Women's Match Report: Round 1 South vs Eagles
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South Adelaide vs Woodville-West Torrens
Round 1 - Flinders University Stadium - 14/02/20
Goals: Buchanan, Kirk, Nijhuis, Wilson
Best: Northcott, McKinnon, Meyer, Clifton, Wilson
South Adelaide holds off a greatly improved Eagles outfit by four points in a nail-biting opening round at Flinders University Stadium on Friday night.
"We were very pleased with the grit and resilience we showed last night. We had some really positive chains of possession and won most the crucial stats," South Head Coach Rick Watts said.
"Obviously there is a fair bit for us to work on, but we also need to give credit to Woodville-West Torrens who have improved dramatically and aren't far away from the elusive win," he said.
Trailing by a goal at halftime, the Panthers were able to regroup, and despite the Eagles having the wind in the final quarter, South were able to hold on to win 4.4 (28) to 3.6 (24).
While Lauren Buchanan (eight disposals) ended up sealing the win for the Panthers, thanks to a courageous bump in the dying seconds of the match, she also booted the first goal of the match during the first quarter.
Then two minutes after Buchanan's opening goal, Kelli Nijhuis (six disposals) on debut, kicked truly to get her first goal and hand the Panthers an early two goal lead.
However, from the first bounce it became obvious that this wasn't the same Eagles as last season, as they put massive pressure around the ball.
Both teams put together fast rebound plays through the middle, with Tahlia Meyer (nine disposals, two tackles) and Maddison Bennett (six disposals, four tackles) linking up well during the first quarter.
Meanwhile, the eventual Best on Ground for the Panthers, Lucy Northcott (three tackles), was showing her rugby skills down back.
But the Panthers failed to make the most of their chances with the wind during the first quarter, heading into the first break with a narrow 1.0 (6) to 2.2 (14) lead.
Coming out after the first break, both sides continued to apply massive pressure around the football, with both teams continuing to put together fast rebound attacks.
Despite the Panthers leading the clearance count at halftime, with 17 to 7, and both sides sitting equal with 12 inside 50s a piece, it was the Eagles who had most of the play during the second quarter.
Czenya Cavouras (20 disposals, 11 tackles) and Montana McKinnon (18 disposals, seven marks) continued to work hard through the middle, but the Eagles dangerous counter-attacks proved to be too much, as the Panthers headed into the main break facing a 2.2 (14) to 3.2 (20) deficit.
Shining on debut were two Panther pathway products, with Lauren Clifton (12 disposals, five inside 50s) and Callie Wilson (nine disposals, two marks) both playing well, and both making the best players list.
Coming out after the main break, the Panthers were not only trailing but the third quarter would also be the last chance they had of using the breeze.
And luckily they made the most of it, with Cavouras clearing it straight out of the centre, and despite the Eagles regaining possession, an interception by Sam Pratt (ten disposals, five tackles) not only stopped a potential Eagles counter attack but it also resulted in a goal by Jess Kirk (seven disposals, four tackles).
At the other end of the ground, the backline held firm with Northcott and Jaslynne Smith (15 disposals) both standing tall in what would be a scoreless quarter for the Eagles.
Another debutant for the Panthers also stepped up, with Layla Rogers (11 disposals, three tackles) getting into the thick of the action alongside fellow debutant Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg (five disposals) who also showed some promising signs.
However, the highlight of the quarter and arguably the match came after 12 minutes of play, with Kirk stepping up to take the mark of the match.
Not to be out done however, McKinnon would also go on to take a huge grab just two minutes later, in what would prove to be a huge quarter for the Panthers as they entered the final break with a 4.3 (27) to 3.2 (20) lead.
The Panthers would have the ball in their forward half for most of the opening minutes during the final term, but despite having four shots on goal, they could only muster a behind.
This left the door open for a late comeback by the Eagles, who would go on to score four points in just five minutes, the last of which saw South's lead drop to just four points.
With just two minutes left, the Eagles had repeated inside 50s that put massive pressure on South's backline, however the Panthers were able to clear the ball from a stoppage, which then allowed Buchannan to deny the Eagles one last chance to attack thanks to her courageous bump.
South Adelaide managed to get the ball to just outside their forward 50 before the siren sounded to hand South the 4.4 (28) to 3.6 (24) lead.
The Panthers Premiership defence continues next week, as South face off against Sturt at Flinders University Stadium on Friday, February 21, from 6:30 pm.
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