and the opportunity to redeem their Qualifying Final loss to Sturt.
Watch all the Round 22 highlights here
As if taking on a strong Sturt side wasn't tough enough, the Panthers had to do so on the weekend a man down for much of the game.
Emerging utility Tyson Brown injured his hamstring in the first five minutes of the Qualifying Final and will take no further part in South's finals campaign. So early in the contest was Brown's injury, he had not yet even registered a possession.
Brown now joins a growing casualty ward in Noarlunga, which already consists of versatile tall Ben Haren (shoulder), vice-captain Tarak Redigolo (knee) and cult figure Jake Veide (knee). Meanwhile, Peter Rolfe (knee) has also yet to lace them up after injuring his ACL on the Queen's Birthday last season.
Brad Gotch talks potential replacements for Tyson Brown this weekend
Adelaide come into this week with several AFL-listed players potentially returning through the SANFL.
Paul Seedsman (corked buttock) and Luke Lowden (ankle) were both late withdrawals from the side that demolished Central District by 72 points in their Elimination Final, but have been listed as tests this week.
Similarly, Alex Keath (back) and Brodie Smith (concussion) are also listed as tests, however, the latter would need a clearance granted by the SANFL to be eligible to play.
Adelaide's only long term injury concern is Sam Shaw, who has been placed on the long term injury list after struggling with concussion symptoms throughout the season.
Crows veteran and former skipper Nathan Van Berlo retired from AFL action during the week, but has made clear his intention to play out the remainder of the SANFL season with the club's SANFL side.
For a full Panthers injury list - click here
For a league wide injury report - click here
Keep an eye on the website on Thursday evening this week for the full Semi Final team.
Semi Final Shootout: South Adelaide and the Crows are the two highest scoring teams in the SANFL this season.
South Adelaide entered the Finals full of confidence and form, having won their last five games, including victories over fellow September participants Central District, Sturt and Adelaide.
However, Sturt were able to stifle the Panthers trademark run and carry in their Qualifying Final clash, holding them to their second lowest score of the season and strangling them into a dour 27-point submission.
In contrast, the Crows were seemingly floating across the surface at Adelaide Oval as they comprehensively eliminated Central District to the tune of 72 points.
Boasting 18 AFL-listed players in their ranks, Adelaide were simply too strong for the Bulldogs, handling the blustery conditions better and showcasing their elite fitness and precise skills by foot and hand.
The Crows are one of the SANFL's elite ball-winning teams, averaging the second most disposals per game (354), which they quickly transition into scoreboard pressure - first in the competition in inside 50s per game (46.3), scoring shots per game (24) and second in total points scored in 2016 (1651) and points per game (91.7).
The presence of Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Harrison Wigg and Mitch Grigg was evident in the clinches against the Bulldogs, while former Central forwards Wayne Milera and Troy Menzel, as well as West Adelaide premiership player Jono Beech and former basketballer Hugh Greenwood were game winners up forward.
Danger Man: Adelaide's Cam Ellis-Yolmen (left) is amongst the 2016 Magarey Medal favourites. Image: Nick Hook Photography
South Adelaide take a more traditional path to fuel their league-leading offence.
They may not be in the top half of the league in possessions (325.1 - 6th) or inside 50s (44.7 - 6th) per game, but the Panthers midfield consists of several elite clearance winners that sees them ranked second out of the stoppages with 36.7 per game.
Meanwhile, a league-leading accuracy in front of goal, led by Ken Farmer Medallist Brett Eddy, means the Panthers can put points on the board without requiring as many repeat forward 50 entries as their opponents.
It should also not go unmentioned how strong South Adelaide's defence is.
Both the defensive work of their midfield, who hold their opponents to an average of 20.1 less touches than them per game, and their backline, led by skipper Brad Crabb, who are ranked third in the league for total points and average points per game against, is as key as the firepower the Panthers have up forward.
The Crows may boast a wealth of AFL-listed talent, but it is the Panthers that hold the bragging rights in 2016.
However, the Crows have been in rampaging form in recent weeks and their Elimination Final victory over Central District looked ominous.
On Sunday the equation is simple; win or go home.
It will be an enthralling contest between two sides that each play an exciting brand of footy.
Make sure you get out to Adelaide Oval this Sunday to cheer the Panthers on from 12.10pm!
Fight On Forever!
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