Under 18s Report: Grand Final - South Adelaide vs Eagles
Under-18s Match Report
South Adelaide vs Eagles
Grand Final - Adelaide Oval - 16/09/18
Goals: Tarca 4, Wood, Sparrow, Freitag, Whitbread, Dumesny, Sladojevic, Bogle, Colwell
Best: Sparrow, Bogle, Tarca, Douglass, Sampson, Lovering
Our Under-18s fell to a heartbreaking five-point defeat in the Grand Final clash with Woodville-West Torrens at Adelaide Oval yesterday.
In a pulsating contest that saw the momentum ebb and flow between the two sides, it was the Eagles that found themselves on the right side of the 12.12 (84) to 13.11 (89) ledger.
A fortnight ago they played out a tightly contested Semi Final that saw Woodville run out seven-point winners on their home deck, so it was clear both teams would be evenly matched heading into the rematch.
True to form, it was an intensely competitive game between the two best sides in the competition this season, with the lead never pushing beyond two goals either way.
The Eagles started the brighter of the two teams, kicking the first two goals of the game to the southern end.
South quickly answered through key forward Daniel Sladojevic and once Jake Tarca banged home his first two goals of the afternoon the Panthers found themselves in the lead.
However, a classy finish from the dangerous Jackson Mead in the dying stages of the term would see the scores locked at 20 heading into the first change.
Sam Whitbread and Tom Sparrow combined to put South back into the lead in the opening minute of the second term, before Mead again answered for the Eagles.
Big Ronan Wood had the reply as he crumbed a ground ball well to snap his first on his left boot moments later.
The classy Hayden Sampson and tough onballers Sparrow and Luke Bogle started to get their hands on the footy for South and once Zac Dumesny and Whitbread kicked their first goals for the day the Panthers would take a six point lead into the change rooms.
The third term was a much more dour and physical contest, with both sides struggling to fully capitalise on their forward entries.
Key defender Aaron Douglass stood tall for the Panthers in several pressure situations to cut off many Eagles attacks, while Kangaroos Island native Tate Lovering also began to impose himself on the game physically.
Tarca continued to be the most dynamic forward on the ground, as he kicked South's only two goals for quarter, bringing his tally to four for the afternoon, his second giving his team a 10-point buffer.
However, once again the Eagles would not roll over as they peppered the goals with seven minor scores before finally breaking through late in the term.
Only one point could separate the sides as they turned for home.
The Panthers again started well. Imposing Kangaroo Island ruckman Damon Freitag converted an early set shot to push the margin back to two kicks.
However, Woodville would kick the next three major scores to put their noses in front.
Bogle pulled one back with a classy snap in traffic, before Job Colwell bobbed up out the back to run into an open square and all of a sudden put South back into the lead.
Sadly, it would be the young Panthers last goal of the game.
The Eagles responded quickly as Domenic Pratico jumped on a loose ball to kick his third, before Mead capped off a classy transition play with his fourth and what would prove to be the sealer.
The South boys refused to give in and clawed their way to four more scoring shots in the last three minutes, but could only manage four behinds.
Once the ball was finally cleared to the members wing and the final siren sounded it would be the Eagles hanging on for a narrow five-point win.
Mead was awarded the Alan Stewart Medal as the best player on the ground, racking up 21 touches and seven tackles to go with his four goals.